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Primary Immunodeficiencies

Background:
The immune system “protects” us from infections.  An immunodeficiency is a defect in your immune system.  This increases ones risk of developing recurrent and severe infections.  The symptoms of an immunodeficiency vary depending on the part of your immune system that is affected.

Diagnosis:
The diagnosis of an immunodeficiency is made by utilizing the following pieces of information:

  1. Personal history of frequent infections
  2. Family History
  3. Physical Exam
  4. Types of infections an individual develops (i.e Chronic Sinusitis, Recurrent Pneumonia, Skin infections, Meningitis, etc…)
  5. Laboratory tests.

Treatment:
The treatment of an immunodeficiency will depend on the type of immune defect an individual is diagnosed with.

Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID):
Common Variable Immunodeficiency is a common type of immunodeficiency that is characterized by a decreased quantity of antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins) and/or poorly functioning antibodies. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system that helps to fight off infections. Patients with a defect in their antibodies present with certain types of infections, most notably sinus infections, ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. CVID can present in both children and adults.  Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) is diagnosed based on a history of frequent infections and laboratory testing showing a decreased number and/or function of antibodies. There is currently no cure for CVID, but we can “normalize” an individual’s immune system with passive immunity via antibody transfusions (known as gammaglobulin).   Gammaglobulin can be administered either intravenously once monthly, subcutaneously once weekly, or subcutaneously once monthly.

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