Autoimmune diseases: When the body fights against itself

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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.

https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/autoimmune-diseases

http://autoimmune.pathology.jhmi.edu/aboutcenter.cfm

https://www.aarda.org/news-information/research/
https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/epstein-barr-virus-autoimmune-diseases

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