The main role of the immune system is to protect the body from diseases, infections and other invaders. An immune system consists of a network of organs, cells and tissues. The immune system can suffer from a condition as autoimmune diseases. These diseases occur as a result of mistakes that occur in the immune system where the immune system identifies healthy cells as invaders. As a result, the immune system turns against healthy cells within the body and attacks them. Auto immune diseases are widespread. In the US alone, the National Institute of Health places the number of people who have at least one auto immune disease at 24 million. The agency has about 24 auto immune ailments on this statistic, which is quite conservative.
Risks and Diagnosis
Though any person can develop auto immune conditions, studies show that certain factors predispose some people to these diseases more than others. For instance, women are more predisposed to auto immune disease than men while persons who come from families that have a history of these diseases are at a higher risk of developing them. Auto immune diseases also tend to be predominant in young adults and middle aged people and in terms of ethnicity, Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans are at a higher risk of developing auto immune diseases than Caucasians.
Bacterial or viral infections suffered by persons who are genetically predisposed to auto immune diseases increase the risk of developing the ailments in future. Due to their complexity, these diseases are among the most difficult immune system ailments to diagnose and treat. Auto immune diseases revolve around immune systems as wells as the antibodies that are generated by the systems. As such, diagnosis of these kind of diseases requires testing of specific auto-antibodies. Full blood counts can be ordered on patients to determine the levels of red and white blood cells. Where the immune system is fighting invasion, the level of white and red blood cells is different from ordinary levels.
The process of diagnosing auto immune diseases varies depending on the disease that is being checked. Some auto immune disorders can take years to diagnose as their symptoms are very similar to other diseases. For instance, diseases like celiac and lupus can easily be misdiagnosed in the early stages due to their similarity with other conditions. If you suspect that you have an auto immune disease, get a trial for your disease because these ailments have similar symptoms. Here are some of the most common auto immune diseases and their symptoms:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
This auto immune disease is a lasting inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract lining and the gut. Major symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps, nausea, constipation and diarrhea that has blood stains. It comes in two forms, the most common one is the Crohn’s disease. This is characterized by chronic inflammation that affects any part of the digestive system, from the mouth all the way to the end of the large intestine as well as the ulcerative colitis, a lasting large intestine inflammation. The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease are very similar to those of the celiac disease. However, this condition does not necessarily arise from feeding on foods that contain gluten.
This auto immune disease is largely associated with infections, environmental factors and stress. The condition leads to dry and itchy patches that make the skin on look like it has scales. It is also characterized by joint pains.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
This is among the common auto immune diseases that last for a life time. Rheumatoid Arthritis leads to immune system attacking body tissues, particularly in the hand and feet joints. The main symptoms of this ailment are stiff joints and swellings that are painful on the affected areas. Diagnosis of this rheumatoid arthritis is done through blood test, physical exam and x-ray. These tests are capable of determining the kind of arthritis a patient has as well as its severity.
- Diabetes Mellitus
This is type 1 diabetes, an auto immune disease that develops when the pancreas produces little or no insulin at all. This results in high sugar levels in the blood. Common signs of diabetes mellitus are increased thirst, hunger, energy loss, nausea, blurred vision and frequent urination.
- Grave’s Disease
This auto immune disease develops in the thyroid gland, causing it to produce high levels of thyroid hormone than the body requires. Some common symptoms of Grave’s disease include shaky hands, sweating, high blood pressure, loss of weight and anxiety. The disease is relatively easy to diagnose compared to other auto immune disease as patients are only subjected to a thyroid test.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
This condition is commonly referred to as Lupus. It is a combination of several conditions that are characterized by inflation of the joints, skin and in severe cases, inflammation of internal organs. Common symptoms of this auto immune disease include rash, fever, tiredness and pains on muscles and joints. While lupus is known to affect the way rheumatoid arthritis affects them, the pain is more severe in Lupus compared to that of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Hashimoto’s Disease
This auto immune condition is characterized by thyroid gland inflammation. With time, it leads to underproduction of thyroid hormone. The main symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease include tiredness, weight gain, joint stiffness, sensitivity to cold and depression. This auto immune disease is quite easy to diagnose because it is dependent on a thyroid test that shows the level of thyroid hormone.
This is an auto immune disease that is characterized with the loss of skin color, which may be presented in loss of color on large patches of skin. For persons who have darker skin, this skin discoloration gets highly pronounced.
- Addison’s Disease
This is an autoimmune disease that develops when the adrenal glands produce low levels of aldosterone and cortisol hormones than they ought to. When this disease occurs, it can cause patients to experience a wide range of symptoms including tiredness, low blood sugar, dizziness when one stand, low blood pressure, and loss of appetite. Persons with this condition may also experience dehydration, skin darkening and nausea.