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Autoimmune disease – A rare syndrome?

Mar 29, 2017

Autoimmune disease – A rare syndrome?

Autoimmune disease is the result of over activity of immune system which fails to differentiate between healthy and foreign cells and releases antibodies which attack the healthy tissues in the body causing vulnerability to infections and alteration in organ growth and function. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune disorders with rheumatoid arthritis, systematic lupus erythematosus, Addison’s disease, pernicious anaemia and psoriasis being some of the most prominent ones. Symptoms of these diseases vary to a great extent, however, on narrowing down the most common ones, fatigue, fever, malaise, joint pain and rash can be separated out. Similarly, the particular areas of the body that are mostly affected by autoimmune disorders are muscles, joints, skin, endocrine glands, blood vessels, connective tissues and red blood cells. Though the exact cause of this disorder is still unknown, it is said that sometimes, microorganisms and drugs are the causes that confuse the immune system and sometimes, it is the genes that make people prone to autoimmune diseases.

 

Despite affecting around 7% of the population of the United States, there has been no success in finding preventive measures to this chronic disease. However, certain tests like antinuclear antibody tests, autoantibody tests, CBC, urinalysis etc. help in the early detection of the disorder and might lead to its control before it flares up. Once diagnosed, the patient is treated with supplements which gets depleted from the body owing to the disease, blood transfusions if the blood is affected and physical therapies in case the muscles and joints are affected. In some cases, immunosuppressive medicines including corticosteroids (such as prednisone) and non-steroid drugs such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate, sirolimus or tacrolimus are used which tend to reduce the immune system’s abnormal response. Targeted drugs called tumour necrosis factor (TFN) blockers are also used for some special diseases associated with autoimmune disorders. Besides, at a personal level, eating a balanced healthy diet, avoiding stress, exercising regularly and limiting exposure to sun are some of the ways that help alleviate the conditions of autoimmune diseases.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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