Do you suffer from an autoimmune disease or have you ever wondered what it is? Does it have the same symptoms for everyone or different symptoms for different individuals? Is there any cure for this disease? Is it deadly? Kindly read on to find out.
What is an autoimmune disease? How does it affect your body?
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the White Blood Cells (WBCs) in our bodies mistake healthy organs for foreign invaders (germs) and attack them. In some cases, the damage to the organs or other healthy cells is severe and may cause the death of a person.
The exact reason for autoimmune diseases is unknown because normally our WBCs are able to distinguish between our own cells and foreign invaders (germs) but some scientists suspect that genetic factors, certain harmful bacteria and viruses, and one’s harmful lifestyle (like prostitution, smoking, and drinking) may be contributing factors to this disease.
Some autoimmune diseases affect only certain organs of the body. For example, in Type 1 diabetes, the WBCs attack and destroy only the Beta cells in the pancreas leading to insulin deficiency.
In Celiac disease, the WBCs attack and destroy only the Villi (a special type of cell which is finger-like in appearance) in the intestine leading to indigestion among other problems but in some diseases like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), the WBCs attack all the organs of the body. If not controlled soon, it will result in the death of a person.
What are the common symptoms of autoimmune disease? How does your body react to it?
All the autoimmune diseases exhibit the following common symptoms. They are:
- Muscle aches all over the body
- Swelling of the respective organs in the body
- Mild fever
- Restlessness and irritability
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Red skin rashes
You should consult a doctor immediately if you exhibit any of the above-mentioned symptoms. It could indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease.
List of autoimmune diseases you should be aware of
There are more than 100 different types of autoimmune diseases known to mankind. The list of autoimmune diseases is very long for each letter of the English alphabet. We can’t list all of them but some of the most common types of autoimmune disease are:
Type 1 Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus)
In this type of autoimmune disease, the WBCs in our bodies attack and destroy the Beta cells in the pancreas leading to insulin deficiency and high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can damage organs like our heart, kidneys, and eyes. This autoimmune disease affects only our pancreas.
This autoimmune disease is caused by consuming foods containing Gluten. When Gluten enters our small intestine, it causes our WBCs to think that the Villi in our small intestine are foreign invaders (germs) and our WBCs attack and damage them by mistake. This disease causes indigestion among other health problems.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
This disease is not like Osteoarthritis, which is caused by old age and loss of bone density. This is an autoimmune disease in which the WBCs in our bodies attack the bone cells on our knee joints. RA can cause soreness and stiffness in our joints.
In this type of autoimmune disease, the WBCs in our bodies attack and destroy the Myelin Sheath, which is the protective coating around our nerve cells. This slows down our response to external stimuli. In other words, we react very slowly to things and we do things at a slow pace (like a sloth).
The neural transmission between our brain and the rest of our body becomes very slow and ineffective (a lot of commands (electrical information) are lost in transmission). We also become very forgetful if we are affected by Multiple Sclerosis disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
There are two types of IBD namely Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. They cause our WBCs to damage the cells in our Oesophagus and large intestine respectively.
This type of autoimmune disease causes our WBCs to attack and destroy the cells producing hormones, cortisol, and aldosterone in our adrenal glands.
Deficiency of cortisol can cause fluctuating sugar levels in our bodies and the deficiency of aldosterone can degrade the Sodium absorption capacity of our cells.
In this type of autoimmune disease, our WBCs attack and put out of business, the organs that lubricate our eyes and mouth (the lacrimal organ and salivary glands respectively).
Hence, we face symptoms like dry eyes and dry mouth. We feel thirsty and sleepy often and are unable to digest our food efficiently if we are affected by this disease.
In this type of autoimmune disease, our WBCs attack the arteries of our hearts and narrow them down. This impairs our blood circulation and we feel tired often and will have low stamina. Use this image for Autoimmune Vasculitis.
In this type of autoimmune disease, our WBCs attack and destroy the cells lining our stomachs, which produce a special type of protein that helps our small intestines absorb vitamin B-12 from our food.
If there’s a deficiency of Vitamin B-12 in our bodies, we develop Anemia, our DNA will be damaged, and we will develop nervous weakness.
In this type of autoimmune disease, our WBCs cause the bone cells on our knee joints to multiply rapidly. Therefore there is a collision (more friction) between our leg bones and we develop stiffness, swelling, and pain on our knees. If not treated on time, this disease could prove fatal.
What type of food you should avoid when you are suffering from an autoimmune disease?
These are the foods you should avoid with autoimmune disease as they aggravate the symptoms of any type of autoimmune disease. The foods to be avoided if you have AutoImmune Protocol (AIP) are:
- All grains like oats, rice, and wheat.
- All dairy products.
- Legumes, such as beans and peanuts.
- Nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes.
- Any type of natural and artificial sugar.
- All oils except avocado, coconut, and olive oil.
- Artificial flavoring agents found in street food or canned food or packaged food.
Types of the autoimmune diet you should follow.
People affected by AIP should always follow this autoimmune diet as it prevents the symptoms of AIP and keeps a person healthy. They are:
- Any type of fish or meat.
- Any vegetable except the nightshades.
- Sweet Potatoes.
- Coconut Milk.
- Avocado, Coconut, and Olive Oil.
- Non-seed herbs such as Basil, Mint, and Oregano.
- Non-milk teas such as Green Tea or Black Tea.
- Beef broth.
How does it affect your immune system? Is it curable?
There is no cure for any type of autoimmune disease. Their symptoms can only be prevented by strictly following certain diets as discussed above. As science, technology, and medicine advance, I sincerely hope that there will be a cure for autoimmune diseases in the future.
What are the common types of autoimmune disease and when to consult with the doctor?
Different types of autoimmune diseases (over 100 types) have different symptoms and require different specialists. However, these are the most common types of autoimmune diseases and you need to consult the respective specialists for them.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
It causes soreness and stiffness in knee joints. You need to consult a Rheumatologists to cure the symptoms of this disease. Rheumatologists treat and cure joint pains.
It damages the Villi in our small intestines causing indigestion among many other health issues. You need to consult a Gastroenterologist to cure the symptoms of this disease. Gastroenterologists treat diseases in the small and large intestines.
This type of autoimmune disease destroys the glands that lubricate our eyes and mouth. You need to consult an Endocrinologist to cure the symptoms of this disease. Endocrinologists treat eye and mouth-related diseases.
This type of autoimmune disease causes intense pain on our knee joints and increases the friction between our leg bones. Any general doctor would be able to cure the symptoms of this disease. It should not be neglected as ‘ordinary pain’ caused due to doing chores.
How do you feel when you are suffering from autoimmune? Is it painful?
There are many different types of autoimmune diseases that cause many different symptoms. Some of the autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes and Sjögren’s Syndrome exhibit symptoms that are totally painless.
Other types of autoimmune diseases like Psoriatic Arthritis and Celiac disease exhibit very painful and severe symptoms. As a general precaution, you need to do regular checkups at a clinic or hospital to detect and cure any disease.
In case, you are experiencing very painful symptoms of any autoimmune disease, consult a doctor immediately. They could prove fatal if left untreated.
Do regular checkups at your nearby clinic or hospital to detect and cure any disease (including autoimmune diseases). If you exhibit painful symptoms of any autoimmune disease, consult a doctor at once. They could prove fatal if left untreated.
If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, strictly follow the recommended diet plan. Any deviations from it could cause the symptoms to resurface. Eat healthily and stay happy.
1. Are autoimmune diseases contagious?
No. None of the autoimmune diseases are contagious. However, some scientists believe that they are hereditary.
2. What are the most common autoimmune diseases?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Celiac disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, and Psoriatic Arthritis are some of the most common autoimmune diseases.
3. Can autoimmune diseases be detected in blood tests?
Yes, blood tests can detect most of the autoimmune diseases as there will be an upsurge in WBC count. However, a tissue biopsy is also needed to confirm it.
4. Can stress cause any autoimmune disease?
No, stress does not cause any autoimmune disease. It only aggravates their symptoms. Unfortunately, stress is also a symptom of many autoimmune diseases. So it’s like a runaway effect. One should consult a doctor immediately in that case.