Hypogammaglobulinaemia: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help
Hypogammaglobulinaemia is a rare disorder affecting the immune or the defence system of the body. Normally, the immune system of the body produces antibodies with the help of gamma globulins (type of immunoglobulin) which help in fighting bacterial and viral infections. But in hypogammaglobulinaemia, the production of antibodies is hampered resulting in increased susceptibility to microbial infections.
Hypogammaglobulinaemia: Incidence, age and sex
Hypogammaglobulinaemia is a seldom occurrence in the general population. It may be seen in children since birth, if congenital, and also in adults, if acquired.
Signs and symptoms of hypogammaglobulinaemia: Diagnosis
The clinical features of hypogammaglobulinaemia are vague and non-specific and usually result from reduced amount of antibodies in blood. Affected individuals may complain of frequent colds and upper respiratory tract infections manifested by fever, headache, running nose, sore throat, dysphagia and cough. Frequent gastrointestinal infections may lead to persistent diarrhoea. Other features include loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue. Congenital hypogammaglobulinaemia is present since birth and the affected child may show failure to thrive with enhanced occurrence of infections. Not only this, the child is usually underweight for his/her age.
Detailed history and comprehensive physical examination is needed by a specialist. Certain blood tests may be done to exclude other organic causes which may present with similar symptoms. Genetic testing may be done to ascertain the disorder of inherited hypogammaglobulinaemia.
Causes and prevention of hypogammaglobulinaemia
Hypogammaglobulinaemia, which is a disorder of the body’s immune system, may be congenital or acquired. The most common cause is primary immunodeficiency which results from a genetic mutation. Other causes include common variable immunodeficiency or X- linked recessive agammaglobulinaemia. These disorders lead to reduced synthesis of antibodies which in turn, makes an individual highly prone to contracting microbial infections.
Since the body’s defence system weakens, increased infections may be caused. These infections may be mild or sometimes serious. Persistent and serious infections may lead to grave health concerns.
Hypogammaglobulinaemia is an incurable disorder. However, it can be managed by giving regular doses of immunoglobulin in injectible form. These immunoglobulins given every 3 to 4 weeks, may help in increasing the production of antibodies and subsequently strengthening the body’s defence system. This disorder requires life-long treatment with injectible immunoglobulins. It is also essential to take special precautions against contagious infections.