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Diseases Relating to Immunodeficiency

Many chronic diseases are caused by deficient immune system, When it is not up to par and is not working properly, other organs are not properly cared for and they become diseased. Basically, immunodeficiency is of two types, primary and acquired. Primary diseases are the result of inadequate or lacking immune systems due to inherited conditions and acquired are those that develop because of vulnerable life styles that allow one to come in contact with immune system antagonists.

One of these is chemotherapy, a potent chemical that kills cancer cells. As with most drugs, there are side effects and immunodeficiency goes hand in hand with this type of treatment. It is, in most cases, only temporary. After recovery, with careful monitoring, and good nutrition and body building techniques, the immune system gradually resumes its former capacity, or near that. And even it never recovers completyly, it will work well enough to at least attempt to work at protecting the body against further invasions.

Primary immunodeficiency diseases

1. Louis-Bar Syndrome is a group of rare hereditary diseases that share the same characteristics such as nerve involvement and lack of muscle control. One in this group, A-T Ataxia-Telangiectasia is rare and it is estimated there are only about 500 in the US afflicted with this disease. Its name is descriptive of its behavior, ataxia meaning not well balanced and telangiectasia refers to the minute little red markings on the face. Another, Friedreich’s ataxia is the one most common of the group. According to my online sources, there are about 3,000 to 5,000 children afflicted in the US. Both parents have the mutated gene.

2. Chediak-Higashi Syndrome is likewise a disease with a malfunctioning immune system due to heredity. In these children the gene responsible for skin coloring is missing or is lacking in necessary components. They are albinos, have a light silvery look to hair and their eyes are light and have rapid eye movements – nystagmus. These children are prone to lung infections, skin infections and problems with mucus linings. Often they have poor eyesight, are mentally retarded to some degree, have weak muscles, nerve pains, numbed areas and are nervous and fidgety.

3. DiGeorge Syndrome is another heredity condition that results from a lack of some components from chromosome 22 that is necessary for a healthy immune system. Specifically, there are missing parts to the DGS gene that is responsible for a fully developed thymus gland and other necessities for development of a healthy immune system. There a host of other diseases in this category that cause diseases because of some lack or interference with the development of the body’s protection against disease. Most of these diseases are grouped under the heading SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disease) since more than one necessary gene or protein is missing.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is better known as AIDS. It is by more the one immune system disease that is most troubling to the world today. It was first recognized in 1981 but thinking back, surely it was with us long before that. Effective treatment was years in the making and still there are no actual cure, but there are now medicines that buy life for the afflicted ones.

It is spread through sexual contact, through saliva, through blood and from an infected mother to child during birth. Promiscuous sexual practices and sharing dirty syringes among drug addicts as well as freak accidents such as unintentional dirty needle jabs by hospital workers are possible modes of entry of this devastating disease.

Autoimmune diseases

These are diseases such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis and many others where the immune system manufactures antibodies against its own body and slowly destroys vital tissue and interferes with organ functions. In this group are type 1 diabetes, a disease of the pancreas; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease of the thyroid gland; hepatitis affecting the liver and anemia originating in the stomach and Addison’s disease with the adrenals glands as its target.

As you can see, the immune system, designed to be the watchdog over the healthy body has a big job to do and all too often is not up to the challenge. We who are older have to look no further than our creaky joints, our sometimes sore and aching muscles and our own arthritic pains. As we age some of this we can expect and oldsters take it in their stride, but many are suffering terribly from the debilitating effects of immunodeficiency. No place in the body is immune since every nook and cranny is subject to be under the care of the immune system at some time. From the head – scalp itch – to the big toe – gout- it has your number.