WHAT IS AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?
WHAT CAUSES AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?
COMMON AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
- Type 1 diabetes: In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and kills insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin plays an important role in regulating blood sugar. Blood sugar issues can lead to all kinds of problems, including weight, heart, kidney, and nerve issues.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Osteoarthritis tends to affect the older generation, however, RA can start at a young age, even in your 30s. As the immune system attacks the joints, RA leads to stiffness, pain, soreness, warmth, and redness.
- Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis: Psoriasis an autoimmune condition that affects the growth of skin cells, speeding it up, leading to red, scaly patches and skin plaque. In 30 percent of people, it can also lead to psoriatic arthritis that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): MS damages the protective coating around nerve cells, called the myelin sheath that interrupts the messages between the brain and the body. This disease leads to numbness, weakness, balance problems, and trouble walking.
- Lupus: Lupus affects the entire body, including the joints, kidneys, heart, and brain. It can lead to pain, rashes, and fatigue.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD is the inflammation of the intestinal lining. Two common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease. causing inflammation at any part of the GI tract, and ulcerative colitis, affecting the large intestine and rectum.
- Addison’s diseases: Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands, leading to hormonal problems, low blood sugar, fatigue, weight loss, and weakness.
- Graves’ disease: Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. As the thyroid produces too many hormones, weight loss, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and heat intolerance arise.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Hashimoto’s also affects the thyroid gland, but leads to slow hormone production, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, hair loss, and goiter.
- Sjögren’s syndrome: Sjögren’s syndrome affects the joints and the lubrication of the mouth and eyes.
- Myasthenia gravis: Myasthenia gravis affects the nerves in the brain that control your muscles, leading to muscle weakness, fatigue, swallowing problems, and issues with facial movement.
- Vasculitis: Vasculitis affects the blood vessels, allowing less blood flow.
- Pernicious anemia: Pernicious anemia affects the intrinsic factor, a protein that helps B12 absorption, leading to low red blood cell count. This is more common among older people.
- Celiac disease: When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system attacks its intestines, causing inflammation. People with celiac must avoid gluten completely. This is not to be confused with gluten allergy or sensitivity.
SYMPTOMS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
- Achy muscles
- Swelling and redness
- Hair loss
- Tingling and numbness in feet and hands
- Trouble concentrating
- Low-grade fever
- Skin Rashes
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you experience any of these conditions, you need to visit a doctor. You will likely need a specialist. Gastroenterologists treat celiac and IBD. Endocrinologists work with patients of Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s and Addison’s disease. Dermatologists can address psoriasis. Rheumatologist’s help patients with RA. Your general practitioner can direct you to the best specialist that can diagnose and treat your specific condition. (14, 17, 18)
DIAGNOSIS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
TREATMENT OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
There is no cure for autoimmune diseases. Treatment can control the overactive immune response, lower inflammation, reduce symptoms, and in some cases, lead to remission.