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Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID)

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is a genetic condition that weakens the immune system and results in frequent infections. It is considered a primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD), which causes low levels of antibodies in the body resulting in frequent infections.

Who CVID Impacts

CVID impacts both males and females. The condition isn’t usually diagnosed adequately until adulthood but can emerge in children and teenagers.

Cause of CVID

CVID is caused by a genetic mutation in the immune system genes. This defect results in your body producing a low level of immunoglobulins, such as immunoglobulin G (IgG). Low IgG levels make it hard for your body to fight infections. 

Around 10% of CVID cases are hereditary; the rest are random genetic mutations or changes. This genetic change can happen suddenly and without any apparent reason.

Symptoms of CVID

With CVID, the symptoms and severity can vary significantly from one individual to the next. CVID symptoms include:

  • Ear infections
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Recurring lung infections
  • Recurring pneumonia
  • Chronic cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Diarrhea that results in weight loss

Diagnosing CVID

CVID is usually suspected if you have signs of an immune disorder or if you have rare reactions to vaccines. 

To diagnose CVID, we first review your family history to determine genetic links. Then, a blood test will be taken to see if you have low levels of IgG. 

Specialized laboratory tests may be given to determine the exact cause and type of immune defect behind your CVID, such as: 

  • B cell 
  • Helper T cell
  • Suppressor T cell
  • B cell defects
  • T cell defects

You may also be given x-rays, an examination of the small intestine, or a biopsy of lymph nodes to identify abnormalities. Some specialized imaging testing may also be necessary. 

Treatment for CVID

The most common treatment for CVID is immunoglobulin replacement therapy. This therapy replaces the missing immunoglobulin with antibodies from healthy donors. 

You will receive treatment either intravenously or through an injection. Unfortunately, this is not a condition that can be cured, and treatment will need to continue throughout your life. 

It is common to take antibiotics to treat infections that arise from CVID. You may also be prescribed medications to manage some of the complications and side effects of CVID. 

Complications with CVID

Having CVID puts you at risk of developing other conditions and complications. A few conditions you have an increased risk of developing include:

  • Cancer
  • Granulomas
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Autoimmune disorders:
    • Immune thrombocytopenia: low level of platelets in the blood
    • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: immune system destroys red blood cells

There is no cure for CVID. However, it can be treated and managed, allowing you to live a long and healthy life. 

Treatment for Common Variable Immunodeficiency in Portland

At West Hills Allergy & Asthma Associates, Dr. Anderson-Cowell has more than two decades of experience diagnosing and treating patients with immunology disorders, such as common variable immunology disorder. 

CVID is a life-long condition that we can help you manage.

If you’re looking for expert diagnostic experience and effective treatment history, Dr. Anderson-Cowell can help. For a consultation, please call (503) 297-4779 or request an appointment online.

9701 SW Barnes Road
Suite 130
Portland, Oregon 97225


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