What is Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)?

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is caused by the deficiency of certain proteins / antibodies in the body that results in weak immune system. As a result, patient becomes vulnerable to plethora of infections affecting ear, nose and respiratory system. Moreover, the patient may also be at risk for diseases related to blood disorders, digestive disorders and even cancer.


What is Common Variable Immune Deficiency

Alternative names for common variable immune deficiency (CVID) include Acquired Hypogammaglobulinemia or the more sinister version called common variable hypogammaglobulinemia. Sometimes it is also termed as Late-onset immunoglobulin deficiency or common variable immunodeficiency.

Generally symptoms of common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are manifested in patients when they are adolescents or children but common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is truly visible during adulthood. It is a genetic disorder or can be acquired over a period of your lifetime.

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is considered as most common major immunodeficiency diseases and it is an amalgamation of group of immunologic disorders of unexplained etiology. Once the person is affected by common variable immune deficiency (CVID), he or she experiences a sudden decrease in the immunoglobulin G (IgG) serum level accompanied by a subsequent decrease in IgA (immunoglobulin A) level as well. In some instances, IgM (immunoglobulin M) level also takes a hit.

According to the research, common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is an immunodeficiency syndrome affecting one among 25,000 people as a part of the general population. Since, the frequency is high; it is termed as a 'common' disease. Variable adjective is added to the terminology because thee serum level of the immunoglobulins differs from one patient to another. Some patients have shown inherent defects in the T cells which in turn have enhanced their vulnerability to life threatening diseases such as tumors or Granulomata.

In order to zero in on common variable immune deficiency (CVID), physicians should make sure that the functional antibodies are absent in the blood and other reasons for the sudden drop in the immunoglobin's level is ruled out. Patients affected with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are at an increased risk of contracting cancer or granulomata as compared to the healthy individuals. Presence of the above mentioned causes prompts medical consultants to diagnose common variable immune deficiency (CVID).

Sometimes people confuse common variable immune deficiency (CVID) with AIDS as both use the suffix acquired however the two syndromes are quite different.


Autoimmune Phenomena: It is observed that 20% patients affected with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) might develop other diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia etc...

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) may also cause gastro intestinal disorders ranging from autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis along with intestinal nodular lymphoid hyperplasia and atrophic gastritis.


Malignancy: Infections in common variable immune deficiency (CVID) patients can quickly assume malignant characteristic.

What is an Immunodeficiency Disorder?

Immune deficiency disease is breakdown of the immune system of the body making it vulnerable to virus and bacterial infections. It is divided into two groups namely congenital and acquired. The former is hereditary or primary as the child is infected by common variable immune deficiency (CVID) since birth. The second category of diseases is contacted by the individuals later in their lives. According to experts, acquired immunodeficiency is common in majority of people.

How Common is Common Variable Immune Deficiency?

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) occurs rarely with a frequency on one in 25,000 to 50,000 nevertheless rates might vary across different regions of the world.

Pediatric Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)

Symptoms of common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are manifested early on in children or during the adolescent period. Generally about 28% of the people are diagnosed with disease by the time they reach 21 years of age. The median age for the symptom to appear is 24 years for males while 27 years in females. As far as the diagnosis is concerned, males were found with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) at an early age of 30 years and females at an age of 34 years.

Causes of Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)

One of the reasons for the occurrence of common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is its heterogeneous behavior. According to research, genetic reasons may also lead to the occurrence of the disease. About 20% of the people infected are found to have one on of the family members suffering from IgA deficiency. In case of multiple members affected with the disease, the chances of contacting common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are higher.

Doctors are not able to clearly define the role of the genes in the spread of diseases. Some patients who suffer from common variable immune deficiency (CVID) do not have visible family history of the disease. Numerous symptoms related to autosomal recessive along with autosomal dominant & X related forms may arise.

Autosomal recessive pattern is observed in 2 or more members are affected by acquire immunodeficiency syndrome.

Sometimes excessive usage of antirheumatic or antiepileptic drugs is considered as the root cause of common variable immune deficiency (CVID) disease. It gives birth to the syndrome in an individual whose immune system is weak due to genetic issues.

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) is associated with the use of antirheumatic or antiepileptic drugs. If such an association is confirmed soon after as a causal relationship, the genetic etiology may turn out to be a genetic predisposition to the disease. Aberration in the differential of B human cells is also regarded as one of the causes of disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) symptoms could be noticed right from an infected child to an adult.

Generally the disease manifest itself in the form of unusual infections however the symptoms are mostly visible in 30s and 40s.

Individuals suffering from common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are vulnerable to infections because of the deficiency of antibodies in the blood stream. As antibodies are lacking, the vaccines would not have any effect on the spread of the infection. Individuals often suffer from respiratory tract infections that might escalate in to acute disease of lungs, sinus and ears. It can eventually prove to be fatal for the patients.

Some common gastrointestinal disorders include nausea, pain along with bloating and vomiting. People with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) do not have the capacity to assimilate the vitamins and other essential nutrients from the digestive system. In addition, individuals also experience regular infections of the small intestine due to giardia lamblia which is considered as a single celled microorganism.

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) also makes the patients vulnerable to other types of digestive system infections that are very similar in symptoms to giardiasis. Campylobacter and many more diseases are bound to affect the individuals.

There are instances when the lYmphoid tissue may grow into the stomach causing nodular lymphoid hyperplasia syndrome. Lymphoma can be observed in patients suffering from common variable immune deficiency (CVID) due to poor immunity system. Medical researchers predict that the probability of catching gastric carcinoma enhances by almost 50%. With reduced immunity, noncaseating granulomas in the tissues of the human skin as well as the lungs can also occur with alarming regularities. It can also affect spleen and liver.

Quarter of the patients suffering from common variable immune deficiency (CVID) can also get affected by autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) anemia & Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) which are two primary categories of autoimmune syndromes. If you want to know more information from the rare disease list, use the strings 'Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura' along with 'Anemia, Hemolytic, and Acquired Autoimmune' for searching.

Doctors are still puzzled about the vulnerability of the common variable immune deficiency (CVID) patients to autoimmune diseases. It impairs the immune system while auto immune syndromes are triggered by hyper movements of protection organism of the body. There are many more quantitative & also qualitative reasons that are guilty for common variable immune deficiency (CVID) occurrence.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: April 2, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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