Sometimes, the immunity cells can mistakenly attack healthy organs and cells of the human body. This leads to multiple conditions known as autoimmune diseases. Know more by reading the article.
By Tasneem Sariya
The immune system is responsible for the healthy functioning of a body. It wades off external harmful bacteria and virus and protects the body from infections. Usually, the immunity system can tell the difference between foreign germs and healthy body parts.
Doctors are still not able to clearly understand the causes of autoimmune diseases. It is generally believed that the causes could be genetic in nature, due to the destruction of the bacteria or microbiomes in our guts. Some autoimmune diseases attack only one particular organ, such as, the liver, pancreas whereas; others may attack the entire body as a whole, such as in lupus.
Women are more affected by autoimmune diseases than men, though again there is no definite cause or reason known.
Autoimmune diseases are rapidly increasing and are related to lifestyle, environmental and genetic conditions. Since women, especially women in the childbearing age, it is best to be aware of the different types of autoimmune diseases and their symptoms.
1. Lupus: It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of those suffering from this disease are women. It can affect and cause damage to many parts of the body, such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, joints, muscles, brain and skin.
Symptoms: Are general in nature and relate to other ailments, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, bad headaches, painful or swollen joints, chest pain, rashes on the skin, difficulty in breathing, mouth or nose ulcers and anaemia. It can lead to complications in pregnancy since it increases the risk of miscarriages.
There is no way to completely cure Lupus. However, doctors prescribe medicines to ease the conditions and improve the quality of life by minimizing and controlling the symptoms.
Treatment: Medical treatment includes corticosteroid drugs, NSAID painkillers and thyroid medications. Natural treatment includes avoiding gluten foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, high sodium foods and foods that have high fats. Recommended foods are raw vegetables, nuts and seeds, raw milk, cucumber, olive oil, coconut oil, melon and herbal or green tea along with lots of water.
2. Psoriasis: This autoimmune disease affects primarily the skin, causing the skin cells to grow faster and leading to their damage. Patients also develop swelling in joints, leading to psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms: Include flaky and patchy red areas on the skin, itchiness and at times, the bleeding of skin which can be extremely painful.
Treatment: The doctors prescribe effective moisturizers and shampoos. However, psoriasis can be avoided by avoiding soda, beer, white bread, red meat, eggplant, ice creams and frozen pizzas.
3. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Occurs when there are pain and inflammation of joints in the body. Easy to diagnose, rheumatoid arthritis is the swelling of joints of the elbow, fingers, hip or knees and is considered a degenerative condition which can affect the entire body.
Symptoms: Besides the obvious pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints, other symptoms include loss of appetite, fever and fatigue.
Treatment: There are several medicines prescribed to ease the pain and swelling by a doctor. Lifestyle changes like different exercises can also help. Intake of cinnamon, black pepper, green tea, garlic and ginger can help alleviate the pain.
4. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Affects and damages the thyroid and is again more common in women.
Symptoms: Include weight increase, cold feet and hands, mood swings, fatigue, dry nails and skin, hair loss, joint pains and swelling of the thyroid.
The disease may cause thyroid hormone deficiency and medications are centred on replacing the hormone because chronic damage to the thyroid can lead to many other complications, such as mental and heart issues.
Treatment: Natural treatments include, avoiding gluten foods, sugar and fast foods. Consuming gut healing foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, sprouted seeds/beans, bone soup or broth and coconut oil are recommended.
5. Sjogren’s Syndrome: Attacks the saliva and tear glands causing a lot of discomfort and dryness in the eyes. The disease could affect the eyes or the mouth.
Symptoms: Symptoms include dryness in eyes or mouth, joint pain, difficulty in swallowing, dry cough.
Treatment: Depends on the part of the body where the disease is found. For the mouth doctors prescribe certain lip balms and chewing gum, whereas, for the eyes, drops are prescribed. In severe cases, surgery may also be done. Natural treatment includes drinking tea with lemon, honey or cinnamon oil, bone broth, taking care of dental health and getting plenty of sunshine.
6. Celiac Disease: Attacks the intestine and is highly sensitive to the intake of gluten. The immune system reacts to the gluten which leads to the damage of the small intestine.
Symptoms: Include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and flatulence.
Treatment: It is imperative to avoid gluten, a protein found in rye, wheat, barley and other grains. Sometimes, even small crumbs of the grain could lead to abdominal pain. Long-term effects of this disease include gallbladder malfunction, infertility and miscarriages, iron deficiency and nervous system disorders.
7. Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is when the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells leading to high blood sugar which in turn is responsible for multiple medical conditions of the heart, kidney, nerves, liver, eyes and can be dangerous for the mother and child during pregnancy.
Symptoms: Include frequent hunger, thirst, urination, weight loss, fatigue and weakness, blurred vision and mood swings.
Treatment: Besides the prescribed medication, one must avoid refined sugar, gluten foods, alcohol, processed oils. Instead eat foods rich in fiber (peas, nuts, berries, flaxseeds), magnesium-rich foods (spinach, yoghurt, almonds) and proteins such as chicken, eggs, lentils and bone soups.
Some other autoimmune diseases are the Graves’ disease, Addison ‘s disease, multiple sclerosis and vasculitis.
Autoimmune diseases have increased in the recent years and though at times their advent is not in our hands, a healthy change in lifestyle and food intake can surely help in the long run.
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