The immune system of our body is constantly fighting against viruses and bacteria. Its job is to protect us from foreign cells that try to harm us. However, there are certain illnesses that can result in your immune system attacking your own healthy cells. These illnesses are known as autoimmune diseases. They cause the immune system to treat certain body parts as foreign elements and release auto-antibodies to attack the cells.
Causes of autoimmune diseases
Exactly what causes the autoimmune diseases is still unknown, but researchers around the world have come up with a few possibilities. While genetics can be at fault, your diet, certain infections, and exposure to specific chemicals may also result in autoimmune diseases.
Types of autoimmune diseases
There are many different types of autoimmune diseases that affect your immune system and cause it to attack the healthy cells in your body. Below is a list of the most common types.
- Type 1 diabetes
This causes the immune system to attack the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
This illness forces the immune system to attack the joints in the body and results in stiffness, soreness, and redness.
- Multiple sclerosis
The nerve cells in the human body are protected by a coating called the myelin sheath. Multiple sclerosis makes the immune system attack this protective coating. The damage results in numbness, balance-related issues, weakness, and walking difficulties.
Other than these, there are many forms of autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Immune-system–related illnesses are hard to diagnose with any single test. That is why multiple medical tests are performed to determine the type of autoimmune disease one may have. The one test that is most commonly used by doctors is the Antinuclear Antibody test, which can tell if you have any autoimmune disease, but the test cannot confirm which one. Different other tests are performed to determine that. The doctors also need to determine the presence of certain auto-antibodies to know which type of autoimmune disease the patient has. There are multiple tests that are used for this. The body is also examined for inflammations as they can indicate autoimmune diseases, too.
Prevention of autoimmune diseases
There are certain ways you can limit the chances of autoimmune diseases. The very first thing to do is to avoid certain toxins like pollution, lead mercury, uranium, cadmium, pesticides, synthetic estrogens, and alcohol. You must also avoid smoking and maintain an anti-inflammatory diet. Researches have shown that improved gut health can also lower the risk of autoimmune diseases. You can maintain the health of your gut by avoiding sugar and grains. Your diet should include more fruits and vegetables that are rich in dietary fiber. Getting enough sleep regularly can also help to reduce the possibility of autoimmune diseases.
While the autoimmune diseases cannot be treated, there are medicines that can control the overreaction of the immune response. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications can treat inflammation, swelling, pain, skin rashes, and fatigue caused by autoimmune disorders.