Common Variable Immunodeficiency (cvid)

Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, Nanavati Hospital and B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai India.
First Created: 01/04/2001  Last Updated: 01/04/2001

Patient Education

What is common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)?

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is a primary Immunodeficiency in which patients have low levels of serum immunoglobulins (antibodies) and an increased susceptibility to infections. In some patients, there is a decrease in both IgG and IgA; in others, all three antibodies IgG, IgA, and IgM may be decreased.

What are the symptoms of common variable immunodeficiency?

Symptoms of CVID are varied. Some patients have recurrent infections in childhood. Infections usually involve the ears, sinuses, nose, and lungs. Some patients may not develop any symptoms until the 2nd or 3rd decade of life. In adults, the presentation may be of an autoimmune disorder such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), or arthritis or thyroid disease. Patients may develop enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, chest, or abdomen.

What is the cause of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)?

The cause of CVID is largely unknown though it is suspected to be due to abnormality in certain genes.

What is the treatment of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)?

Treatment of CVID consists of the replacement of immunoglobulins by giving immunoglobulin (IVIG) replacement therapy. The response is good in patients without significant organ damage. Whenever infection occurs, specific antibiotics for the bacteria causing the infection are given.

What are the complications of common variable immunodeficiency?

Complications of CVID depend on the severity of the disease. If there are recurrent severe lung infections, then permanent damage to the lungs can occur and a condition called bronchiectasis can result. Bronchiectasis can lead to difficulty in breathing, chronic cough, and increased risk of infection. Arthritis if untreated can lead to joint deformities, contractures, and restricted mobility. Some patients may have malabsorption of nutrients. Patients with CVID are also at high risk of cancer especially cancer of the gastrointestinal system, skin, and lymphoid system.

How is the diagnosis of common variable immunodeficiency made?

The diagnosis of CVID is confirmed by finding low levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies in the blood with a normal number of B-lymphocytes.


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