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):
  • Increased Folic Acid Need
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Vitamin A Need
  • Leukemia
  • Sepsis
  • Hypersplenism
  • Radiation Poisoning
  • Aplastic Anemia

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:
cysts in breasts
current birth control pill use
cracked skin
thin cracked heel calluses
frequent colds/flus
bumps on backs of arms
macrocytic red cells
severe diffuse bone pain
H2-blocker antacid use
elevated eosinophil count
reduced sense of taste
regular hangnails
... 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
Leukemia 95% Confirm
Sepsis 21% Unlikely
Hypersplenism 17% Unlikely
Increased Folic Acid Need 1% Ruled out
Weakened Immune System 1% Ruled out
Vitamin A Need 1% Ruled out
Radiation Poisoning 0% Ruled out
Aplastic Anemia 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:

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia reduces the bone marrow's ability to produce white blood cells.

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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