Common variable immunodeficiency

What is common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)?

CVID is an immunodeficiency disorder characterized by a low level of antibodies, making it difficult for the child's body to fight diseases. The child then becomes sick with recurrent infections. The disease may become evident during infancy, childhood, puberty, or even later into adulthood. The symptoms of the disease are very different for each child affected, which is why it is called a "variable" group of disorders.

What causes CVID?

The cause of CVID is unknown. In some cases, more than one individual in a family may be affected, while in other cases this is not the case. There is a decrease in the number of immunoglobulins (antibodies) in the affected person. Immunoglobulins are produced by the body and are necessary in fighting infections.

What are the symptoms of CVID?

The following are the most common symptoms of CVID. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • recurrent infections that can affect the ears, sinuses, and lungs (the more these infections occur, the greater the risk of scarring and permanent damage to the lungs and breathing tubes)
  • inflammation in the joints of the knees, ankles, elbows, or wrists
  • stomach and bowel disorders
  • increased risk of developing some cancers

How is CVID diagnosed?

A diagnosis of CVID is usually made based on a complete medical history and physical examination. In addition, multiple blood tests may be ordered to help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for CVID

Specific treatment for CVID will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment may include

  • immunoglobulin therapy - intravenous (IV) infusions of immunoglobulin (antibodies) may be given to help increase the child's immune system and replace the immunoglobulins that are needed.
  • medication, as prescribed by your child's physician
  • postural drainage of the lungs (to help with lung infections and removal of secretions)
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