Recurrent Infections – Are They Due to Allergies?

Recurrent infections occur in many individuals in the U.S., as well as around the world.  In the U.S., malnutrition is not a common cause as it is in many undeveloped third-world countries.  Parasitic infections are also not very common in the U.S. unless an individual travels to a developing country, consumes uncooked meat/fish, drinks tainted water, or has an immune deficiency.  The most common types of infections found in the U.S. are numerous and include sinus infections, pneumonias, bronchial infections (i.e., bronchitis), skin infections (e.g., cellulitis, boils, abscesses), ear infections, throat infections, eye infections, gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections.  Nosocomial infections are a subset of infections specific to those infections that are acquired in a hospital setting.

The causative agents of most infections include bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and prions.  These microbes or infectious agents can be transmitted in many ways such as person to person, mother to child, animal to person, and by food contamination.  Infections can be spread by direct contact, indirect contact, bug bites, and food contamination.

What about allergies?  Can they cause infections?  The answer is that having allergies predisposes an individual to the development of some types of infections.  The typical types of infections found more in allergic individuals may include sinus infections, ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.  As a caveat to this, people with immune problems (i.e., immunodeficiencies) are more likely to develop infections.  In fact, most immunodeficiencies are found because the individual complains of recurrent infections.  People with immunodeficiencies can be stricken with infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and/or parasites.  These immune defects may involve B cells, T cells, NK cells (i.e., natural killer cells), phagocytic cells, and/or complement deficiencies.  The cells mentioned above are types of white blood cells in one’s body. Immunodeficiencies can be hereditary (i.e., genetic) or acquired (i.e., developed as a result of diseases, cancers, infections, malnutrition, or side effects of medications)

Some examples of hereditary immunodeficiencies include:

  1. B cell deficiencies – selective IgA deficiency, common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), X-linked agammaglobulinemia (i.e., Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia
  2. T cell deficiencies – DiGeorge syndrome, ataxia telangiectasia, Bloom’s syndrome, hyper IgE syndrome (Job’s syndrome), cartilage-hair hypoplasia, Wiskott Aldrich syndrome, X-linked lymphoproliferative syndromes, immunodeficiency-centromeric instability-facial anomalies syndrome (ICF syndrome), chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, candidiasis familial chronic mucocutaneous, dyskeratosis congenita, immunodysregulation, polyendocrinopathy and enteropathy X-linked (IPEX syndrome), hepatic venoocclusive disease with immunodeficiency, Schimke immunoosseous dysplasia
  3. NK cell deficiencies – classical NK cell deficiency (CNKD), functional NK cell deficiency (FNKD)
  4. Combined immunodeficiencies – severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), X-linked hyper-IgM syndrome
  5. Phagocytic disorders – Chediak-Higashi syndrome, leukocyte adhesion deficiency, chronic granulomatous disease
  6. Complement system deficiencies – C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, C8, or C9 deficiency, properdin deficiency, mannose-binding lectin deficiency, factor B deficiency, factor D deficiency

Some examples of acquired immunodeficiencies include acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), cancers of the immune system (e.g., leukemia, multiple myeloma), and immune complex diseases (e.g., viral hepatitis).

In summary, many individuals suffer from recurrent infections and many can be attributed to allergy and/or immunology problems.  Allergic rhinitisasthma, and immune disorders predispose individuals to the increase risk of various types of infections.  The allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy have been diagnosing and treating both adults and children with all types of infections for many decades in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  We are board certified in both adult and pediatric allergy and immunology.  If you or someone you know suffers from recurrent infections (e.g., sinus, ears, lungs, skin), please call us to make an appointment at one of our 3 convenient offices.  We have offices in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  All of the offices have on-site parking.  The Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible and the McLean, VA office has a free shuttle that runs between our office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  You may also click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours by the next business day.  Black & Kletz Allergy has been a fixture in the greater Washington, DC and Northern Virginia community for over 50 years for our exceptional services for the diagnosis and treatment of allergic, asthmatic, and immunological conditions.