Autoimmune Diseases - Symptoms & Treatments
If you have chronic illness, with a growing number of symptoms, conditions, doctor visits and medications, chances are you may have an Autoimmune disease.
Don’t Despair. Most autoimmune conditions are able to be resolved when the proper efforts are made to detect the underlying triggers. Remove the root causes, properly support the dysfunctions and the body will heal. It takes some real detective work and attention to detail by way of a comprehensive review of medical records, specialized testing, thoroughness with nutrition and lifestyle habits to get to the bottom of things.
What is an autoimmune disease or disorder?
Autoimmune diseases are disorders in which your immune system attacks part of your own body. They can also refer to disorders in which the immune system is abnormally weak and unable to fight off foreign elements.
In the first case the immune system produces antibodies that attack your body’s tissues or organs. In the second case the immune system is unable to fight off attacks and your body requires extra help.Standard treatment for autoimmune disease is to weaken the immune system’s response with corticosteroids like Prednisone.
This is a short-sighted approach with potentially detrimental long term consequences. It is quick and easy but at what expense? The expense of your health for the long term?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Lupus or SLE disease is a common and classic autoimmunity and can manifest in many different parts of the body including lungs, joints, nerves, blood cells and kidneys. Since it can attack different parts of the body, symptoms will vary depending on what is affected. Some may develop a lupus rash on the weeks and nose known as butterfly rash whereas others may develop other symptoms. Discoid lupus or Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is another autoimmune disease that affects skin with thick scaly rashes in the shape of discs.
Most common symptoms generally include:
- Joint pain & swelling
- Hair loss
- Butterfly rash
- Blood clotting issues
- Fingers turning colors in cold (Raynaud’s)
- Digestive tract problems
- Heart problems
- Skin problems
Because lupus can affect so many different areas of the body it is difficult to diagnose. A lupus prognosis will include gathering information. Keep track of symptoms and dates in order to give your healthcare provider a detailed story of your condition to diagnose lupus correctly.
From a traditional medical view there are no exact causes but several factors that are linked to lupus such as sex, hormones, genetics and environmental triggers. Lupus affects females more than males and women may develop more severe symptoms during pregnancy and menstruation. This leads to the thought that estrogen may contribute to lupus but there is not enough proof in current research.
Although lupus isn’t congenital, it can occur in those who have family members with other autoimmune diseases. Environmental causes may include:
- Viral attacks
- UV rays
- Stress (both emotional or physical)
Inform your provider of any rashes, sensitivity, changes in skin, hair or joints. Keep a record of any new pains or irregular sores as well as irregular heartbeat or murmurs.
Since traditional medicine has not produced a cure, the standard treatment is to ease the symptoms associated with your specific case. This typically includes Corticosteroids for internal symptoms and steroid creams for rashes or external symptoms.
Over time, if left untreated, lupus can develop serious complications such as:
- Heart attack
- Heart inflammation
- Blood clots or vasculitis
- Memory issues
- Behavioral issues
- Kidney inflammation
- Inflammation of lung
- Kidney failure
- Pregnancy issues or miscarriage
Our approach to SLE or Lupus
Our support targets the underlying issues associated with the disease. Rather than just treating symptoms. The sooner you begin addressing the root causes the better. Through the testing of multiple systems, not only blood, we can determine how to tailor support for your specific needs. This usually incorporates tried and proven nutritional strategies and will likely involve supplements that can help calm and down regulate your immune system, eliminate or reduce inflammation and support deficient or dysfunctional organ systems to restore proper function again. One important factor with any autoimmune disease is to maintain a positive mental attitude and reduce stress.
Other Common Autoimmune Diseases
The linings of joints are attacked which cause inflammation and pain in the joints. It can gradually cause permanent damage if untreated.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD
The lining of the intestines is attacked which causes diarrhea, real bleeding and urgent bowel movements as well as abdominal pain and weight loss. The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
The immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas requiring insulin injections in order to survive.
Multiple Sclerosis or MS
Nerve cells are attacked which causes pain, blindness, weakness, muscle spasms and bad coordination.
The nerves controlling muscles are attacked in the legs and may also attack the arms and upper body. The result is weakness and sometimes severe weakness.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
Nerves are attacked which control the legs and arms like Guillain-Barré but the symptoms are much longer lasting and can result in wheelchair confinement.
The immune system’s blood cells, T-cells, have their life-cycle sped up which causes them to build up on the surface of the skin. This causes scales and red patches that itch and can be painful.
The immune system attacks the thyroid which causes low levels of thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism.
The immune system stimulates the overproduction of thyroid hormone or hyperthyroidism. This can cause bulging eyes and weight loss as well as rapid heart rate and brittle hair.
Blood vessels are attacked and can affect any organ. This causes inflammation of the blood vessels and results in thickening, weakening, narrowing or scarring which can result in lower blood flow and organ or tissue damage.
The autoimmune system breaks down the communication between nerves and muscles which results in weakness. Generally increased use of the muscle affected worsens symptoms.
Autoimmune Disease Treatment
The best way to treat any autoimmune disease is by working to try and treat the immune system itself by detoxifying and cleansing the body and supporting it in normal function. Although this is not a complete list of autoimmune diseases, most of these diseases can be related to external factors that have somehow damaged or confused the immune system. Your healthcare provider can work with you on a proper regimen to treat the underlying issue naturally rather than live with lifelong chronic illness and synthetic medications which can alter your body’s chemical balance.
If you do not see your autoimmune disease listed above, it does not mean it cannot be treated, there is hope for a brighter future!
Autoimmune Disease List
Here is an exhaustive list of autoimmune diseases with links to information about them.