As many as 23.5 million Americans (over 7% of the population) suffer from an autoimmune disease. The prevalence is rising, too. Despite the growing prevalence, not many people know what autoimmune deficiency disorder is or the relevant symptoms.
In fact, there are over 80 different autoimmune diseases. People can have more than one at a time as well.
What is an autoimmune disorder, exactly? What are the signs, symptoms, and available treatment options? Keep reading to find out.
After reading this guide, you can determine if you need to visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Equipping yourself with this information will allow you to prioritize your health.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about autoimmune disorders today.
What is an Autoimmune Disorder?
First, let’s answer the question that’s likely on your mind: what is an autoimmune deficiency disorder?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions that cause the immune system to attack the body by mistake.
Usually, your immune system protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. When the body identifies these invaders, it sends cells to attack them. The immune system is supposed to know the difference between your cells and foreign invaders.
If you have an autoimmune deficiency disorder, however, the immune system will think parts of your body are foreign.
The body will then release proteins (autoantibodies) to attack your healthy cells.
Some autoimmune disorders only target a single organ. Others, however, can affect the entire body.
Doctors still don’t know what causes the immune system to attack the body this way.
Some patients are more likely to develop an autoimmune deficiency disorder than others, too. For example, women get these diseases at a rate of 2 to 1 compared to men. Some conditions target certain ethnic groups.
Some diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis are genetic.
There’s a chance exposure to chemicals, infections, diet, and genetics can all play a part.
For example, a Western diet could increase your risk of an autoimmune disease. High-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods can cause inflammation. Inflammation could set off an immune response.
However, there are no studies to prove this theory.
Vaccines and antiseptics limit a child’s exposure to certain germs. The lack of exposure could cause their immune system to overreact to harmless substances.
Environmental factors like infections and exposure to chemicals could trigger this response, too.
Researchers are still looking into what causes autoimmune skin disorders, though.
Types of Autoimmune Disorders
Now that you have an autoimmune disorder definition, let’s look into the different types of autoimmune disorders.
Remember, there are over 80 different diseases we classify as autoimmune disorders. Here are a few of the more common ones.
The immune system can attack the joints, causing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the joints
RA is more common in adults as they get older.
Type 1 Diabetes
The pancreas is responsible for producing the hormone insulin. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
With patients who have type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells. Patients can develop high blood sugar levels, which can damage blood vessels. It can also impact the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and heart.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can damage the myelin sheath. This protective coating surrounds the nerve cells in the central nervous system. Damage can slow the speed of messages between the brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body.
Damage can cause symptoms like:
- Trouble walking
- Balance issues
The disease can progress at different rates.
Your body sheds cells when they’re no longer needed. Psoriasis can cause cells to multiply faster than normal. Extra cells build-up, causing inflamed patches of skin.
Patients can experience swelling, pain in their joints, and stiffness.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes conditions that lead to inflammation in the intestinal wall’s lining. IBD affects the GI tract.
Common types of IBD include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Addison’s disease impacts the adrenal glands, which produce aldosterone and cortisol. Symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Low blood sugar
Cortisol can impact how the body uses and stores carbs and sugar. Aldosterone can cause sodium loss or excess bloodstream.
Sjögren’s attacks glands that lubricate the eyes and mouth. It can also affect your skin or joints.
Signs of the signs of autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Sensitivity to cold
- Thyroid swelling
With this condition, thyroid hormone production slows until you develop a deficiency. If these symptoms sound familiar, consider consulting the hashimoto expert for help.
The signs of an autoimmune disorder can vary based on your specific condition. However, the early symptoms are sometimes similar. For example, an autoimmune deficiency disorder might cause:
- Skin rashes
- Hair loss
- Low-grade fever
- Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Swelling and redness
- Achy muscles
With autoimmune skin disorders like RA or psoriasis, symptoms can come and go.
With type 1 diabetes, you might experience fatigue, weight loss, and extreme thirst. IBD can cause diarrhea, bloating, and belly pain.
If you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms, consider consulting a doctor to diagnose your condition. Your doctor will likely use an antinuclear antibody test (ANA) if your symptoms suggest a disorder.
Treatment can help control your body’s overactive immune response. It can also reduce inflammation. Your doctor might recommend immune-suppressing drugs.
They might also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
Treatment could ease symptoms like skin rashes, pain, and swelling.
Consider talking to your doctor about other ways to relieve your symptoms. For example, they might recommend regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.
Attacking Invaders: Understanding Autoimmune Deficiency Disorder
To recap, what is an autoimmune disorder? An autoimmune deficiency disorder can cause the immune system to attack your body by mistake. If these signs of an autoimmune disease sound familiar, visit a doctor right away.
They can help you determine the best course of treatment moving forward.
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