Facts about Autoimmune disease

An autoimmune disease or disorder is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. It causes abnormally low activity or over activity of the immune system. In cases of immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages its own tissues. Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body's ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections.

Normally the immune system guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Also the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells.

Your body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system may begin producing antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attack the body's own tissues. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body.

Autoimmune disease can affect the whole body or only one organ, for example Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), affect the whole body.

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting a diagnosis can be frustrating and stressful. Often, the first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches and a low fever.

The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling. Examples of such diseases includes; Alopecia areata, Type 1 diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Inflammatory bowel disease, Addisons disease, Graves disease, Sjögrens syndrome, Hashimotos thyroiditis, Myasthenia gravis, Autoimmune vasculitis, Pernicious anemia, Celiac disease and many other. For more descriptions about these diseases CLICK HERE.

The following are symptoms and signs of autoimmune disease and most of them are similar;

1. Swelling and redness
2. Low-grade fever
3. Trouble concentrating
4. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
5. Fatigue
6. Achy muscles
7. Hair loss
9. Skin rashes
8. Individual diseases can also have their own unique symptoms. For example, type 1 diabetes causes extreme thirst, weight loss, and fatigue. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causes belly pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

No one is sure what causes autoimmune diseases, even Doctors dont know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire. Researchers suspect environmental factors like infections and exposure to chemicals or solvents might also be involved.

Certain autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and lupus, run in families. Not every family member will necessarily have the same disease, but they inherit a susceptibility to an autoimmune condition.

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition, the main treatment for autoimmune diseases is with medications that bring down inflammation and calm the overactive immune response. Treatments can also help relieve symptoms like pain, swelling, fatigue, and skin rashes.

These treatments can control the overactive immune response and bring down inflammation or at least reduce pain and inflammation. Drugs used to treat autoimmune condition include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen (Naprosyn) immune-suppressing drugs.

Eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise may also help you feel better.

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Posted by: Lusubilo A. Mwaijengo

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