What Is Immunocompromised or Immunosuppressed?
Immunocompromised and immunosuppressed both refer to deficiencies in the immune system’s functioning. When one’s immune system does not work properly, the body’s ability to fight off infections or cancer is reduced.
What Causes Immunosuppression?
Secondary immune deficiency is the most common cause of immunosuppression. Secondary causes of immunosuppression refer to external factors that weaken a person’s immune system, such as:
- Immunomodulatory drugs
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Removal of the spleen (splenectomy)
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Extreme environmental conditions
- Ultraviolet (UV) light
- Low oxygen
- Space flight
- Metabolic diseases
- Chronic uremia
- Chronic infections
- Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
- Age extremes
- Premature babies
- Elderly adults
- Sickle cell anemia
- Certain cancers
- Multiple myeloma
- Chronic lymphoid leukemia
Primary immune deficiencies are caused by genetic disorders, such as:
- Down’s syndrome (trisomy 21)
- Severe combined immune deficiency (SCID)
- Common variable immune deficiency (CVID)
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia
What Is the Treatment for Immune Deficiency?
Treatment for a person who is immunocompromised/immunosuppressed depends on the condition that is causing the weakened immune system.
If an infection is causing an immunodeficiency, it may be treated with:
Treatments for immunocompromised/immunosuppressed patients that are aimed at boosting the immune system include:
- Immune globulin replacement therapy
- Specialized immune globulins
Other treatments for immunocompromised/immunosuppressed patients include:
- Hematopoietic cell transplant
- Gene therapy
- Enzyme replacement therapy
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