What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Normally, the immune system protects us against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. It sends out an army of fighter cells to attack these foreign invaders when it detects them. When your body’s natural defense system can’t detect the difference between your cells and foreign cells, it attacks normal cells, creating autoimmune disease.

There are about 80 different types of autoimmune disorders that affect different regions of the body. According to doctor Ana-Maria Orbai, M.D., M.H.S, “There are different degrees of autoimmune disease. The symptoms a person gets likely relate to multiple factors that include genetics, environment and personal health.”

Source: Rehealthify/Youtube

Even though there are many different types of autoimmune conditions, many of them share the same symptoms. The following are some of the most common early autoimmune disease symptoms to look out for:

1. Fatigue

While it’s normal to feel tired now and then, fatigue can be characterized as an overwhelming lack of energy that is not relieved even after sleeping an adequate amount every day. Many individuals who suffer from autoimmune diseases can often experience an overwhelming sense of fatigue that can even feel paralyzing at times. This extreme fatigue can negatively impact energy levels, mood, and productivity in day-to-day life. To combat this as best as possible, it’s important to get plenty of sleep—at least seven to eight hours each night. Adopting healthy sleep habits can help prevent fatigue as much as possible.

2. Skin problems

Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of your body, including your skin. Since skin is so visible, people often notice this symptom first. Autoimmune skin diseases can show in various ways, including rashes, blisters, lesions, and
scaly patches, says the University of Utah. Cutaneous lupus—also called skin lupus—is an autoimmune skin condition where the immune system attacks healthy skin cells and damages the skin. Other autoimmune skin diseases include Behcet’s Disease, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and Dermatomyositis, to name a few. Although there is no known cure for autoimmune skin diseases, they can be managed with the help of dermatologists who specialize in autoimmune skin diseases.

3. Gastrointestinal Problems

For some people with autoimmune diseases, a common symptom is gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux and heartburn. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can also cause digestive conditions such as ulcerative colitis and pancreatitis, says active beat. Many people with lupus also commonly experience abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. These gastrointestinal symptoms can be managed with antacids, reducing meal sizes, and avoiding caffeinated drinks.

4. Recurring fever

Recurrent, unexplained fevers are a common symptom of autoimmune diseases. Symptoms seem to come and go. People with auto-inflammatory conditions feel they spontaneously develop symptoms, which then spontaneously vanish, says Dr. Brown.

5. Swollen glands

Swelling of the parotid glands, which are located in front of and below the ears, is a symptom common in autoimmune diseases. A small number of people with Sjögren’s may experience enlarged lymph nodes. Additionally, swollen lymph nodes have also been seen in people with Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

6. Hair loss

Many autoimmune diseases and disorders can affect the normal development of body cell growth. One of the most visible ways this symptom presents itself is through abnormalities in hair growth, which can disrupt the body’s ability to support the normal growth cycle. This can occur in both male and female patients and commonly occurs in Alopecia areata and lupus. In these autoimmune diseases, your immune system mistakenly attacks a part of your body.

In Conclusion

“Autoimmune diseases affect over 80 million Americans“.

They include type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, colitis, and Crohn’s disease, to name a few. The one thing they all have in common is that the body is essentially attacking itself. Even if you’ve been perfectly healthy and live a balanced lifestyle and suddenly start feeling any of these symptoms out of the blue, don’t ignore them. You should always seek medical advice and further examine your symptoms and run tests to identify or rule out autoimmune disease.

While symptoms may come and go over time, seeing a doctor is the best way to learn about the safest and most effective ways to deal with your possible illness. Depending on the symptoms, you may even want to consider seeing a specialist.

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