Imagine your immune system being unable to distinguish your healthy cells from foreign cells., and causing the body to mistakenly attack healthy cells.
This malfunctioning of the immune system is medically termed as an autoimmune disease.
There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, many of them common to women and often genetic. Many of the symptoms of autoimmune diseases overlap, which can make a diagnosis that much more difficult.
Let’s dive deep into the world of autoimmune diseases, understand its causes and symptoms, and also get to know about the best autoimmune disease treatment in India.
What are autoimmune diseases?
Our immune system is a collection of cells, proteins, and organs. It protects the body from infection, illness, disease (caused by foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi,). The immune system attacks and destroys these substances before they have a chance to attack the body.
Autoimmune diseases cause a perfectly healthy immune system to attack our body instead of protecting it. It’s like a self-goal in football or hockey. But its repercussions can be quite serious and devastating, affecting several tissue types and nearly every organ in our body.
Most common autoimmune diseases
Out of the 80 types of autoimmune diseases, below are the most common ones:
Autoimmune diseases of joints and muscles
- Rheumatoid arthritis – immune system attacks the joints; results in soreness, stiffness, redness, and warmth in joints; can affect people younger than 30 years of age
- Psoriasis – skin cells multiply at a rapid pace leading to extra build-up; inflamed, red/purple patches with silver white/brown/gray scales erupt on the skin (throughout the body)
- Psoriatic arthritis – 30% of psoriasis patients also experience swelling, stiffness, and pain in their joints
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – first appearing like a rash, SLE affects joints, kidneys, heart, brain, among other organs
- Sjörgen’s syndrome – immune system attacks glands that secrete lubrication for the eyes and mouth
Autoimmune diseases of the nervous system
- Myasthenia gravis – corrupts nerve impulses that help the brain to control muscle and movement
- Multiple sclerosis – attacks the central nervous system by damaging the myelin sheath (the protective layer around nerve cells)
Autoimmune diseases of the skin
- Dermatomyositis – affects skin and weakens muscle; a form of myopathy, can cause severe respiratory problems
Autoimmune diseases of the digestive tract
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – caused by inflammation along the lining the intestinal wall
Crohn’s disease – inflammation along any part of the GI tract (from mouth to anus)
Ulcerative colitis – inflammation along the lining of the large intestine and rectum
- Celiac disease – often touted as gluten intolerance; gluten in the small intestine triggers the immune system to attack its lining and cause severe inflammation
Autoimmune diseases of the endocrine system
- Graves’ disease – attacks the thyroid gland triggering production of excessive thyroid hormone
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – slows down the secretion of thyroid hormone to the point of deficiency
- Addison’s disease – attacks the adrenaline glands and interferes with the production of cortisol, aldosterone, and androgen hormones
Other autoimmune diseases
- Type 1 diabetes – immune system destroys the insulin secreting cells in the pancreas
- Autoimmune vasculitis – immune system attacks blood vessels causing inflammation that narrows veins arteries
- Pernicious anemia – interferes with the stomach’s lining and hampers the production of a protein that is responsible for the absorption of Vitamin B12; eventually leads to a Vitamin B12 deficiency
Risk factors of autoimmune diseases
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of any autoimmune disease. However, research has indicated the following risk factors –
- Family history of autoimmune disease
- Exposure to toxins
- Side effects of certain medications
- Being female – nearly 78% of autoimmune disease patients are women
- Already having one type of autoimmune disease (puts you at risk of developing another)
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases
The following are the symptoms of autoimmune diseases characterized by type.
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases of joints and muscles
- Aches and pains in muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Stiffness, swelling, and pain in joints
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases of the nervous system
- Headaches and migraines
- Blurry vision
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive impairment
- Numbness and tingling
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases of the skin
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Hair loss
Symptoms of autoimmune diseases of the digestive tract
- Bloody stool (sometimes with mucus)
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux
- Food sensitivities
- Chest pain
- Weight gain/weight loss
- Swollen glands
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Temperature sensitivity
- Shortness of breath
Diagnosing autoimmune disease
An autoimmune disease is among the most difficult diseases to diagnose. Depending on your symptoms, age, and medical history, your doctor may recommend the following tests to diagnose an autoimmune disease –
- Antinuclear antibody test (ANA)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Complete blood count (CBC)
Certain symptoms accompanied by specific blood markers can help diagnose an autoimmune disease.
Best autoimmune disease treatment in India
The administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has shown great results in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The immunomodulatory, tissue-protective and repair-promoting properties of MSCs make stem cell therapy a great alternative to traditional prescription-based treatment for autoimmune diseases. A form of regenerative treatment, stem cell therapy has brought about a significant reduction in inflammation, and has helped regulate the immune system.
Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre uses autologous mesenchymal stem cells taken from the patient’s own body. The procedure is conducted by Dr. Sadiq, India’s no. 1 stem cell specialist, and his team of highly-skilled and experienced stem cell specialists
Book an appointment with Dr Sadiq today.
Call +91 89048 42087 | 080-2546 0886
080-2547 0886 | 080-2549 0886
Can stress cause autoimmune diseases?
Yes, stress can trigger autoimmune diseases like Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Is anxiety part of autoimmune disease?
Anxiety can be a symptom of autoimmune diseases affecting the nervous system, like multiple sclerosis.
How do you live with an autoimmune disease?
Make sure you get adequate rest, exercise regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce stress, and regularly review the results of your treatment.
What are the best vitamins for autoimmune disease?
Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids are said to greatly reduce inflammation and stimulate the healthy functioning of the immune system.
How long do autoimmune diseases last?
Nearly all autoimmune diseases are lifelong, and require regular check-ups. Over a period of time, treatment for autoimmune diseases can help the patient manage their symptoms and even reduce the severity/spreading of inflammation.
Does CBC show autoimmune disease?
CBC alone cannot diagnose autoimmune diseases. Your doctor may also ask for an antinuclear antibody test and erythrocyte sedimentation rate to confirm an autoimmune disease diagnosis.