Let's talk about immunology and immunodeficiency
Just what is immunology? Immunology is a branch of medicine where practitioners, called immunologists, study the immune system, the body’s natural defense against sickness and infection.
How do you know if you are immuno-deficient? Generally, everyone can get infections but people who are immuno-deficient have more frequent infections that can be severe and have more complications. In addition, the infections usually do not go away without being treated with antibiotics and most often reoccur after antibiotic treatment. These patients may need several courses of antibiotics during the course of the year. The infections can develop in certain areas of the body: bones, joints, liver, heart and brain. Remember that the frequency of infections is very important.
When to See an Immunologist
Your Allergist and/or Immunologist can determine if you are immunodeficient. Take for instance: a preschooler can get several ear infections, which can be normal for that age group. But for someone who is older it is abnormal.
- If your child requires more than 4 courses of antibiotics per year or in adults more than twice a year
- More than 4 ear infections per year
- More than 3 bacterial sinusitis infections or chronic sinusitis
- Antibiotics prevention treatment to reduce the number of infections
- Any unusual infections that do not occur with people of your age group
- Malaise and fatigue that never really go away
Immunologists Can Help
If you have experienced any of the above please contact Dr. Tolston's office for or your family physician, who can refer you to an allergist and/or immunologist. Immunologists can give you more information on recurrent infections, immunodeficiency and treatments like IVIG--intravenous immunoglobulins. Basically, it replaces the antibodies that your body cannot make. Remember that early treatment can prevent serious complications, reduce the number of infections and improve your immune system. If you feel as though you suffer from frequent, long-lasting infections, seek out an immunologist who can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your individual needs and treatment options.