Home Health A-Z Selective IgA Deficiency : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Selective IgA Deficiency : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Verified By Apollo General Physician November 22, 2022 1118 0
Selective IgA Deficiency : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Selective IgA Deficiency

Selective IgA deficiency is an immunodeficiency disease. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody blood protein found in mucous membranes, particularly in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. It also is found in breast milk, saliva, and tears. The body makes IgA and other types of antibodies to fight off illness. An IgA deficiency is when the body contains very little or no IgA. 

What is Selective IgA Deficiency?

The condition of Selective IgA Deficiency (SIgAD) includes a patient older than four years of age. While people with Selective IgA Deficiency do not produce IgA, they do produce all other kinds of immunoglobulin. Due to this, many people with IgA deficiency appear healthy or only have a mild illness like gastrointestinal infections.

An immune system with an appropriate IgA level protects the mucous membranes covering the mouth, nose, and lungs from infection. 

Infections are most common in the following areas:

  1. Airways of the respiratory system
  2. The ears
  3. The mouth
  4. The eyes
  5. Intestinal Tract

The Symptoms and Causes of Selective IgA Deficiency 

About 85 to 90% of IgA-deficient individuals are asymptomatic. Some patients with IgA deficiency tend to develop respiratory infections and diseases such as asthma and pneumonia

Gastrointestinal infections and associated disorders, such as giardiasis malabsorption, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and nodular lymphoid hyperplasia may also develop. 

IgA Deficiency also contributes to allergic disorders. 

Several autoimmune diseases are caused by IgA deficiency, such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis

One in five cases of IgA deficiency are hereditary and passed down through family members who have IgA deficiency or similar disorders. 

When Should you See a Doctor for Selective IgA Deficiency?

Patients with IgA Deficiency rarely exhibit symptoms. IgA screening programs do not get routinely performed by professionals. Therefore it is vital to monitor your symptoms. In the event of frequent or repeated infections, you should consult a doctor.

Can Selective IgA Deficiency be prevented?

Inheritance is the only cause of SIgAD, so there is no way to prevent it. 

However, you can prevent the spread of germs and illnesses by keeping your hands clean and avoiding large crowds, especially during recent times with the prevalence of COVID-19. It is vital to discuss vaccines that may help prevent illness with your healthcare provider. You should consult a genetic counsellor if you have IgA deficiency and are concerned about passing it on to your children. 

How can you diagnose Selective IgA Deficiency? 

Often, immunologists will have blood tests done to assess a patient with a history of frequent infections or autoimmune diseases. Specific IgA deficiency is confirmed by low IgA levels. A level of IgA lower than 7 mg/dL (0.07 g/L), which is the lowest detectable limit established in laboratory tests, indicates selective IgA deficiency.

Can Selective IgA Deficiency be treated?

Those who are IgA-deficient but do not exhibit any symptoms do not need therapy. It is nevertheless essential to provide awareness and education. Medical alert bracelets should be recommended for patients with selective IgA deficiency. 

The backbone of treatment for IgA deficiency is the treatment of associated diseases. Patients who suffer from recurring infections may benefit from prophylactic antibiotics continuously or on an intermittent basis.

Historically, intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) were used to treat selective IgA deficiency. However, there is no convincing evidence that IVIG can be used for this condition. 

Generally, SIgAD patients do well unless they have significant comorbid diseases. Children with IgA deficiency can recover over time. The patient, however, should go for regular clinical and immunological follow-up after being diagnosed with IgA deficiency.


Among the many antibodies that are part of the body’s immune system, immunoglobulin A (IgA) is found in mucous membranes, especially those of the respiratory tract and digestive system. An IgA deficiency occurs when there is insufficient or no IgA production within the body. Most people with this condition are asymptomatic, and it is hereditary. Deficiency in IgA does not require specific treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is selective IgA deficiency hereditary?

Yes, it gets genetically transferred through families. The genetic basis for IgA deficiency, however, remains unclear.

Is diarrhea common in selective IgA deficiency?

Yes, it is a common symptom of SIgAD. 

How is selective IgA deficiency treated?

There is no particular symptom of SIgAD. However, the associated diseases are treated. 

Verified By Apollo General Physician

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