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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) diagnosed?

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    Dr Alexander Lozynsky

    Allergy Specialist & Immunologist

    Consultant allergist and immunologist, with particular interest in allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, allergic respiratory disorders, food allergies and sensitivity and allergic skin conditions, including atopic … View Profile

    Clinical symptoms with unusually frequent infections, especially bacterial infections, requiring repeat course of antibiotics is the first clue to diagnosing common variable immunodeficiency(CVID). Assessment by an immunologist is indicated to confirm the diagnosis with specific laboratory and other investigations, such as CT scans of the sinuses and chest.

    The most common findings are reduced levels of antibodies, primarily immunoglobulins A and G, resulting in hypogammaglobulinemia. There can be impaired immune responses to vaccination with certain antigens, particularly pneumococci, diphtheria and tetanus. Analysis of B and T lymphocytes can provide further information and these results can be variable, reflecting the heterogeneous nature of CVID. 

    Some people with CVID may produce autoantibodies and develop autoimmune disorders, such as arthritis and destruction of blood cells, especially red blood cells (anaemia) and platelets (thrombocytopaenia), as well as thyroid disorders (thyroiditis). There is also an increased risk of lymphoma.           

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