Up to 23.5 million people in the U.S. are living with an autoimmune disease, and according to the National Institutes of Health, the prevalence of these conditions is rising. More than 80 chronic conditions make up the family of autoimmune diseases, some of which are very rare. Others, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, are more common. Here is a guide to Autoimmune Diseases.
What Are Autoimmune Diseases?
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by an abnormal immune system response. Instead of fighting infections as they should, the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. This attack can happen anywhere in the body, and in some conditions, more than one area may be targeted. For instance, in type 1 diabetes, only the pancreas is affected. Yet, in systemic lupus erythematosus, symptoms are experienced throughout the whole body.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Experts haven’t yet pinpointed the reason why the immune system misfires. With that being said, studies suggest factors such as gender, race, and ethnicity contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing an autoimmune condition. For instance, women are twice as likely as men to be affected.
Currently, researchers are looking into how factors such as sunlight exposure, poverty, agricultural chemicals, mercury, nutrition, and genetics could play into the development of various autoimmune diseases.
What Are the Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases?
The immune system comprises various parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, thymus, tonsils and adenoids, appendix, bone marrow, and spleen. As such, the symptoms can be varied and far-reaching, especially when considering the dozens of different types of disorders. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, here are a few of the more common symptoms:
- Vision changes or impairment
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities
- Swelling and redness
What Are Some Common Autoimmune Diseases?
Because some of the symptoms of these disorders can mimic other conditions, patients may go years without receiving an official diagnosis. Some conditions require lifelong medication to control progression and symptoms. A few of the most common conditions include:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
While there are currently medications available to help patients manage these and other autoimmune conditions, many cannot be taken long-term, have serious side effects, and fail to produce desired results. Fortunately, other options are being investigated, including the use of regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy for autoimmune conditions, for instance. This alternative option is at the forefront of emerging treatments for autoimmune diseases, as these regenerative cells have the ability to reduce inflammation and repair areas that have already been damaged by the immune system response. Other options to find out the root cause of symptoms can be done through a Genova Diagnostic home comprehensive test provided by Stemedix. These tests can provide an extensive review of your current insufficiencies and deficiencies that will lead to the reasons of symptoms you may be experiencing. After reading this guide to Autoimmune Diseases if you would like more information, contact a Care Coordinator today!