Diseases like type 1 diabetes, thyroid diseases, and lupus are common in different parts of the world. But few people know that they are known as autoimmune diseases. Wondering what are autoimmune diseases? Read further to learn the causes, symptoms, treatment, and much more.
The immune system typically guards against viruses and bacteria. When it gets signals of these foreign invaders, it produces an army of fighter cells to attack them.
While the immune system can tell the difference between your cells and foreign cells. In the case of autoimmune disease, your body system mistakenly considers your body cells as foreign bodies. Therefore, it releases proteins known as autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.
Every autoimmune disease has different effects on your body. Some target one organ, such as Type 1 diabetes, can damage the pancreas. Other conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can damage your whole body.
Experts are yet to know what causes the immune system to target the wrong parts. But it’s proven that some people have more risk of developing autoimmune diseases than others. Research indicates women develop autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men. Also, these diseases typically develop during childbearing age- between 15 to 44 years.
Some diseases are mostly found in specific ethnic groups. For instance, Hispanic and African American suffer more from lupus than white people. Few autoimmune conditions also run in families, like lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Since the rate of developing an autoimmune disease is rising, researchers believe that environmental factors like exposure to chemicals and infections might be involved. Our diet can also be a major factor in autoimmune diseases. Eating high-fat, high-sugar, and highly processed foods is associated with inflammation that leads to an immune response.
Some other factors that can cause autoimmune diseases are:
It is a type of arthritis that damages joints. This disease is more common in women and can cause soreness, redness, stiffness, and warmth in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also develop between the ages of 18 to 34.
This disease causes thick, scaly patches of skin. Our skin grows and then sheds when we no longer need it. In the case of psoriasis, your skin grows too quickly and builds up, leading to red patches, silver-white scales of plaque, and inflamed skin. More than 30% of patients can develop stiffness, swelling, and joint pain.
In autoimmune thyroid diseases specifically, your body makes antibodies that attack the cells in your thyroid. This can cause an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), tiredness, weight gain, and muscle fatigue. There are different kinds of thyroid diseases, so it is very important to monitor lab values to ensure your thyroid is functioning properly
Diabetes is common across the globe and usually develops when your immune system affects the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.
Here are some additional known types of autoimmune diseases that are common across the globe.
Symptoms depend on the type of autoimmune disease you have developed. Here we have categorized symptoms by the body parts they damage.
Diseases of muscles and joints:
Diseases of the digestive tract:
Diseases of the skin:
Diseases of the nervous system:
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough exam based on the signs of the disease. Here are some tests that you need to undergo.
Once doctors diagnose your health disease, they will treat it to:
The treatments will depend on your symptoms and diseases. Types of treatments include:
Some people opt for medicines to treat the immune system’s abnormal response, known as immunosuppressive medicines. The most common medicines are mycophenolate, tacrolimus, cyclophosphamide, or sirolimus.
Autoimmune diseases are some of the most severe conditions. However, they can be prevented by taking care of your health, choosing a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoiding harmful or toxic environments, and avoiding smoking and other health-impacting activities.
If you are observing any symptoms of autoimmune diseases, it’s important to consult your medical provider to assist or refer you to a specialist. At Nova Vita Wellness Centers, we help our patients who are suffering from autoimmune diseases to help reduce inflammation and other symptoms that occur. Additionally, we provide low cost labs to assist in the investigation and monitoring of lab values. Our qualified and trained team of medical providers will help to provide the best healthcare to minimize the risk of developing severe symptoms or other health issues. So, contact us today to get on your path to wellness and a better quality of life.