Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. The result is that the body mistakenly believes that its own cells are a threat and begins to attack them. An autoimmune disorder can be both debilitating and chronic, which makes it challenging to manage, especially because many symptoms tend to come and go. In this article, you will learn about common autoimmune diseases as well as what you need to know about them.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus as it is more commonly known, is an autoimmune disease that causes tissues throughout the body to become inflamed. The disease is most frequently diagnosed in women, but men can also get it. Lupus is not curable, but it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. Symptoms of lupus include joint pain, fatigue, skin rashes, fevers, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, confusion and memory loss. Frequent blood tests are required to monitor the progression of the disease and to ensure that medications are properly prescribed. You can learn more about this condition, how it affects your body and what type of medication is taken to manage the condition here at Patient.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, especially the fingers and wrists. The disease most often affects people between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can occur at any age. Early symptoms of RA include joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, and headaches. As the disease progresses, it can cause joint deformity, skin sores, and difficulty with daily tasks like using utensils and typing. Depending on the severity of the disease, medications and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes red, scaly patches of skin to appear on areas of the body. Psoriasis is classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the size and severity of the patches. Mild psoriasis is characterized by small red patches on the scalp or knees. Moderate psoriasis is identified by plaques that are larger and more widespread. Severe psoriasis is seen as widespread red, scaly plaques with large, raised patches and peeling and thickening of the skin.
The protective sheath around the nerves in the brain and spinal cord is damaged in multiple sclerosis when the body attacks it. This damage results in the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) around the nerves. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include muscle weakness, spasms, extreme sensitivity to touch and noise, and blurred vision. While there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, medications can help control the disease and its symptoms.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the intestines. The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The symptoms of IBD can vary, but common signs and symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, blood in the stool, anal mucus, joint pain, and weight loss. In some cases, the disease can lead to more serious complications, such as bowel obstruction, abscesses, and colon cancer. Crohn’s and colitis have different symptoms, so diagnosis may be based on the symptoms that a person is experiencing. Treatments for IBD can include medication, surgery, or a combination of the two.
Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone that helps the body respond to stress and regulate blood sugar levels, as well as the hormones aldosterone and adrenaline. When the immune system attacks the adrenal glands, it can cause cortisol levels to drop to dangerously low levels. Symptoms of Addison’s disease can include fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, migraines, and low blood sugar. If left untreated, Addison’s can lead to serious complications, including organ damage. You should go for Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is found in foods such as wheat, rye, and barley. The symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, weight loss, and anaemia. The two ways to diagnose celiac disease are a blood test or a biopsy of the small intestine. Once the disease has been diagnosed, a doctor will help the patient create a diet plan to reduce the symptoms by avoiding foods that contain gluten.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin, the hormone that gets glucose into the cells. In the early stages of the disease, type 1 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to the flu. The disease is most often diagnosed in children and young adults. Early symptoms of type 1 diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, weight loss, and blurred vision. If left untreated, type 1 diabetes can lead to serious complications, including kidney failure and heart disease. Early diagnosis is key so that the disease can be treated with regular insulin injections.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. The immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to become overactive and produce excess amounts of hormones. This can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, insomnia, and muscle weakness. Graves’ disease can occur at any age, but it is more common in adults.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, slowing down the production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism, so when it is improperly functioning, a person can experience weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, and hair loss. While there is no cure for Hashimoto’s, symptoms can be managed with medication, diet changes, and exercise.
Autoimmune vasculitis is an autoimmune disease that causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and damaged, which leads to the narrowing of arteries and veins, resulting in a decreased blood flow. Symptoms of vasculitis include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever. There is no cure for vasculitis, but symptoms can be managed and treated with medication.
Pernicious anaemia is a form of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia which causes a deficiency in the protein intrinsic factor. This protein is pivotal for absorbing vitamin B12 in the small intestine. It results in decreased amounts of vitamin B12 in the body. People with pernicious anaemia usually experience symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, impaired sense of smell, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, bleeding gums, and confusion. Pernicious anaemia can be treated with injections of vitamin B12 or by taking vitamin B12 supplements by mouth.
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that causes weakness in muscles. The immune system mistakenly attacks the nerve impulses that are necessary for muscle function. As a result, muscles become weak and fatigued easily. Myasthenia gravis is typically treated with a medication called Pyridostigmine, which helps the signals from the brain travel between the nerves and muscles to alleviate symptoms of muscle weakness.
Having an autoimmune disease can be challenging. These disorders affect every part of your life and can be difficult to manage. With the right combination of treatments and lifestyle changes, though, you can manage your disease so that it does not control your life. Autoimmune diseases are a growing health concern, as many people are living with an autoimmune disorder and don’t even know it. The key to managing an autoimmune disease is getting diagnosed and then following your doctor’s treatment plan, which may include medications and lifestyle changes.