Your immune system plays a major part in your overall health and wellbeing. It’s your body’s defense against infections and diseases. Without your immune system, you would constantly fall ill from bacteria or viruses. The immune system is derived of special cells, organs, and tissues that work alongside each other to protect you.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s natural defense system cannot tell the difference between foreign and your own cells. This causes the body to wrongly attack normal cells. Here we will explore the different types of autoimmune diseases and what treatment is available to relieve symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. This means the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by accident, which causes inflammation in the affected parts of the body. RA predominately attacks the joints, and in most cases, many at once. The condition normally affects the feet, hands, and wrists.
There may be moments when symptoms flare up and become worse. You should speak to your GP if you believe you have RA symptoms. Diagnosing the disease early is crucial. This is because early detection and treatment can stop it from worsening, as well as lower the risk of joint damage.
Treatments for RA include medicines that can be taken long-term to relieve symptoms. Supportive treatments like occupational therapy and physiotherapy may help in keeping mobile and managing problems that you may have with day-to-day activities.
The severity of this autoimmune disease varies significantly from person to person. For some, psoriasis is just a minor irritation, whereas, for others, it can have a huge impact on daily life. Psoriasis is a long-lasting disease that normally involves periods where there are no symptoms, followed by periods where symptoms are more prominent.
You can check out Patient who have a thorough guide on psoriasis. They explain in detail what causes the condition, treatment options, and common signs and symptoms to look out for. Knowledge is power, so if you believe you have psoriasis, make sure to see your GP to get an accurate diagnosis.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is an autoimmune disease that impacts the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. The immune system attacks nerve fibres which can cause inflammation. MS is a lifelong condition that can in some cases, result in serious disability. However, it can occasionally be mild too.
In many instances, it is possible to treat MS symptoms. The disease is normally diagnosed in people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. However, MS can develop at any age. MS symptoms vary significantly and can affect any area of the body. Although, the main signs to look out for include fatigue, vision problems, difficulty walking, and muscle stiffness.
While there is no current cure for the disease, a number of treatments can help control MS and ease symptoms. These include treating relapses with a short course of steroid medicine to shorten the recovery process. There are also medicines known as disease-modifying therapies that can help in reducing the number of relapses.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid by mistake. This causes it to become overactive. While the exact cause of graves’ disease is unclear, it mostly affects young or middle-aged women and tends to run in families. There are certain risk factors you need to be aware of which can increase your chance of getting the disease, like smoking.
Regarding treatment, radioiodine therapy tends to be the most common for graves’ disease. Beta-blockers can also help treat the disease. Common signs and symptoms of graves’ disease include anxiety and irritability, heat sensitivity, weight loss, despite normal eating habits, and a fine tremor of the fingers or hands.
Although graves’ disease isn’t usually life-threatening, you are at a higher risk of developing heart problems and brittle bones without treatment. Grave’s disease is a lifelong condition. But, treatments can help in keeping your thyroid hormone levels in check. In some cases, medical treatment can make the disease go away temporarily. Speak to your GP who will conduct tests to establish if you have graves’ disease.
While there isn’t concrete evidence to determine what exactly causes an autoimmune disease, there are many factors that seem to be involved. For those who have an immune system disease, learning as much as possible about it can help relieve symptoms, get expert help, and improve your day-to-day quality of life.