Acquired Immune Deficiencies

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  • 0:01 Immune Deficiency
  • 0:55 Acquired Immune Deficiencies
  • 2:33 Signs of Immune Deficiencies
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Immune deficiency means that the body has a lessened ability to fight infections. Immune deficiencies that result from an outside source are known as acquired immune deficiencies. Learn what puts you at risk and signs of immune deficiencies.

Immune Deficiency

If your immune system was a military base, you could think of some of your innards, such as the spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes and bone marrow, as military bases that are spread throughout your body. These bases make and send out white blood cell soldiers, known as B cells and T cells, who are constantly on the lookout for enemy soldiers, known as antigens.

Antigens come in different forms. They might be bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, or they might be substances contracted from another person, such as blood or bodily fluids. When you're in good health, your B and T cells win most of the immune system battles, but when the body is in a state of immune deficiency, your ability to respond to foreign invaders is diminished and your immune system is not able to fight off infection as effectively.

Acquired Immune Deficiencies

People can be born with immune deficiency disorders, which means that they have primary immune deficiencies. But for this lesson, we will focus on acquired immune deficiencies, otherwise known as secondary immune deficiencies. As you might guess, you're not born with this type. This type is acquired, or contracted, from an outside source.

Perhaps one of the most recognized infections that can invade the body and lead to immune deficiency is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that can be passed from one individual to the next through contaminated bodily fluids, such as blood or semen. HIV infection can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. In the case of AIDS, we see that the immune system is weakened by the HIV virus, and therefore a person with AIDS is highly susceptible to infection.

Yet there are other factors that weaken the immune system, besides HIV, that can put a person at risk of immune deficiency. These factors may be as common as stress, aging, a lack of sleep, and poor nutrition.

We also see that because the spleen is part of your immune system, the removal of the spleen can suppress your ability to fight infection. There are some drugs that suppress the immune system, including corticosteroids and chemotherapy drugs. There are also certain cancers and other conditions that can weaken your immune system.

Signs of Immune Deficiencies

As we know, the immune system is the body's army against foreign invaders. When you have an immune deficiency, this army is weakened, and you have a harder time keeping your body free from infection.

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