Your immune system is constantly fighting germs that could cause infections. While everyone’s immune system loses a battle occasionally, suffering from lots of infections, or even just a few very severe infections, can be a sign of an immune system problem.
There are hundreds of types of immune deficiencies. Children might show signs of certain immune disorders from a young age, but some immune system problems don’t arise until adulthood.
The first line of defense in your immune system is your skin and mucous membranes (such as in the nose and mouth). Damage to your skin and mucous membranes, such as with eczema or allergies, can increase your risk of infections.
Any of the following could be a sign of an immune system disorder:
- Needing multiple courses of antibiotics per year
- Infections which do not get better with typical treatment
- Many sinus infections
- Pneumonia more than once
- Lots of ear infections after age 4
- Problems gaining weight in childhood
- Chronic diarrhea
- Severe eczema
- Skin infections
An allergist/immunologist is trained to diagnose and treat problems with your immune system. Some types of immunodeficiency can be treated with infusions of antibodies called immunoglobulins. Other types of immune deficiencies may need to be treated with longer courses of antibiotics, or preventative antibiotics.