Do you feel that your kid is not able to cope with the changing seasons? Does he/she have recurrent symptoms of infections? Yes, it can be quite vexing and painful to see your kid suffer from some infection or the other recurrently. Having cough, sneezing, and sore throat, having fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and dehydration makes the child weak and makes you worried!
Constant visits to the doctor and many sleepless nights have taken their toll, but they have your kid drugged and has only provided symptomatic relief. The question that haunts you is “why is my kid always sick?”
Let’s first see what is normal and then we’ll deal what’s to be done for the abnormal!
What is normal?
During infancy and during the preschool days, a normal child gets cold for five to six times each year. Later, during the school years, kids get cold for about four to five times each year. This is not including diarrhea and stomach flu. With more than 200 cold viruses, children, who had not had previous exposure to these pathogens are quite susceptible to each of them. Added to these, the heavy pollution in urban India contributes to respiratory infections. Though they might be miserable they give the child permanent immunity to certain conditions.
As for diarrhea, it’s the third reason for childhood mortality in India. Infections from various viruses, parasites, and bacteria cause childhood diarrhea. Symptoms show up as vomiting, stomachache, and fever. These are treated with ORS and antibiotics.
Most diseases are transmitted by physical contact, are water or airborne.
But, when a child is constantly getting sick, there is a bigger doubt that looms like a dark cloud on parents. “Is there something wrong with the immune system of my child?” For normal children mostly likely not!
Recurrent colds and ear infections are not to be equated with immune deficiency. Healthy children gain immunity with regular playtime, sufficient sleep, and good nutrition. Having a diet full of immunity boosters would certainly help!
But, when pediatricians encounter children with recurrent infections they would first want to eliminate an underlying immunological disorder. For those with immunological deficiencies like primary immunodeficiency disease, there is need for early detection and prompt management to avoid complications and mortality.
In fact, children with recurrent infections present a diagnostic challenge. Maintaining a high index of suspicion for the diagnosis of immunodeficiency is critical. This is where one needs expert pediatricians. Differentiating between common risk factors and immune dysfunction is based on a detailed physical examination, patient history, and lab studies.
Identifying an underlying immune disorder early would help manage the condition and would aid in improving the quality of life. Primary Immunodeficiency manifests in a patterned persistent infections.
Primary immunodeficiency is an inherited disorder of the immune system. Affected individuals have an increased rate and severity of an infection. This occurs in as many as 1 in 2,000 kids. They are caused due to abnormalities like:
- Humoral, or B-cell system
- Cellular, or T-cell system.
- Complement system.
- Phagocytic system.
Lab Evaluation for Primary immunodeficiency:
- Blood test differential for white blood cells and platelet count.
- Peripheral blood smear.
- Liver function test.
- Renal function test.
- Urine test.
- Chest X-ray.
Primary immunodeficiency involves many disorders and diseases. It needs expertise in clinical and laboratory evaluation. With proper treatment and management many patients live a healthy life. Therapies like Immunoglobulin therapy and other antibody deficiency therapies have worked wonders for many patients. Advanced therapies like stem cell and gene therapy have also proved to be successful.
If your child has recurrent infections, you should never neglect it. Symptomatic treatment may give relief temporarily, but one has to be in touch with a hospital that has facilities of clinical immunology since early diagnosis can prevent end organ damage, and improve the long-term outlook.
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