To help decide whether recurrent infections could be due to primary immunodeficiency, your doctor will ask about your history of illnesses and whether any close relatives have an inherited immune system disorder.
Your doctor also will perform a physical examination. Tests used to diagnose an immune disorder include:
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Blood tests. Blood tests can determine if you have normal levels of infection-fighting proteins (immunoglobulin) in your blood and measure the levels of blood cells and immune system cells. Abnormal numbers of certain cells can indicate an immune system defect.
Blood tests also can determine if your immune system is responding properly and producing antibodies — proteins that identify and kill foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses.
Prenatal testing. Parents who've had a child with a primary immunodeficiency disorder may want to be tested for certain immunodeficiency disorders during future pregnancies. Samples of the amniotic fluid, blood or cells from the tissue that will become the placenta (chorion) are tested for abnormalities.
In some cases, DNA testing is done to test for a genetic defect. Test results make it possible to prepare for treatment soon after birth, if necessary.
- Primary immunodeficiency. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/Pages/primary_immuno.aspx. Accessed Nov. 23, 2014.
- About primary immunodeficiencies. Immune Deficiency Foundation. http://primaryimmune.org/about-primary-immunodeficiencies/. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Pasternack MS. Approach to the adult with recurrent infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 23, 2014.
- Stiehm ER. Approach to the child with recurrent infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 23, 2014.
- Primary immunodeficiency diseases. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/primary-immunodeficiency-disease.aspx. Accessed Nov. 23, 2014.
- Berger M. Immune globulin therapy in primary immunodeficiency. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 23, 2014.
- General care. Immune Deficiency Foundation. http://primaryimmune.org/about-primary-immunodeficiencies/relevant-info/general-care/. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.