An autoimmune disease is a condition where your immune system mistakes the cells in your body for foreign ones and attacks them. Normally, the immune system is meant to guard against foreign cells, viruses, and bacteria. When the immune system senses that the body had been infiltrated by these foreign cells, it attacks them with an army of defense cells whose job is to get rid of the foreign cells.
Under normal circumstances, the immune system is equipped to differentiate between normal cells and foreign cells. However, in the case of an autoimmune disease, the immune system’s ability to distinguish between cells is impaired, which leads it to then attacking certain parts of the body that it mistakes to be foreign.
In this situation, it releases ‘autoantibodies’ to fight these body cells.
In some cases, it only attacks one organ; for example, Type 1 diabetes attacks the pancreas, while in other cases, the autoantibodies affect the workings of the whole body, for instance, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
Unfortunately, there is no known cause for autoimmune diseases. However, research has shown that some people are more likely to get an autoimmune disease than others.
There are over 80 kinds of autoimmune diseases, but the most common ones are listed as follows:
In this instance, the pancreas is attacked and destroyed by the immune system, which affects the body’s ability to produce the hormone insulin, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, causing diabetes.
In this instance, the part of the body affected is the joints. The immune system attacks the joints, causing soreness, redness, warmth, and stiffness. The difference between this condition and osteoarthritis is that age is not a cause of Rheumatoid arthritis.
The disease can start as early as your 30s or sooner.
The skin usually grows and sheds some of its cells when they are no longer needed or working. However, the immune system causes too many cells to build up too quickly. The excess cells then build up to form inflamed, red patches on the skin.
In addition to the skin inflammation, about 30% of people suffering from Psoriasis arthritis also develop swelling, stiffness, and pain in their joints.
The myelin sheath is a protective coating that surrounds nerve cells in the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin sheath, thereby slowing the transmission of messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
This causes symptoms like numbness, balance issues, mobility problems, and weakness. This particular disease comes in different forms, and each state progresses at a different rate.
Doctors first described lupus in the early 1800s to be a skin disease. However, recent developments have shown that “systemic lupus,” which is quite common, targets the organs, for example, kidneys, heart, brain, and joints.
Its symptoms are fatigue, rashes, and joint pain.
Generally, as stated earlier, autoimmune disease is caused when the body’s immune system attacks the body cells or organs, mistaking them to be foreign invaders. However, what causes this?
There are several underlying causes that are thought to contribute to autoimmune disease. These underlying causes include food sensitivities, chronic infections, mold and environmental toxins, and heavy metals. The challenging part is trying to figure out which underlying cause is contributing to each individual’s disease.
It depends. If your healthcare provider can figure out the underlying cause and that issue is addressed, sometimes the disease and the symptoms associated with the disease can improve and sometimes completely resolve.
The use of immune modulating therapies, like Low Dose Naltrexone, may also be beneficial.
Many autoimmune diseases have similar early symptoms, which are listed are follows:
Managing autoimmune diseases is not just about taking your prescribed drugs. It is also about making the right and healthy choices when it comes to your lifestyle.
A proper diet goes a long way in easing the symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Most autoimmune diseases have been shown to have a response to changes in your diet. An elimination diet off of gluten and dairy has helped many of our patients. Sometimes, more advanced diets like an autoimmune paleo diet is necessary.
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and want to try to get to the underlying root cause give one of the providers/medical detectives at Robinhood Integrative Health a chance. We have a tremendous success record with our patients and minimizing and sometimes eliminating symptoms altogether.