If there is one condition that is very confusing, contradicting and posing several challenges to the medical fraternity worldwide in recent years, it is Autoimmune Disease.
Autoimmune Disease or disorder is perhaps the only widely used medical term while diagnosing several acute health conditions today, especially if medical experts fail to pin down on the exact cause.
However, this condition should not be confused with autoimmunity in which body produces antibodies to clear the toxins after suffering from an infection.
In this article, learn more about autoimmune disease, its triggering factors and those conditions that are categorized under autoimmune diseases.
What Is Autoimmune Disease?
It is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body, by releasing antibodies that attack healthy cells and body parts. An overactive immune system fails to differentiate between normal cells and foreign cells, mistaking body parts in the body to be foreign invaders.
While few autoimmune conditions attack one body part, other ailments like lupus target the entire body.
Why Does Your Immune System Attack?
Doctors and researchers till date couldn’t find the answer on why immune system backlashes the body. Women are more prone to autoimmune diseases than men, while certain ethnic groups like African-American, Hispanics find it more often in their genes.
While few autoimmune conditions run in the family, it need not be necessarily inherited. Doctors till date have discovered over 80 autoimmune diseases of which 14 are quite common and organ-specific.
Common Types of Autoimmune Diseases:
Type 1 Diabetes
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Why Diagnosis Is Tough:
The symptoms of an autoimmune disorder mimic regular signs like fatigue, low-grade fever, hair loss, skin rash, swelling, lack of focus. Few symptoms in the cases of psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis come and go. The time when no symptoms are found is called a remission period.
Doctors order antibody nuclear test (ANA) as a first step while diagnosing an autoimmune disorder. If the test is positive, it most likely means that you are suffering from one of the above disorders. A thorough analysis of symptoms and other tests may help the expert in a better diagnosis. Other blood tests include C-Active protein, comprehensive metabolic panel, rheumatoid factor, thyroid peroxidase antibodies test will help your doctor in diagnosing, organ-specific symptoms.
What Are The Triggers?
Doctors and researchers have failed to list down specific triggers that would lead to autoimmune disorders. Few studies reveal that infectious diseases caused due to specific microorganisms like group A Streptococcus, environmental factors like lack of vitamin D, too much exposure to chemicals, poor lifestyle and dietary habits, gut bacteria and genetics are to be blamed upon.
Interestingly, living in a very sterile environment – like living in cleaner places, not in being contact to pets, lack of exposure to dust mite, animal dander are causes behind an overactive immune system.
Is Autoimmune Disease Treatable?
Unfortunately, it cannot be cured completely. However, medicines are available to control the overactive immune response and to provide symptomatic relief from swelling, pain, fatigue and rashes. Eating a healthy diet, exercise, sound sleep pattern, avoiding stress and most importantly knowing the triggers would keep autoimmune disorders at a bay.