Frequency Of Infections

What Causes Repeated Infections?

Repeated infections can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose repeated infections, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "repeated infections" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Chemotherapy Side-Effects
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Fanconi Anemia
  • Hypersplenism
  • Cold Or Flu
  • Vitamin A Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
cracked skin
fatigue after slight exertion
morning stiffness for 45-120 minutes
frequent sore throats
major unexplained weight loss
elevated lymphocyte count
black/brown fingernails
non-vaginal candidiasis
having a slight fever
frequent unexplained fevers
elevated ANA levels
much reduced sense of taste
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of repeated infections:
Cause Probability Status
Hypersplenism 94% Confirm
Vitamin A Need 28% Unlikely
Fanconi Anemia 24% Unlikely
Myelodysplastic Syndrome 1% Ruled out
Lupus (SLE) 1% Ruled out
Cold Or Flu 1% Ruled out
Aplastic Anemia 0% Ruled out
Chemotherapy Side-Effects 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Immune System Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about frequency of infections:
How often do you get bacterial, viral, or fungal infections? For example, skin, ear, gastrointestinal, chest/respiratory, mouth, genitourinary. Symptoms usually include fever, pain, swelling, redness, pus, runny nose, sore throat, or swollen lymph nodes.
Possible responses:
→ Once a year or less / almost never
→ 1-2 per year / less than average
→ 2-3 per year / about average / don't know
→ 4-6 per year / regularly
→ More than 6 per year / I usually/always have one
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate very infrequent infections, infrequent infections, regular infections or frequent infections, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Leukemia

Due to its effects on white blood cells, leukemia prevents the immune system from working normally, sometimes resulting in frequent infections.

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Lupus patients have abnormalities in their immune systems that predispose them to develop infections.

Nephrotic Syndrome

Infection is a serious and frequent complication of nephrotic syndrome.

Neutropenia

The clinical signs of neutropenia manifest as infections, most commonly of the mucous membranes.  Skin is the second most common infection site, manifesting as ulcers, abscesses, and rashes.  The genitalia and perirectum also are affected.  Signs of infection, including warmth and swelling, may be absent.

Neutropenia also suggests the following possibilities:

Autoimmune Tendency

Autoimmune disease can cause chronic neutropenia.

Chemotherapy Side-Effects

The most common reason that cancer patients experience neutropenia is as a side-effect of chemotherapy.  Chemotherapy-induced neutropenia typically occurs 3-7 days following administration of the chemotherapy drugs and continues for several days before recovering to normal levels.  Infrequently, cancer patients may also experience neutropenia from other medications or as a consequence of their underlying cancer.

Radiation Poisoning

Radiation therapy or exposure can damage the bone marrow.

Sepsis

Neutropenia can be caused by widespread, severe bacterial infection that causes pus formation or bacteria in the blood, which in turn leads to increased destruction of neutrophils.

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