What is Hypogammaglobulinemia?

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Q: What is hypogammaglobulinemiaA: Hypogammaglobulinemia is a problem with the immune system that prevents it from making enough antibodies called immunoglobulins. The body of people suffering from it will be unable to produce enough antibodies that help protect them from foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. As a consequence, patients will get infected much more easily. Symptoms: Symptoms depend on the infections. Infections may include:
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infections
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin infections
These infections will bring about the following symptoms:
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Congestion
  • Sinus pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Joint pain
In addition, babies with hypogammaglobulinemia often get respiratory tract infections, food allergies, and eczema. Causes: Several gene mutations that affect the BTK gene have association with hypogammaglobulinemia. B cells rely on this gene to grow and mature. Without healthy BTK gene, B cells cannot provide enough antibodies. This will cause hypogammaglobulinemia. Besides gene mutations, some other factors called primary immune deficiencies that can be passed down through the families and start at birth will also lead to hypogammaglobulinemia. They involve:
  • Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T)
  • Autosomal recessive agammaglobulinemia (ARA)
  • Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)
  • Hyper-IgM syndromes
  • IgG subclass deficiency
  • Isolated non-IgG immunoglobulin deficiencies
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
  • Specific antibody deficiency (SAD)
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
  • X-linked agammaglobulinemia
Similarly, acquired immune deficiencies enable hypogammaglobulinemia to develop. They include:
  • Blood cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), lymphoma, or myeloma
  • HIV
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Poor nutrition
  • Protein-losing enteropathy
  • Organ transplant
  • Radiation
What’s more, certain medication may cause hypogammaglobulinemia as well, including:
  • Medicines that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Antiseizure medications
Complications: The cause of hypogammaglobulinemia and the kind of infection decide what complications will occur. They may include:
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Damage to the heart, lungs, nervous system, or digestive tract
  • Increased risk for cancer
  • Repeated infections
  • Slowed growth in children
Treatment: Patients who get severe or frequent bacterial infection generally need to take antibiotics for several month at a time. For people whose condition is serious, an immune globulin replacement therapy will be necessary. Some of them just need a single injection, while others will keep receiving treatment for a year or more. If you have any problems, please consult your doctor. Keywords: hypogammaglobulinemia; symptoms; causes; complications; treatment
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