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Chronic urticaria and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID): an association to remember


The patient is a 64-year-old Caucasian woman with idiopathic chronic urticaria who presented to her primary care physician’s office with mucoid otitis media. Medical history was significant for hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, allergic rhinitis, pre-diabetes, gastro-oesophageal reflux, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney disease, diverticulosis with prior diverticulitis and history of recurrent infections. Her chronic urticaria was initially treated with antibiotics, antihistamines and oral steroids, but later she developed refractory urticaria requiring dapsone with modest improvement. When she presented with mucoid otitis media, immunoglobulin levels were found to be decreased. The pneumococcal vaccine antibody challenge confirmed the diagnosis of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). Her HIV test was negative. She was started on intravenous immunoglobulin infusions and her chronic urticaria stabilised.

In patients with chronic urticaria refractory to treatment, especially with a history of recurrent infections, a diagnosis of CVID should be considered, regardless of HIV status.

  • dermatology
  • general practice / family medicine
  • immunology

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