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Selective IgA deficiency – causes, side effects and treatments at

Saturday, May 26, 2018 by

Immunoglobulin A (or IgA) is a blood protein that’s part of the body’s immune system. It’s found in the mucous membranes, such as the respiratory and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as in breast milk, tears, and saliva. It’s also the body’s first line of defense against bacterial and viral infection. However, IgA is also linked to autoimmune health problems, where the body’s immune system attacks itself by mistake.

Thus, the term selective IgA deficiency (SIgAD), sometimes called IgA deficiency, refers to the condition where the body has undetectable levels of IgA in their blood and secretions. Although people with a selective IgA deficiency do not have enough – or lack entirely –  immunoglobin (or antibody), they still produce other classes, and the function of other parts of the immune system remain normal.

The condition is also the most common primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD), which are conditions wherein a part of the immune system is either absent or does not function properly. People with the condition are prone to infections, and they have are more likely to experience autoimmune disease. A typical sign of people with selective IgA deficiency is the presence of allergies or asthma.

At least 250,000 individuals in the U.S. have selective IgA deficiency, and studies have identified that one in every 500 Caucasian people have the condition.

Known risk factors and symptoms of selective IgA deficiency

Most cases of selective IgA deficiency are passed down through families, either as an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive trait, but some reports have indicated instances of drug-induced IgA deficiency.

People of European ancestry have also been shown to have a higher likelihood of getting the disease.

For the most part, people with a selective IgA deficiency do not exhibit symptoms. However, when the symptoms appear, these include the following episodes:

  • Bronchitis (an infection in the airways)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – these include ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease
  • Mouth infection
  • Otitis media (infection in the middle ear)
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin infections
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Skin infection

Body systems affected by selective IgA deficiency

Some complications from selective IgA deficiency include the following.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – An inflammatory condition that affects the hands and feet
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus – A disease where the immune system attacks its own tissues
  • Celia sprue – A reaction to eating gluten, a protein common in wheat, barley, and rye
  • Anaphylactic reactions – Allergic reactions to blood transfusion or immunoglobulin

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve selective IgA deficiency

If a person is diagnosed with selective IgA deficiency, it may be necessary to change his diet to manage chronic diarrhea, poor nutrient absorption, and food-based allergies. In particular, a gluten-free diet may be required to treat patients with celiac disease.

There are some herbs and supplements that a person can take to manage the condition and support the immune system; however, consult with a healthcare professional to explore possible allergic reactions to these items.

  • Ginseng
  • Zinc
  • L-arginine
  • Cat’s claw
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenseal
  • Maitake mushrooms

Treatment and management options for selective IgA deficiency

In most cases, people with selective IgA deficiency do not need treatment.

Most healthcare professionals will provide antibiotic treatment to address infections related to the condition.

For drug-induced SIgAD, stopping the drug usually solves the problem.

Where to learn more


Selective IgA deficiency (SIgAD) is a condition where the body has undetectable levels of IgA in their blood and secretions.

Selective IgA deficiency is passed down through families, but some reports have cases of drug-induced IgA deficiency.

People with selective IgA deficiency may need to change their diets to manage the condition.

In most cases, people with selective IgA deficiency do not need treatment.

Sources include: 1 2


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