Autoimmune Diseases – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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The immune system of our body is a collection of cells, tissues, and molecules that work together to protect the body against any attack from foreign bodies like bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system fails and starts producing antibodies that react against some of the body’s own tissues. This can have a lot of effects on the body and can even prove to be fatal in many cases. It is said to be the 3rd most common disease in the USA. It is said to affect one in thirty-one Americans.

An autoimmune process can destroy a particular type of cell or tissue, can cause an organ to grow excessively, and can even affect the organs’ functionality. The endocrine glands are mostly affected by this kind of disease. The generally affected areas include are the red blood cells, adrenal glands, thyroid, pancreas, connecting tissues, and many skin and muscle joints. Women are more susceptible to auto-immune diseases than men. The reason for this is yet to be discovered by researchers.

One of the main reasons for this could be that women have great immunity when compared to men for all kinds of diseases. So this makes them more prone to auto-immune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases can be classified into 2 types:

Type1: Non-organ Specific.

Type 2: Organ-specific.

The first type of disease can be spread throughout the entire body. Some of the non-organ-specific disorders are myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The second type is specific to a particular organ of the body. Some of the organ-specific disorders are chronic hepatitis – a disease that affects the liver, Addison’s disease affecting the adrenal glands, pernicious anemia which affects the stomach, diabetes (insulin-dependent) affecting the pancreas and Hashimoto’s disease that affects the thyroid glands.

Researchers believe that many factors can be attributed as the cause of autoimmune diseases. Drugs, pollution, certain types of viruses, heredity are some of the attributed causes. Many doctors also believe that close marriages or marrying family members is also a major factor for autoimmune diseases.

Doctors conduct various tests like checking your blood samples, radiological studies, etc to diagnose if you have an autoimmune disease. Their symptoms accompanied by the autoimmune disease are specific to each disease and widely vary. The general symptoms are fever, low-grade infections, fatigue, dizziness, and loss of appetite.

Most autoimmune diseases are given treatment according to the symptoms. Doctors prescribe corticosteroid drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some very powerful immunosuppressant drugs like cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, and methotrexate that suppresses the response of the immune system and thereby the progression of the autoimmune disease.

There is no best remedy other than self-care. If one takes proper care of themselves without leading an unhealthy life these diseases can be prevented. Doctors recommend a diet highly rich in vitamins and minerals can help reduce the effects of the autoimmune disease.