Autoimmune Diseases are a group of conditions that affect your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissue. Your immune system protects you against germs (viruses and bacteria) in most instances. But in people with an autoimmune disease, their immune systems attack their organs and tissues.
Individual symptoms can differ. However, most auto-immune illnesses cause inflammation that can affect a wide range of body parts from joints and bones to the blood vessels and skin. The inflammation can cause joint pain, deformed joints, the feeling of itching, weakness, difficult breathing, fluid accumulation (edema), delirium, and even death.
A range of between 5% and 10 percent of Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder. This includes rheumatoid arthritis Crohn’s disease, Lupus, and MS.
Most autoimmune diseases begin during the earliest years of childhood when your immune system is developing. Some sufferers develop symptoms later in life, such as after 50.
Risk factors for autoimmune diseases are believed to be a result of genetics, diet, infections and exposure to chemicals or solvents. Research is still underway to learn more about these risk factors.
The history of your family’s an autoimmune disorder can aid your doctor in making a diagnosis and determine the best treatment for you. Ask your doctor about the health problems that your grandparents and aunts and uncles suffered from.
Rheumatoid is the most common type of autoimmune disease. RA is a long-lasting disease that is often debilitating and can cause stiffness and swelling in joints and connective tissue (synovia).
Other autoimmune diseases are psoriasis and lupus. In these conditions the immune system mistake normal, healthy cells in joints and on your skin for foreign materials, such as fungi or viruses.
A condition known as autoimmune increases your chance of contracting other diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. These diseases can be reduced by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, as well as keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol in an acceptable range.
If you suffer from one of these autoimmune diseases, see your healthcare provider as soon as you can to receive an assessment and treatment plan. Early treatment can reduce symptoms and improve quality of your life.
To confirm that you suffer from an autoimmune condition, your doctor may order laboratory tests. This includes blood tests, a urine analysis and a physical examination.
Your doctor will review your medical records and take a thorough look at your symptoms to identify an autoimmune disorder. They will also ask questions about your lifestyle and what caused the symptoms.
It is crucial to monitor and keep track of your autoimmune symptoms as they can change in time. It’s also important to share your notes with your doctor so that they can assist you in making the most of your treatment plan.
In some autoimmune conditions like psoriasis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, your doctor may prescribe medications to slow down your immune system and ease inflammation. These are referred to as immunosuppressants.
Your doctor might also recommend surgery to treat your autoimmune disease. For instance, people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease might need a procedure to remove the colon’s part and create an internal pouch, called an ileostomy. This surgery is less permanent than a colectomy and is possible to perform when the disease is not severe.