If I have frequent infections, what that means, do I have immune problem? Do I have AIDS? What could be the causes for them?
Let me start by talking about the infections. Infections are reactions in our body to living foreign materials that come to our bodies. Some of them called viruses which are very small organisms that depend on our body to survive. Colds are usually viruses in nature. There are bigger organisms that can live by themselves. They can also come to our body. They are called bacteria.
When these organisms come in our body, our bodies react to them. The body will send the army to fight them. This army is in the blood and has certain cells and proteins. When the blood attacks the organisms, this area usually gets warm and red. We usually see this when the place of entry of the organism is on the skin. The skin gets warm and red and even swollen from the blood and fluid that accumulate there.
Normally, everyone gets exposed to these organisms. Some of us do not take them much to fight them. Sometimes we don’t even feel that fight. Some others feel this fight and develop what we call infections. If the infection affects the whole body, usually the body gets fever and tired because he is in a fight with these organisms.
Is there certain number of infections, if you get it, means that you have a problem? The answer is simply NO. Some infections are more serious than others. If you develop one infection in the lung or the brain, it is much more significant than having a cold. You might ask, why? Simply these organs usually get infected when the immune system is down. You might get one infection in the lung in your life time but if you get more than one or get any infections in the brain, your immune system should be checked to see if working ok or not.
Colds and sinuses infections are different. They are much more common. If you have allergy, you are more susceptible to get them more than others. Children in day care also get more colds than others.
There are many more infections that can affect us. Each of them has its own causes and significance in deciding how our immune system is working.
So you might ask when I get concern. In general if you get very sick with the infections, or you get more than 4-6 sinus infections/ear infections/colds per year or you get uncommon infections or had sinus surgery for the frequent sinus infections, you need to be checked to see if your immune system is ok unless there is a good reason for them as decided by your doctor.
Some might ask, when you say immune problem, do you mean AIDS? People usually get AIDS when they are active sexual with a partner who has the disease or through unclean needles. If you are one of them, yes AIDS is a possibility. AIDS can also be transferred by the blood transfusions. Those got blood transfusions before the blood was tested for AIDS, could have got the disease. So if you are not one of these groups, it is very unlikely to get AIDS.
Immune weakness (immunodeficiency) can happen without AIDS. It can happen due to certain diseases like diabetes or under nutrition, but it can also happen without other disease. We call this primary immunodeficiency. There are many diseases under this group.
If you suspect a problem, please check with your doctor who can decide if you have any of the above problems.