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Health Library : Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

 

Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID)

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, during childhood or 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. The disorder is characterized by a decrease in the number of immunoglobulins (antibodies) in the affected person. Immunoglobulins are produced by the body and are necessary in fighting infections. In some cases, more than one individual in a family may be affected. 

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 eyes, skin, 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, and testing for low serum IgG concentrations is primary to diagnose this condition.

What is the treatment for CVID?

Specific treatment for CVID will be determined by your child's doctor 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 boost the child's immune system and replace the immunoglobulins that are needed.
  • Medication. Prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection as prescribed by your child's doctor.
  • Routine blood tests
  • Postural drainage of the lungs. This is done to help with lung infections and removal of secretions.

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