Autoimmune Disease

What is autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune disease is an umbrella term to cover a wide range of diseases where a person’s own immune system begins attacking the body’s healthy cells. An autoimmune disease is a condition arising from an abnormal immune response to a functioning body part. There are at least 80 types of autoimmune diseases.[]. Not much is known about why this happens or what really causes it. What is known about these diseases is that certain ones can run in families while others are triggered by environmental factors. Doctors continually study these diseases to discover more about what causes them and how best to treat them.

What are the common symptoms?

The early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases are very similar, such as:


achy muscles

swelling and redness

low-grade fever

trouble concentrating

numbness and tingling in the hands and feet

hair loss

skin rashes

Other symptoms are specifically individual to the autoimmune disease. Symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, swelling, and redness could be signs of an autoimmune disease. Symptoms might come and go over time.[]

How are they diagnosed?

Blood tests run by your doctor can check for antinuclear antibodies. A positive test is not definitive but suggests that you may have one. Depending on those results your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further testing.

How are they treated?

There is no cure for autoimmune diseases but the symptoms can be treated with medications, exercise and lifestyle changes. Medications to help with pain and inflammation, such as non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs like Advil and Motrin. Immune suppressing medication can also help by controlling the overactive immune response. One caution with these would be that your immune system will be weakened so you have to take extra precautions to avoid becoming ill. Lifestyle changes like eating a healthy balanced diet and getting regular exercise helps you keep your body moving and moods stable.

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