January 22, 2022

A Basic Overview of Autoimmune Diseases

Specialty Infusion Blog Jess

Understanding autoimmune diseases

The immune system is built to protect a person from pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and foreign particles. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s natural defense can’t differentiate between the body’s own cells and foreign cells. The body attacks the normal cells by mistake. More than 100 types of autoimmune diseases affect different body parts. Diagnosis of autoimmune diseases is challenging due to early symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, digestive issues, etc. The conditions due to autoimmune diseases vary from person to person: some experience temporary circumstances, while others have lifelong conditions. Autoimmune diseases tend to lead to severe infections, diseases, and even death. Usually, autoimmune diseases do not go away, but the patient can manage the symptoms.

Autoimmune response

Autoimmune response may be generated due to several reasons in different ways. An autoimmune reaction may occur when a foreign particle looks similar to the body’s own cells. It can also be created by the modification of the normal body cells; for instance, if a virus modifies the normal cell of the body, the immune system cannot recognize the normal cell. The immune system considers it a foreign particle, such as a virus, and attacks.

Sometimes, b cell lymphocytes, the immune cells, make antibodies start producing abnormal antibodies. They eventually attack the body’s normal cells. These are various reasons that may initiate an autoimmune response.

Let’s explore more about autoimmune diseases.

Types of autoimmune diseases

  • Organ-specific autoimmune diseases

Single or multiple organs can be affected by autoimmune diseases. Some organ-specific autoimmune diseases are:

  • Psoriasis

In psoriasis, skin cells rapidly grow by the stimulation of the immune system activity. Scaly and silvery plaques grow on the skin, which is known as plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis treatment is based on the severity of the condition and its type.

  • Multiple Sclerosis

In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), nerve cells are attacked by the immune system and do not let the nerve work properly. A patient with MS may experience blindness, pain, muscle spasms, weakness, and poor coordination. It leads to severe numbness and tingling, and many other symptoms. MS can be treated by medication that can help in suppressing the immune system.

  • Systemic autoimmune diseases

Some systemic autoimmune diseases include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system generates antibodies that link to the linings of joints. Joints will be attacked by the immune system and lead to severe swelling, pain, and inflammation. The joint damage can last permanently if left untreated. Therefore, it is necessary to treat RA on time with the help of injectable or oral medications to limit the over-activity of the immune system.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

In inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the lining of the intestines is attacked by the immune system, which leads to severe rectal bleeding, episodes of diarrhea, emergency bowel movements, fever, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most significant forms of inflammatory bowel disease. IBD can be treated by injected and oral immune-suppressing medication.

Causes

Many factors are associated with autoimmune diseases, but the exact cause of autoimmune diseases is still unknown. Assessed causes of autoimmune diseases are:

  • Lifestyle and environmental factors

Lifestyle and environmental factors are associated with and cause various kinds of autoimmune diseases. People who are highly exposed to antigens are more inclined to have overactive immune responses. Lack of vitamin D, higher exposure to chemicals, lack of sunlight, and many other factors lead to different sorts of autoimmune diseases.

Lifestyle has a significant role in increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases. People who smoke are more vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis. An unhealthy diet high in sugar, protein, fat, and salt enhances the chance of autoimmune diseases. All of these factors add up in boosting autoimmune diseases.

  • Inheritance

Autoimmune diseases have the tendency to run in generations and are inherited from parents and ancestors. Mutation in a single gene can cause autoimmune diseases.

  • Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases are one of the reasons for autoimmune diseases. When pathogenic components look similar to the proteins in the body, autoimmunity may happen. The immune system gets confused by the body’s own cells and any outside cells of the body.

Symptoms

Different organs can be affected by autoimmune diseases, and their symptoms vary. The most common symptoms of autoimmune diseases include fatigue, weight changes, fever, muscle spasms, rashes on the skin, inflammation, dizziness, and digestive problems. These are the general symptoms that appear when a person is affected by autoimmune diseases. Some autoimmune diseases like MS may display numbness and tingling as indications of infection.

How to treat autoimmune diseases?

Each particular disease with a specific organ affected has its own treatment. Sometimes, immune-suppressing medications are supposed to be the best treatment for autoimmune diseases. Many conditions get severe if left untreated, like rheumatoid arthritis. The time of the course of treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Usually, there is a need to manage symptoms, or control inflammation with the help of medication such as corticosteroids or biological drugs. For severe joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis, there is a need to handle symptoms. Doctors usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to relieve joint pain.

Complications need to be prevented, such as blood sugar should be controlled in patients experiencing type 1 diabetes. It is how patients can reduce complications. Also, a healthy lifestyle needs to be maintained in order to treat autoimmune diseases.

How to cope with autoimmune diseases

  • Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is crucial to beat autoimmune diseases. One should try to have at least 8 hours of sleep and relax the mind. Stress makes a person more inclined to health issues. Thus, stress management is needed to cope with autoimmune diseases. Exercise can help to lower stress and anxiety. It makes a person more vulnerable to live a physically and mentally healthy life and deal with autoimmune diseases.

  • Healthy diet

Diet plays a significant role. It can help in reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases, especially for diabetic patients. They need a regular check on their diet. Patients with autoimmune diseases should try to promote healthy gut bacteria.

  • Know your triggers

Different diseases have some triggers in which food or other factors may play a role. A person with any specific autoimmune disease should know his catalysts and try to lessen the exposure to those triggers.

At Speciality Infusion Centers, we specialize in managing chronic conditions and work with you, your insurance carrier, and your doctor to provide a personalized treatment plan. Find the most convenient location for starting infusion therapy today.

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