When the body’s immune system starts to attack itself, disorder erupts. There are up to 80,000 different autoimmune disorders ranging in severity. The immune system falls on a spectrum of very low functioning to being overly active. When the immune system is deficient, the body is unable to protect itself to ward off infections. When the immune system is hyperactive, the body starts to attack and damage its very own tissues. The immune system is meant to fight off infections, but with an autoimmune condition, the body starts to produce antibodies.
Doctors don’t exactly know the root cause of autoimmune disease. The most common symptoms include fatigue, achy muscles, hair loss, and skin rashes. Flare ups decide when they want to occur. Women do acquire this condition 2 to 1 compared to men. The disease usually begins in childhood and teenage years. Many types run in families such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. Researchers believe environmental factors may be the culprit since the rate of these diseases are on the rise. Eating high fat, high sugar, and processed foods also wreaks havoc on the immune system.
Some of these conditions are more common than others or terms you have heard of before. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body produces antibodies that attack the joints. This causes pain, inflammation, and swelling to the areas of the joint. Multiple sclerosis is when the immune system attacks the nerve cells. Muscle spasms are a common symptom. Inflammatory bowl syndrome (IBS) occurs when the immune system starts to attack the lining of the intestine. As a result, bowel movements can become uncontrollable, diarrhea can occur, as well as rectal bleeding. Type I diabetes is also an autoimmune condition that occurs when antibodies attack the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Thyroid diseases are also in the autoimmune class. Grave’s disease, also known as hyperthyroidism, is when the antibodies produce excess amount of the thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s has the opposite effect, taking place when the antibodies destroy the cells that produce the thyroid hormone. Lupus is when the antibodies attack different tissues in the body such as the lungs, joints, and kidneys.
Many of the symptoms overlap so diagnosis can be difficult as well as treatment. Blood testing is the most informative tool. The idea is to suppress the overactive immune system. Living with an autoimmune condition can be debilitating so practice self-care, and do all that you can to keep yourself in the best health possible at all times.