What are autoimmune diseases or disorders?
They are a type of disorders in which the immune system attacks its own organs or tissues.
This is produced by a wrong answer of the inmume system thinking that proper parts of the human body are foreign elements that have invaded it. The body does not recognize itself and undermines its own cells.
Autoimmune diseases can determine the target organ not to function properly either because its tissues are destroyed or injured or because an abnormal growth takes place.
Among the major tissues which can suffer this attack are the following: muscle, skin, joints, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage, endocrine glands, and so on.
Autoimmune diseases are generally chronic. Although many of their symptoms can be controlled, they generally diminish the quality of life of people who have them. Many patients are unhappy when they see their problems are not solved so that, ultimately, they may be affected by depressive symptoms.
Main autoimmune disorders
Among the major autoimmune disorders, we can include the following:
- Pernicious anemia: It is a type of anemia that occurs because the body lacks the necessary element to produce the absorption of vitamin B12 or cobalamin. The component that allows you to absorb this vitamin is called "intrinsic factor", a protein produced by the cells of the stomach. Problems can be caused either by atrophy of the gastric mucosa or because of autoimmune response against the gastric cells or against the intrinsic factor itself.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic disease in which there is inflammation of small joints of the extremities, also affecting other organs, bones, tendons, etc. The exact cause is unknown but, because a false response, the immune system attacks the body's own cells.
- Multiple sclerosis: A degenerative autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterized by the blockage or retention of nerve impulses, with the consequent loss of many bodily functions. (Loss of speech, inability to walk, memory loss, urinary incontinence, etc)
- Celiac disease: A disease characterized by chronic intestinal malabsorption of gluten, which, when it comes into contact with the intestines, it produces an inflammatory reaction, injuring it. People with this condition have a poor absorption of nutrients that affects their overall health.
- Diabetes Type I: (Insulin-dependent diabetes or diabetes mellitus) It is a disease mainly affecting youths and infants with a rapid evolution. Characterized by insulin deficiency in the blood, it is caused by an alteration in the pancreas that produces too little insulin. Possible causes of error include an immune system error. The body mistakenly attacks the cells that produce insulin.
- Crohn's Disease: It causes chronic inflammation of the intestine with the appearance of continuous or frequent intermittent episodes of diarrhea, alternating with possible periods of constipation. Inflammation, which may appear anywhere in the digestive tract, tends to focus on the junction between the small intestine and the large intestine, an area known as ileus. The exact causes are not known, although the possibility exists that the body itself, stimulated by a virus or bacterium, may attack the patient's own intestine.
Other conditions include:
- Lupus erythematosus: An autoimmune disease that attacks the skin, joints, kidneys and other organs of the body. It may manifest as fever, fatigue, skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, headache, respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, sore fingers to cold, and so on.
- Reactive arthritis: The body reacts against the body's joints, urethra, urinary tract and eyes. The main articular symptoms are: lumbago, hip pain, ankle pain, knee pain, Achilles tendon pain, heel pain.
Among the major genital symptoms are: pain in the penis, urinary incontinence, difficulty starting urination, painful urination, urinary urgency, swelling or redness of the genitals, male genital sores, painful small ulcers in the glans, ulcers in the mouth or tongue.
The most characteristic symptoms of the eyes are sore eyes, red eyes, eye secretions.
Skin lesions on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands similar to those produced by psoriasis are not rare.
- Myasthenia gravis: It causes problems in the voluntary muscles, producing many symptoms in The involved muscles, such as: paralysis of the facial muscles, general fatigue, difficulty swallowing or chewing, difficulty speaking, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, double vision, drooping eyelids, and so on.
- Graves' disease: The thyroid produces too much hormone. It is the main cause of hyperthyroidism.
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis: It causes inflammation of the thyroid gland and, consequently, lower production of thyroid hormones. It is a cause of hypothyroidism
- Addison's disease: The organism can attack the outside part or cortex of the adrenal glands that produce fewer hormones. Among the most characteristic symptoms are: weight loss, lost of appetite, body weakness, fatigue, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, general pallor or dark patches in some parts of the skin, arrhythmias, blood pressure changes, desire eating salty foods, etc.
- Dermatomyositis: It causes inflammation and skin bright red eruptions. It can also cause breathing problems, pain and muscle weakness, change in color of the upper eyelids that turn dark red or purple
Why do autoimmune diseases or disorders take place?
These disorders occur because the immune system is unable to recognize the body's own cells. Normally, the white blood cells recognize the foreign elements, called antigens.
The antigens may be diverse: microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses, toxins from food, air, environment, drugs, etc.; body's own cancer cells, another person's blood, tissues from another person or another sort, etc.
The problem occurs when the body recognizes as not familiar the body tissues themselves reacting as if they were strange or harmful.
No one knows exactly why there is this kind of reaction, although there are theories that suggest that it might be caused by bacteria or drugs, especially to those people who, genetically, are predisposed to such changes.
It is being said a lot about the role of excessive medication in the increase in immune disorders. In particular, it is highlighted the inappropriate use of antibiotics as one of the main causes of weakening our defenses.
Providing too many antibiotics can lead to our immune system to be too much relaxed and not prepared to defend us when there is a serious invasion. Moreover, we must not forget that the microorganisms themselves are resistant to many antibiotics so their use can be not effective. This would explain how many diseases, that were once easily cured by applying this type of medicine, do not improve in these days.
Similarly, some experts disagree with the use of vaccines. Many believe that there are not effective, others think that they might be even responsible for the onset of certain disorders of immunity.
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases
The symptoms of these disorder are varied and depend on the affected organ, as seen above. In general, we could say that they all have certain common symptoms, including mild fever, malaise, fatigue and dizziness.
Diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disorders or diseases
The diagnosis of autoimmune disorders is performed by a examination by the physician who may focus on some particular symptoms of each type of disease.
In addition to this medical examination, you may need other tests such as blood tests which will fundamentally evaluate the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). With them, you will be checked for levels of inflammation in your body.
Most of these diseases are chronic. Conventional treatment of autoimmune disorders is based primarily on drugs to reduce symptoms. You can also be prescribed with medications that lower your immune response (immunosuppressants), hormones, vitamins, etc.
Natural treatment of autoimmune diseases or disorders
The natural treatment of autoimmune disorders is based on using a number of resources that can boost your natural defenses.
They can be considered as an alternative treatment or some help to conventional medicine medications. To increase your defenses you can also use a proper diet, herbal remedies and a series of very interesting life strategies.
More information about boosting your immune system in the listing above.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.