What is CVID?

CVID is Common Variable Immune Deficiency. When someone is diagnosed with CVID this means that one part of the immune system that comprises protective antibodies is deficient. Protective antibodies are made naturally after we have been exposed to “germs” or we have received a vaccination. When these antibodies are very low and not protective, then the immune system is not as capable of preventing and fighting off infections.

CVID can be diagnosed by a complete medical history, physical exam and with blood tests. Unfortunately many people who have CVID are not diagnosed when symptoms present and it may take many years to diagnose.

Recurrent infections of the respiratory tract (sinusitis, bronchitis and / or pneumonia), gastrointestinal tract are the most common infections patients with CVID have, however other recurrent infections such as skin or urinary tract are common as well. In addition to developing infections more readily than others, infections that last longer and are harder to resolve occur as well. These symptoms might be a clue to having CVID and should be discussed with a doctor and if possible a referral to an allergist and immunologist.

Having an immune disorder is not common and therefore there could be a number of reasons why the above symptoms are present without an immune disorder. Therefore a proper evaluation is of utmost importance.

Even though an immune disorder is rare, CVID is not rare among immune disorders. In fact, it is the most common immune disorder that occurs because of the genetic “makeup” of the immune system and not due to an infection, medications or other serious illness.

Many people who have CVID experience health effects beyond recurrent infections and many people with CVID have differing health problems and infections. Therefore there is quite a bit of variability with respect to the effects of CVID on any one person. This can make CVID hard to diagnose in some people who have CVID.

Once diagnosed many people who have CVID can focus on the opportunity to take charge of their health again. Follow-up with a specialist who treats CVID, starting effective treatments to support the immune system and maintaining vigilance to detect any changes in health are key to living with CVID. Many people with CVID participate in all the activities of life they intend with little interruptions or limitations.