A microscopic view of white blood cells attacking foreign intruders

Common Variable Immune Deficiency and Asthma

Shortly before Christmas, I started feeling a sore throat coming on. I was at my mom’s house a few hours away from where I live. There are not many good doctors in her area, so I made the hard decision to drive back to my hometown so that I would be close to my doctors and decent medical facilities, should things escalate.

My symptoms progressed pretty quickly and I found myself at Urgent Care on Christmas evening. The doctor there is pretty familiar with me and quickly put me on a round of steroids and some antibiotics. But why antibiotics when I had only been sick for a few days, especially when a viral infection was the more likely culprit?

A new diganosis: Chronic Variable Deficiency

I have a history of some pretty significant infections. Long courses of steroids and antibiotics, and a few hospitalizations sprinkled in. A few months ago one of my doctors who is an allergist/immunologist started to run some more tests to see if there was something more significant going on with my immune system. My doctor ran some blood work and did something called a vaccine challenge. I was tested to see if I had any antibodies against pneumonia (which I had none of) and then given the pneumonia vaccine. My body should have responded to the vaccine and built up immunity against the different strains of pneumonia, but when we rechecked my labs a few weeks after the vaccine my antibodies had actually decreased. After running a few more tests, my doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Variable Immune Deficiency or CVID for short.

To put it simply, my body does not have the capacity to fight off infections by itself. When faced with an intruder, my body doesn’t really have much of a defense system in place. If I get sick with anything, viral, bacterial, or fungal, I’m in for quite the battle.

So, back to Christmas night. I may have only had a viral infection at that point, but the likelihood that my viral infection would become bacterial was pretty high. That’s why it was so important to start antibiotics early on. The sooner I can start antibiotics, the risk of a more serious infection decreases. The antibiotic we started with wasn’t quite cutting it, so my team had to switch me to something else, and when that didn’t make a difference, I was switched yet again until we finally found an antibiotic that helped me fight whatever it was that was attacking my body.

Asthma and CVID: Needing to avoid getting sick

Having asthma, and pretty bad asthma at that, I am susceptible to lung infections, to begin with. But now that I have a new diagnosis of immune deficiency, my doctors and I have to be even more diligent to treat any kind of symptoms that pop up. Now, whenever I start to feel sick, no matter what it is, I need to start antibiotics. Pretty soon I will be starting a new medicine that will give my body the antibodies needed to fight infections. It will help my immune system fight off infections so that hopefully I won’t need to be on antibiotics as often. But even so, I have to be super careful and take extra precautions to avoid getting sick.

Do you have to take antibiotics when you get sick? Let us know in the comments!

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