Let us understand the fundamentals of autoimmune diseases.
What are autoimmune diseases?
Our immune system defends us against disease and infection by fighting against microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria that enter our bodies. As your immune system recognises that the bacteria are foreign agents, it destroys them. When we have an autoimmune illness, our immune system mistakenly destroys healthy cells in our organs and tissues.
There are about 80 different autoimmune disorders. They can have an impact on practically any portion of our body. Let us consider the disease, Alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disorder that causes hair loss. The liver is affected by autoimmune hepatitis. In the case of Type 1 Diabetes the immune system destroys the pancreatic beta cells. In Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks many different areas of the body, including the joints, lungs and eyes.
What are the various autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune illness occurs when the body’s natural defence mechanism is unable to distinguish between your cells and foreign bodies, causing the body to target normal cells inadvertently. Around 80 different forms of autoimmune disorders affect various body parts.
Let us capture the list of common autoimmune diseases:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Hashimoto – autoimmune Thyroiditis
- Celiac disease
- ‘Graves’ disease
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- Rheumatic Fever
- Pernicious Anemia or atrophic gastritis
- Alopecia Areata
- Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura
What factors contribute to autoimmune diseases?
Nobody knows why autoimmune disorders occur. However, you cannot catch them from other individuals.
Autoimmune disorders do run in families, which indicates that specific genes may predispose some people to have a problem. Viruses, chemicals and other environmental factors may cause an autoimmune illness.
Researchers studied more than 100,000 persons diagnosed with stress-related diseases and compared their likelihood to acquire autoimmune disease at least one year later with 126,000 of their siblings and another million people who did not have stress-related disorders in a new study.
According to the findings of the study, those who have a stress-related condition were more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, develop multiple autoimmune diseases, and have a higher probability of autoimmune disease if they were younger.
Who is at risk of developing autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune illnesses affect millions of people of all ages around the world. Women are significantly more likely than males to suffer autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, if you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to get another.
What are the symptoms of an autoimmune disease?
The symptoms of an autoimmune illness differ depending on which region of your body is afflicted.
Many autoimmune disorders have similar early signs, such as:
- Muscle aches and weariness
- Redness and swelling
- Low-grade fever, difficulty in concentrating, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, and hair loss
- Rashes on the skin
- Individual illnesses might also have distinct symptoms. Type 1 Diabetes, for instance, produces severe thirst, weight loss and exhaustion. IBD is characterised by abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhoea.
However, the same symptoms might be caused by other disorders too.
Symptoms of autoimmune illnesses such as psoriasis or RA may come and go. A flare-up is a period of symptoms. Remission refers to the period when the symptoms disappear.
Autoimmune illness symptoms might come and go. In the case of acute conditions, your symptoms may become severe within a short period. Later on, you may experience a remission, in which your symptoms improve or vanish for a while.
How can autoimmune disease be diagnosed?
Autoimmune illnesses can be detected in a variety of ways.
Doctors frequently examine to diagnose autoimmune disorders. There is generally no precise test to determine whether you have an autoimmune illness. Furthermore, the symptoms might be perplexing. It is because many autoimmune diseases have identical symptoms. Moreover, certain symptoms, such as muscular pains, are typical in various conditions. As a result, getting a diagnosis might take a long time and several visits to multiple doctors.
Symptoms of autoimmune illnesses are generic and overlap with symptoms of other problems and other autoimmune disorders. This factor can make it challenging to identify an autoimmune disorder appropriately.
Lupus, for example, can damage the joints in the same way as Rheumatoid Arthritis does, although the symptoms are usually less severe. IBD has symptoms similar to celiac disease, although gluten is not usually caused.
In addition, the diagnosis method varies based on the ailment. However, blood tests are frequently required. Doctors often use antibodies generated by the immune system to diagnose autoimmune diseases.
A complete blood count is a test that allows the doctor to assess the numbers of white and red blood cells in the body. When the immune system fights off an infection, the levels fluctuate from the normal baseline.
What treatments and therapies are available for autoimmune diseases?
The therapy is determined based on the ailment. The purpose of therapy in most situations is to inhibit (slow down) the immune system and reduce swelling, redness, and discomfort caused by inflammation. To help you feel better, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other medications. Some illnesses may necessitate therapy for the remainder of your life.
Other medications used to treat these disorders are:
- Immunosuppressive medications.
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn)- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- There are various treatments available to eliminate symptoms such as pain, swelling, exhaustionand skin rashes.
- Eating a well-balanced diet and regular exercise regimen can also help you feel better.
There are many autoimmune disorders. Some create unpleasant symptoms that impact a person’s quality of life but are not life-threatening. Other autoimmune diseases are more dangerous and can result in long-term tissue damage. In many situations, treatment techniques such as taking medication, changing one’s food and lifestyle can help manage symptoms. You can always contact your healthcare provider, who can assist in diagnosing and treating a particular autoimmune disorder.