Woman finds relief to chronic illness

Chronic disorder goes un-diagnosed

MENTOR, OH (WOIO) - Now is the time of year known as the cold and flu season.

It can be quite the inconvenience for many people.  But, it can be especially tough on some people who seem to find themselves dealing with infections all year round.

We're talking about those people who are constantly fighting off respiratory infections.

It could be more than just being in contact with the wrong germs at the wrong time.. it could be something more serious, but, when diagnosed very treatable.

"When I was sick I missed a lot of rehearsals which was frustrating," says dancer, 20-year-old Tori Stanek of Mentor.

But, now, she can pursue her dancing dreams. For the first time since she was a little girl she has her health back. She explains at first it was she was just experienced the usual childhood stuff like continuous sinus infections, strep throat, ear infections.

But, when all that just would not let up neither would she or her parents when it came to figuring out what was wrong.

That's why, now, she's always glad to see University Hospitals allergist Dr. Kent Knauer who says her's was an obvious case of what's called Common Variable Immune Deficiency.

"It's a disorder of the antibody system in our body which is our means of protecting ourselves against bacteria," says Dr. Knauer.

It's said to be a disorder many people don't even know they have and unlike Tori they just accept that they're just the so-called sickly type.

But,  a simple blood test can detect it and antibiotics given regularly through abdominal injections or IV treat the condition with what can be life changing results.

"This kind of chronic illness you can never promise anybody to be 100 percent better, but, most of my patients are happy with 80 percent improvement, they can sleep well and wake up feeling good," says Dr. Knauer.

That's exactly what's going on with Tori now.

He diagnosed and started treating her about 3 years ago and she doesn't remember ever feeling so good as she shows her ballet and tap-dancing skills at their best.

"It makes me feel really good we've gotten to this point and we know treatment is very helpful and I just want to tell more people about this," says Stanek.

She adds, especially the many previous doctors who told her for so many years she wasn't really sick.

So now she's a patient advocate.

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