Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody blood protein crucial to your immune system. Having an IgA deficiency means you either have no IgA in your blood or very low levels. Not having enough IgA in your body makes fighting off a wide range of sicknesses challenging.
A deficiency in IgA can contribute to asthma and allergies since IgA is found primarily in your respiratory and digestive tracts, breastmilk, saliva, and tears. A deficiency in IgA has also been linked to autoimmune health problems.
Cause of IgA Deficiency
IgA can be passed down in families, making it a genetic issue. It can also be caused by the medications you are taking. Sometimes, however, there is no apparent cause.
Symptoms of IgA Deficiency
Generally, IgA isn’t a condition that brings on obvious symptoms. It is usually identified only when you take a blood test.
However, if you have IgA deficiency, you probably get more infections than the average person. For example, you probably experience more digestive, sinus, and lung infections than most people. You may also have allergies, and it is common to develop digestive and autoimmune problems if you have IgA deficiency.
Diagnosing IgA Deficiency
If you know that IgA deficiency runs in your family, you should get tested for it. A simple blood test can tell you if you have low or no IgA in your blood.
If you frequently get infections or have asthma and allergies, you may want to ask to be tested for IgA deficiencies.
Preventing IgA Deficiency
IgA deficiency is not something that you can prevent. However, you can work to reduce the chance of getting sick and ill due to the condition.
Many of these are common sense measures, such as washing your hands often to limit the spread of germs and sickness. Staying away from big crowds, especially during cold and flu season, can also be helpful.
You should also stay updated with the vaccines that can help prevent you from getting sick.
Treating IgA Deficiency
IgA is a chronic condition; there isn’t a cure for it. There are no immunotherapies you can use to treat it.
The best way to treat IgA is by taking steps to decrease your risk of contracting illness and infections. If you experience chronic infections, you may need to take antibiotics every day. When you get sick, you will need to take antibiotics.
Common IgA Deficiency Complications
Many complications can arise when you have an IgA deficiency:
Allergic reactions to blood transfusions and blood products
With IgA deficiency, there is no treatment for it. However, knowing you have IgA deficiency can allow you to take steps to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. Antibiotics can be used to treat any illnesses you contract, and if you are constantly getting sick, you may be advised to get on daily antibiotic treatment.
Managing Immunoglobulin A Deficiency in Portland, Oregon
At West Hills Allergy & Asthma Associates, Dr. Anderson-Cowell has more than two decades of experience diagnosing and treating patients with immunology disorders. She can help you figure out if you have IgA deficiency and help you deal with the consequences of this diagnosis.
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.
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