Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
What are autoimmune diseases?
The job of your immune system is to attack the harmful germs and bacteria that enter your body with the help of fighter cells – the white blood cells & beneficial bacteria. However, sometimes due to hormonal imbalances, a condition occurs in which your immune system starts acting abnormally and considers your body’s healthy tissues as foreign invaders where it starts attacking them. This medical condition in which your immune system produces antigens to attack your body is called an autoimmune medical infirmity that gives rise to autoimmune diseases.
There are surprisingly 80 different types of autoimmune diseases. Under this condition, your immune system releases autoantibodies (proteins) that specifically attack your joints and causes inflammation or dull pain.
In this article, you will get to know about the seven most common autoimmune diseases that can affect you and the symptoms and diagnoses you should look out for.
The 7 most common autoimmune diseases:
Disease #1: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Joint pain is a condition that normally affects the elderly due to the lack of several vitamins and minerals as a result of their age (osteoarthritis). But in some cases, joint pain can also occur in the early 30s or perhaps sooner. This condition is termed rheumatoid arthritis. If you are affected by RA, your immune system attacks the body joints causing inflammation, soreness, redness, swelling, and pain which can be permanent. RA often targets multiple joints at once, but typically causes joint inflammation in the hands, knees, and wrists.
Disease #2: Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a condition that usually occurs when your immune system begins striking insulin-producing cells, leading to increased blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone created in your pancreas which regulates and controls your blood sugar level.
Disease #3: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease occurs when your immune system attacks the inner lining of your intestines. It can give rise to episodes of stomach ailments like diarrhea, rectal bleeding, frequent bowel movements, or abnormal weight loss. Crohn’s disease (can affect anywhere in the intestines) and ulcerative colitis (can affect only the lining of the large intestine) are the two most common types of IBD.
Disease #4: Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is caused by an abnormal immune response that can damage your nervous system by attacking the protective coating of the nerve cells affecting the speed of message transmission between your brain and other body parts. It can cause pain, blindness, lack of coordination, weakness, and even muscle spasms.
Disease #5: Autoimmune Vasculitis
In some cases, your immune system can also attack the blood vessels obstructing the flow of blood in your body. Autoimmune vasculitis can affect any part of the body and cause health complications like pain in the abdomen, joints pain, fatigue, fever, rashes, ulcers, swelling, and shortness of breath.
Disease #6: Hashimoto’s Thyroid
Your overactive immune system can also affect the thyroid gland and destroy the cells that produce thyroid hormones resulting in hypothyroidism. The symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to cold, depression, and dry skin.
Disease #7: Lupus
Lupus is a condition in which the antibodies developed by the hyperactive immune system tend to strike the lungs, blood cells, nerves, and kidneys. The autoimmune antibodies developed in this condition attach themselves to the tissues and potentially affect the whole body.
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases?
Depending on the type of autoimmune illness, the symptoms vary from case to case. However, some of the common symptoms that you should be on the lookout for indicating the onset of an autoimmune condition include
- Muscle pain
- Extreme thirst
- Repetitive low-intensity fever
- Skin rashes and hair loss
- Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
- Swelling with redness
- Concentration issue
- Stomach ache
- Sudden and unusual weight loss
Diagnosis of autoimmune diseases
The early diagnosis of autoimmune diseases is important for correct treatment and to avoid any serious complications. Doctors recommend getting diagnosed with an antinuclear antibody test (ANA) which determines whether you have or do not have autoimmune diseases. A positive result means that your immune system has turned abnormal and harming other organs. However, the test does not exactly determine which disease has affected you and necessitates other tests like C- reactive protein (CRP), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test
Can treatment cure autoimmune diseases?
Embracing healthy changes in your lifestyle can control the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Since there are no permanent treatments available to cure the disease, the only remedy is with medication and improving your way of life. This includes healthy eating habits, exercises, yoga, and getting sound sleep.
Every autoimmune disease can be managed with the help of early diagnosis and by following a healthy lifestyle. All you need is a strong will and you can easily dominate the symptoms to lead a joyful and healthy life.
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