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Infections in People With Impaired Defenses

By

Larry M. Bush

, MD, FACP, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University

Last full review/revision Jul 2020
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Topic Resources
  • Extensive burns: Risk of infection is increased because damaged skin cannot prevent invasion by harmful microorganisms.

  • Medical procedures: During a procedure, foreign material may be introduced into the body, increasing the risk of infection. Such material includes catheters inserted into the urinary tract or a blood vessel, tubes inserted into the windpipe, and sutures placed under the skin.

  • Drugs that suppress the immune system: These drugs include cancer chemotherapy drugs, drugs used to prevent rejection after an organ transplant (such as azathioprine, methotrexate, and cyclosporine), corticosteroids (such as prednisone), and biologic agents (such as adalimumab and others used for diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases).

  • Radiation treatments: Such treatments may suppress the immune system, particularly when bone marrow is exposed to radiation.

  • AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is transmitted... read more Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection : The ability to fight certain infections decreases dramatically in people with AIDS, especially late in the disease. People with AIDS are at particular risk of opportunistic infections (infections by microorganisms that generally do not cause infection in people with a healthy immune system). Also, many common infections cause people with AIDS to become more severely ill.

Spotlight on Aging: Infections

Infections are more likely and usually more severe in older people than in younger people for several reasons:

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
IMURAN
NEORAL, SANDIMMUNE
OTREXUP
HUMIRA
RAYOS
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