Types of immune system diseases
Diseases or disorders of the immune system
A strong immune system can guarantee immunity against many diseases. However, sometimes there are changes in the immune system. Many of these disorders are genetic.
They are generally caused by diseases or by the ingestion of drugs or medications. As we age the immune system also weakens. In the same way, diet, stress, sleep disorders, or lack of exercise are factors that determine the health of our defenses.
In general, we can distinguish 4 groups of disorders affecting the immune system, immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, allergic disorders and cancers.
Immunodeficiency is a type of disorder characterized by the malfunction of the immune system. The immunodeficiency can be primary or acquired.
* Primary immunodeficiency disorders
People with primary immunodeficiency disorders have genetic immune deficiency.
These can include, for example:
• Primary hypogammaglobulinemia: Characterized by an inability to maintain an adequate level of antibodies in the body. This deficiency is responsible for individuals who have it to be more likely to suffer from respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
• Agammaglobulinemia: Genetic inability to produce B lymphocytes. People with this disorder are prone to infections caused by staphylococci, pneumococci, and viruses.
• Selective IgA Deficiency: Characterized by lacking or having low levels of the protein immunoglobulin A. It is the most common immune disorder but it is usually less severe, as well. Affected individuals usually can be attacked by respiratory diseases (bronchitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, asthma, etc.), skin diseases (nail fungus), chronic diarrhea, etc.
* Acquired or secondary immunodeficiency disorders
Occurring as a result of exposing the body to some disease, medical treatments, medications, or simply as a consequence of aging. For example:
- AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome): Produced by the AIDS virus (HIV). This virus causes the destruction of T helper cells, leaving the body defenseless against many diseases of infectious nature.
- Acquired Immune Deficiency because of medication: Certain medications can weaken or destroy the immune system, such as those used in cancer chemotherapy or immunosuppressants used in transplantation to prevent organ rejection to transplanted organs.
- Acquired immunodeficiency because of splenectomy: Splenectomy is a surgical process involving the removal of the spleen. The spleen is extremely important to get immunity. Therefore, people who do not possess this organ are more likely to have bacterial infections.
- Acquired immune deficiency because of aging: As we age, the organs of the immune system are weakened and less able to produce lymphocytes
These type of disorders are characterized by the immune system attacking the body’s own organs or tissues. It is an erroneous response from the immune system that thinks that the parts of the human body are foreign elements that have invaded it.
The mucous membranes in contact with external agents generate antibodies called immunoglobulins. Sometimes, when in contact for too long with a particular agent or allergen, the membranes become hypersensitive and produce an exaggerated reaction of a substance called histamine
This substance irritates the mucous producing the phenomenon of allergy characterized by itching, tearing, pain and so on. Each time the body comes in contact with the allergen, it produces a bad reaction that can only be resolved by avoiding the release of histamine, reason why people with allergies are taking medicines called antihistamines.
Within this type of allergic reactions, we have diseases such as asthma, hay fever, allergies to certain animals, allergies to certain plants, allergies, contact with certain metals, etc.
Atopic dermatitis or eczema can also have an allergic origin.
Cancers of the immune system
It is believed that the body is able to recognize cells that have abnormal growth and eliminate them. However, under certain circumstances that weaken the immune system, such as continued stress, or diseases that impair the immune system, such as AIDS, the body is unable to kill tumor cells.
Cancers of the immune system include lymphoma and leukemia.
More information on immune system.
20 July, 2020