Know all about autoimmune diseases

Every living being is blessed with an immune system that shields the body against disease-bearing bacteria and viruses. The immune system works at identifying these foreign invaders and attacks them to protect the busy against infections and illnesses. It sends out a troop of antibodies that recognizes the foreign intruder causing harm to the healthy body cells and kills them. However, when the immune system fails at recognizing the healthy cells from the foreign invader cells, it starts attacking the healthy cells of your body like the skin and joints.  

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What causes autoimmune diseases?

A healthy immune system can differentiate between own cells and foreign cells. However, in autoimmune disorders, the body fails to differentiate and starts producing antibodies that are directed to attack the healthy body tissues. These autoantibodies attack the healthy cells by mistake.

There is yet no specific reason pointed out by doctors that lead to autoimmune disease. The ratio of women to men getting affected by autoimmune disease is 2:1. Autoimmune diseases are common in certain ethnic groups and genetic history. In the recent times, more and more people are suffering from autoimmune disorders. Medical researchers are suspecting exposure to chemicals in the environment that leads to infections. Also, factors like the modern ‘western’ diet (high-fat & high-sugar, processed food) and hygiene hypothesis are to be blamed although there have been no proofs so far.  

Common autoimmune diseases:

People around the world are affected by a number of autoimmune diseases. Here are some common diseases that are widely known.
1.    Rheumatoid arthritis
2.    Lupus
3.    Type 1 Diabetes
4.    Psoriasis
5.    Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
6.    Celiac disease
7.    Inflammatory Bowel Disease
8.    Multiple Sclerosis

Symptoms of autoimmune diseases:

The symptoms particular to the autoimmune disease shows up much later. However, here are some common early signs that might help diagnose an autoimmune disease

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Inflammation (Swelling and Red skin rashes)
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Joint pain
  • Lack of focus
  • Blood clots

Treatment of autoimmune diseases:

The diagnosis for an autoimmune disease takes time. Doctors usually run a series of tests and assess symptoms faced to diagnose the type of autoimmune disease you are suffering from. However, the first and foremost test is ANA (anti-nuclear antibody) blood test. A positive result determines your body has autoimmune disease. 

These diseases can be treated and managed, not cured. Drugs are used to reduce inflammation and suppress the overactive immune response. A change in diet and lifestyle along with adaptation to a healthy environment will help get rid of systematic inflammation that results in autoimmune condition.

Every autoimmune disease is distinct in its own way. Get aware of your disease and try to find the root cause for it. You may visit a general physician too who after running a series of tests will recommend you to a medical specialist for further detailed investigation. 

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