80 Types of Autoimmune Diseases
Several Autoimmune Disorders
Did you know there are more than 80 yypes of autoimmune disorders? No, I promise not to list all of them. I will briefly cover the more common autoimmune diseases that I haven’t written about in the past. I have recently written about Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s Disease and several hubs on Lupus so you can read detailed information on those diseases.
In the normal person, the body’s immune response protects them from invading diseases and infections. In a person with an autoimmune disorder things have gone haywire. Your body doesn’t recognize invaders from your healthy tissue, so your white blood cells or T cells attack healthy organs. They can virtually affect every part of your body. These diseases usually attack women, particularly African-American and Native-American women.
Many autoimmune disorders have similar symptoms, which makes diagnosis that much more difficult. Often this process is frustrating as your first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches and low fever. The diseases sometimes flare-up and sometimes go into remission. Most autoimmune diseases affect women more often than men, with higher percentages for Afro-Americans and Native-Americans people.
Celiac disease is another autoimmune disease characterized by an inappropriate immune response to dietary proteins found in wheat, rye, barley (gluten and gliadin). This response leads to inflammation of the small intestine and to damage and destruction of the villi that line the intestinal wall. These villi are projections (small folds) that increase the surface area of the intestine and allow nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and electrolytes to be absorbed into the body.
When the villi are destroyed, the body is much less capable of absorbing food and begins to develop symptoms associated with malnutrition and malabsorption. When the body is exposed to the gluten and gliadin proteins, it forms antibodies that recognize and act against not only the grain proteins, but also against constituents of the intestinal villi. As long as the patient continues to be exposed to the proteins, he will continue to produce these auto-antibodies.
Celiac disease is most prevalent in those of European descent, probably inherited, can affect anyone at any age. It is thought to be an inherited tendency that is triggered by an environmental, emotional, or physical event..
The possible symptoms include:
- abdominal pain and distension
- bleeding tendency
- bloody stool
- bone and joint pain
- changes in dental enamel
- greasy foul-smelling stools
- oral ulceration, weakness
- weight loss.
Children with this disease may experience delayed growth and development. It is estimated that 1 in 133 people in the U. S. have celiac disease but only 3% have been diagnosed.
Patients with celiac disease must follow a lifelong gluten-free diet.. Once all forms of wheat, rye, and barley have been removed from the diet the patient improves. It is important to detect and treat celiac disease as soon as possible, especially in young children. Celiac disease should be considered in infants who are not thriving, since foods with gluten are common and celiac auto-antibodies may begin to develop shortly after a child switches from milk to solid foods. In most cases the patient can lead a normal life by adhering to the diet.
This is in a group of rare, progressive diseases that involve hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body. Localized scleroderma affects only the skin. Systemic scleroderma also harms internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and digestive tract. Scientists estimate that about 250 people per million have some form of scleroderma.
The most prevalent signs of this disease include Raynaud’s phenomenon, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which in addition to acid reflux you may have trouble absorbing nutrients, and skin changes which may include swollen fingers and hands, thickened patches of skin, particularly on the fingers; and tight skin around the hands, face or mouth. The skin will appear shiny because it is so tight. I have a friend with this disease and she must wear a restrictive binding on her left arm from the top to her wrist, which means she always wears long sleeves. That’s not much fun living in Florida.
This disease affects not only your skin but also your blood vessels and internal organs; there are sub-categories defined by what area of the body is being attacked. One is called CREST and results from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen in body tissues. Native Americans get this disease 20 times more often than the general population, and it is more common with Afro-Americans as well.
It occurs 4 times more often in women than men. While there is no known cause exposure to silica dust, common in coal mines and rock quarries, some industrial solvents such as paint thinners and certain chemotherapy drugs may exacerbate the disease. There is no cure and treatment is typically the same as that for lupus patients, corticosteroids, Plaquenil, and anti-inflammatory medications.
This is another uncommon connective tissue disease which is characterized by muscle inflammation and progressive weakness, particularly in skeletal muscles which control movement, involving those closest to the trunk of the body first. It most commonly occurs in 30-50 year old people.
Signs usually develop gradually over weeks or months. The weakness is symmetrical; affecting both the left and right sides of your body, and tends to gradually worsen. Polymyositis is in a group of diseases or disorders of the muscles called inflammatory Periods of remission are possible. Treatment to strengthen muscles should start early as there is no cure. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, speaking, mild joint or muscle tenderness, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Treatment is corticosteroids, (which often start at very high doses then taper down), Cytoxan, cyclosporine and sometimes intravenous therapy of Immunoglobulin containing healthy antibodies from blood donors. There are several investigation drugs also being tried at the present time. These patients will need physical and speech therapy, plus a dietetic assessment.
Raynaud's disease is a condition that causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers, toes, tip of your nose and your ears — to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress. In Raynaud's disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas. It is more common in cold climates and also affects women more than men. This disease frequently is present along with other autoimmune diseases.
During an attack of Raynaud's, affected areas of your skin usually turn white at first. Then, the affected areas often turn blue, feel cold and numb, and your sensory perception is dulled. As circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, throb, tingle or swell. There are two type of Raynaud’s disease; primary and secondary. The secondary is considered the more serious disease and usually appear after 40 years of age. The causes of this disease are numerous; other autoimmune diseases, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive trauma, smoking, chemical exposure and certain medications including some blood pressure treatments
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile Rheumatoid ArthritisIts
It is the most common type of arthritis of those under 16 years of age, affecting 50,000 in the U. S. It’s a chronic condition causing joint swelling, inflammation, pain, swelling, redness and stiffness. I t may also affect the eyes and internal organs. About 1/5th of patients have an enlarged spleen.
There are 3 categories:
- Pauciarticular- about 50% of the cases are this type and most common in girls under 8 years old
- Polyartifular – about 30% of the cases and it affects 5 or more joints, especially in the hands and feet.
- Systemic – about 20% have this type and if affect both joints and internal organs. These children may have frequent fevers and rashes that come and go rapidly.
Doctors diagnosis this disorder once a patient has had the symptoms for at
least 6 weeks. These symptoms may include morning stiffness, limping,
reluctance to move an affected joint, joint pain and swelling. Patients with
systemic JRA may have intermittent fever, rash, swollen lymph nodes, and in
some cases liver, spleen, (very rarely) lung involvement and eye inflammation. The cause of this autoimmune disease is also
unknown. It tendency may be inherited
but is believed to that a triggering event is required for it to emerge. Several types of blood tests and x-rays are
done to aid diagnosis. There is no cure
so treatment is to relieve the discomfort of the symptoms. It is a heart breaking disease to see children suffer.
The term "autoimmune pancreatitis" was first used in Japan in 1995 to describe a newly recognized form of chronic pancreatitis. Since then, Mayo Clinic has played a major role in identifying, describing and treating the disorder in the United States. Mayo Clinic researchers have identified 2 types of this disease including one that can develop as young as 12 years of age.
It is diagnosed from several test with the most accurate being a core biopsy. Symptoms of autoimmune pancreatitis often improve dramatically after a short course of corticosteroids. But relapses are common, and some patients require additional or long-term therapy.
This is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It causes Inflammation and the destruction of myelin. Myelin surrounds nerve fibers and acts like insulation on a wire preventing “short-circuits” that divert a nerve signal from having its desired effects. The “demyelination” process interferes with nerve impulse transmission, affects muscular control, and causes a variety of sensory, motor, and psychological symptoms.
Again the cause is unknown but it is thought to be an autoimmune process triggered by a virus, environment factors and it has a genetic predisposition The first symptoms usually occur between ages 20-40. It affects women more frequently than men, is more common in Northern European Caucasians. It important to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, as well as, treating the disease before permanent damage causes symptoms. Interferon, corticosteroids and several other medications are used.
This is another uncommon autoimmune disease that affects about 1 in 20,000 people. Again there is no known cause or cure. Symptoms are due to inflammation that can affect many tissues in the body, including blood vessels (vasculitis), which makes it a very serious disease. It affects the upper (sinuses and nose), and lower (lungs), respiratory system and frequently involves the kidneys, lungs, eyes, ears, throat, skin and other body organs. Other symptoms include nasal membrane ulcerations and crusting, saddle-nose deformity, inflammation of the ear with hearing problems, inflammation of the eye with sight problems, cough (with or without the presence of blood), pleuritis, (inflammation of the lining of the lung), rash and/or skin sores, fever, lack of energy, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, arthritic joint pain, night sweats, and blood in urine which may or may not be indicated by a change in urine color.
Diagnosis is established by clinical and laboratory findings such as the ANCA blood test, other blood and urine tests, x-rays, and tissue biopsy. Treatment varies based on patient symptoms and disease activity. Corticosteroids and Cytoxan are the initial treatments, then Methotrexate or Azathioprine.
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of overactive thyroid gland. It is caused by an auto-antibody that acts like thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin which cause the thyroid to produce excessive hormones. It is usually seen in women over 20 and may cause symptoms and signs such as weight loss, increased appetite, hand tremors, heat sensitivity, sweating, nervousness, and in some patients, protruding eyes. Patients often have a higher heart rate and an enlarged thyroid (goiter).Radioactive iodine uptake in measured amounts is swallowed and considered a critical component for treatment. I had a friend with this disease and they finally "killed" her thyroid as she didn't respond to treatment. The symptoms made her miserable in the meantime.
Autoimmune Disease: How to Stop Your Body From Attacking Its
There Are So Many More Diseases
My intent was to give you an overview of some of the better known autoimmune diseases. If you have one of the disease I'm sure you know a good deal more about it than what I wrote, but if you have symptoms maybe one of these descriptions will help you. Of course, you want to be seen by a doctor and remember your symptoms are real, not in your head as many of us were told before we got a diagnosis.
Living with a chronic illness isn't easy but it is certainly better when you get it diagnosed and find out what you can do to improve your health. There is so much literature available on the internet, in books and I linked several hubs from other authors from Hub-pages that may be of help. I wish you all to be in the best of health!
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© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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