The immune system plays an essential role in protecting our body from infections and diseases. Autoimmune disease interrupts the process and one’s own immune system starts to attack healthy cells of the body. This disease is not curable but it can be managed with early diagnosis and accurate treatment methods. It may affect different parts of our body.
Experts are not sure about the causes of this disease. It can be genetic or a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This disease runs in families specifically in women. Low fever, muscle pain, and fatigue are initial symptoms. Inflammation is also an observable sign of the autoimmune system which causes swelling, pain, heat, and redness.
The treatment of this disease depends on the severity of the disease. The drugs which can reduce the immune response and other medicines are prescribed to treat the problem. Following proper diet plan and regular exercise can also help in managing the disease.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease refers to the condition in which one’s own immune system starts attacking the body. Normally, the immune system has to guard the body again viruses and bacteria. But when it starts attacking own body, then it creates endless problems. Normally, immune system has the capability to identify differences between own cells of the body and foreign cells. But when an individual suffers from the autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly identifies the own body cells as foreign objects. In this way, it releases autoantibodies which are specific proteins to attack healthy cells of the body.
Some autoimmune diseases target just one organ of the body but some other diseases attack the whole body. Type 1 diabetes is the disease which happens when just 1 part of the body is attacked and SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) is the disease which happens when the whole body is attacked.
Why does the immune system attack the body?
The exact reason why one’s own immune system attacks the body is not known until now. However, researches reveal that some people are more prone to get the disease as compared to others. Women are more likely to get affected by the disease. Some ethnic groups are more prone to get the disease as compared to others. Or instance, Hispanic and African-Americans get affected by Lupus. Lupus, multiple sclerosis and related diseases run in the families. Here, you need to know that if any of the ancestors were having this disease, then it is not necessary that every person of the family will be suffered from this disease. In fact, until now researchers don’t know what exactly causes the onset of such diseases. It can be diet, genetics, exposure to specific chemicals, or infections.
According to an estimate, 24 million USA residents are affected by Autoimmune diseases and most of them are women.
Early symptoms of the diseases are quite similar. Have a look at them!
- Hair loss
- Tingling or numbness in the feet & hands
- Low-grade fever
- Redness & swelling
- Achy muscles
- Problem in concentration
- Skin rashes
The specific disease can also have specific symptoms. For example, if the patient is suffering from type 1 diabetes that the symptoms of fatigue, weight loss, and extreme level of thirst can be revealed. On the contrary, the symptoms may show and disappear if the patient is suffering from psoriasis and related diseases. The time period when symptoms revealed is known as flare-up and the time period when symptoms disappear is known as remission. Conclusively, swelling, redness, muscle aches, and fatigue are the usual signs of autoimmune disease. Symptoms may appear and fade away with time.
List Of Autoimmune Diseases
Following are some of the complete list of autoimmune diseases.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Myasthenia gravis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Graves’ disease
- Psoriasis arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Reactive arthritis
- Mixed connective tissue disease
- Systemic scleroderma
- Optic neuritis
- Balo concentric sclerosis
- IPEX syndrome
- Autoimmune oophoritis
- Alopecia Universalis
When To Visit A Doctor?
If you are having visible symptoms, then you should visit an expert doctor on an immediate basis. You should know the type of disease and visit the concerned doctor.
- Dermatologists – They are used to treat skin conditions, for example, psoriasis.
- Endocrinologists – They are used to treat diseases related to glands. They may include Addison’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Graves’ disease, etc.
- Gastroenterologists – they are used to treating the diseases related to GI tract. They may include Crohn’s disease and Celiac.
- Rheumatologists – they are used to treating the disease related to joints. They may include SLE, Sjögren’s syndrome, and arthritis, etc.
Visiting your doctor is important to get early diagnosis to your disease. In this way, you will be able to manage your symptoms in a better way.
Tests For Diagnosis
You should know that just getting one test cannot help you in the diagnosis of the autoimmune disease. When you visit your doctor, after a proper evaluation, he will prescribe a combination of the tests to get the diagnosis.
Usually, ANA (antinuclear antibody test) is the first test which is prescribed for the diagnosis on the basis of symptoms. The positive results of this test reveal that you may have one of the autoimmune diseases, but it doesn’t confirm the actual disease. Further tests are required to get the diagnosis of exact disease. Some nonspecific tests may also be performed for the inflammation which is made in the body. Conclusively, after the results of ANA test, your doctor will further use your symptoms and related tests for getting the exact diagnosis.
As it is already mentioned that autoimmune diseases are not curable but they can be managed with the help of treatments. Also, treatments help in reducing inflammation and pain. Following are some of the drugs which are usually used.
- Immune-suppressing drugs
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
Eating a well-balanced diet and doing regular exercise along with treatment is helpful in reducing pain, skin rashes, fatigue, swelling, and other related symptoms. So, medicines are utilized to bring down inflammation and for reducing the adverse react of the immune system.
According to medical experts, above 80 types of autoimmune diseases are available. Hence, most of the symptoms overlap. So, the diagnosis becomes difficult. These types of diseases are more common among women. Blood tests can assist doctors to diagnose the conditions. Medicines and other latest treatment options can help in bringing down the symptoms.