See an Immunodeficiency Specialist in New Orleans
Dr. Reena Mehta is a board-certified immunologist in New Orleans that can help you and your children thrive over immunodeficiency disorders. Learn about immunodeficiency disorders, symptoms, testing, diagnosis, and treatment options including immunoglobulin replacement therapy below, & schedule an appointment.
“I was a patient of Dr. Mehta for a number of years and have always found her to not only be a smart and superb physician, but a most caring and attentive person. Dr. Mehta is detail-oriented, always explains everything and is very supportive. She is the epitome of what a doctor should be and more. I highly recommend her as a specialist in immunology!“
– Ellen W, December 2018
The immune system is made up of white blood cells, antibodies, and other specialized cells and proteins that work together to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Immunodeficiency disorders compromise your immune system, disrupting your body’s ability to fight off disease.
There are two types of immunodeficiency disorders:
- Primary Immunodeficiency
- Acquired Immunodeficiency
Immunodeficiency is usually noticed by a pattern of repeated infections that are unusually hard to cure. Infections may attack the skin, respiratory system, ears, brain, spinal cord, urinary tract, or gastrointestinal tract.
Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders
Primary immunodeficiency is hereditary or genetic, meaning that you are born with it. Primary immunodeficiency can target specific and/or multiple organs, glands, cells, and tissues, leading to a wide variety of different defects, such as heart defects, altered facial features, stunted growth, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
There are over 300 different primary immunodeficiency disorders. Specific primary immunodeficiency disorders include:
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA)
- Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)
- Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also known as alymphocytosis
Acquired Immunodeficiency Disorders
Acquired immunodeficiency, also called secondary immunodeficiency, can occur when something weakens your immune system. Severe burns, malnutrition, HIV, and certain medications like chemotherapy or systemic steroids can cause acquired immunodeficiency. Acquired immunodeficiency disorders include:
Recurrent infections are the most telling symptom of an immunodeficiency disorder. Other symptoms include:
- Poor growth or loss of weight
- Recurrent pneumonia, ear infections or sinusitis
- Multiple courses of antibiotics or IV antibiotics necessary to clear infections
- Recurrent deep abscesses of the organs or skin
- A family history of primary immunodeficiency
- Swollen lymph glands or an enlarged spleen
- Autoimmune disease
Serious primary immunodeficiency disorders typically become apparent in infancy, however, antibody deficiencies may present in older children or adults.
Diagnosing an immunodeficiency disorder starts with seeing the right specialist. An immunologist has specialized training and expertise to diagnose and coordinate a management plan for immunodeficiency disorders.
If your immunologist suspects an immunodeficiency disorder, blood tests are used to determine your white blood cell, T cell, and immunoglobulin counts. Abnormal numbers of certain cells can indicate an immune system defect.
If you have a child with a primary immunodeficiency disorder, you may want to be tested for certain immunodeficiency disorders during future pregnancies. Prenatal testing is done by taking samples of amniotic fluid, blood or cells from tissue that will become the placenta; or testing for a genetic defect in DNA.
Treatment for immunodeficiency disorders is targeted toward the specific immune defects, so the exact course of management varies from person to person. Treatments can include:
- Bone marrow, stem cell, or thymus transplantation
- Immunoglobulin (antibody) replacement
- Gene therapy
- Antibiotics to manage and prevent infections
- Strategies to manage autoimmune disease
Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy
Immunoglobulin (replacement therapy (IgG) is one of the most common therapies prescribed for primary immunodeficiency diseases. Though it does not cure immunodeficiency, it does provide the body with more immunoglobulins (antibodies) to fight off infections. Routine treatment with immunoglobulin replacement therapy can treat existing infections, prevent new infections from occurring, and prevent long-term organ damage from chronic infections. There are two different types of immunoglobulin replacement therapy: intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIg).
Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG)
Intravenous immunoglobulin is infused directly into the vein, and therefore must be done in a clinic or at home under the supervision of nursing staff. Treatment sessions take 2 to 4 hours and are administered about once a month. The exact dose and frequency of treatment can vary depending on your weight and your immunoglobulin levels.
Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin (SCIg)
See an Immunodeficiency Specialist in New Orleans
If you suspect that you or your children are dealing with an immunodeficiency disorder, it is strongly recommended that you see an immunologist. Dr. Mehta has a reputation for developing strong relationships with her patients and being exceptionally attentive to their needs and concerns.
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Saturday appointments available upon request.
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