Autoimmune diseases are one of the top 10 causes of death in women under the age of 65, and of the second-highest cause of chronic illness, and the top cause of morbidity in women in the United States. Additionally, autoimmune diseases have been reported to be on the rise in the U.S. and around the world, making this poorly understood category of disease a public health crisis at levels comparable to heart disease and cancer.
Autoimmune diseases come in many different varieties,including rheumatoid arthritis,thyroid disease, lupus, psoriasis,multiple sclerosis, and more.They can cause many different types of symptoms all over the body,that range from mild to severe in nature.Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system,whose usual job is to protect us from outside pathogens(bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.), gets confused and ends up “attacking”normal tissue instead.The body then forms antibodies to healthy tissue and disease results.A typical example is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the body makes antibodies that are directed against normal thyroid tissue.These antibodies and the associated inflammatory process can ultimately destroy the gland.Similar processes occur in other autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases can affect various tissues in the body,and are difficult to diagnose.Autoimmune disease symptoms can vary widely based on which organ is being attacked and the severity of the attack.Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of damage at a cellular level for abnormalities to show up in lab work or imaging studies, leading to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
Although there are many different types of autoimmune diseases and they can affect many different organs, at their core they are all similar in that they are an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself. Your immune system has a very sophisticated system for keeping you safe that leads it to identify all of the foreign substances that enter your body or that you come into contact with. If your immune system teams anything dangerous, it will produce antibodies to ward off the harmful intruders.
Autoimmune diseases are born when your body is working hard to defend itself against something potentially dangerous, such as an allergen, a toxin, and infection, or even food, and it fails to differentiate between the intruder and parts of your body. Mistaking certain types of tissue for harmful substances, your body turns these antibodies against normal tissue, wreaking havoc on your body.
CAUSES OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
Numerous underlying factors cause people to develop an autoimmune condition. There certainly is an underlying genetic component. However, whether these genes get expressed or turn on is caused by a host of other factors, such as toxins from heavy metals like mercury or mycotoxins from molds ,infections like Candida, Epstein-Barr and the herpes simplex virus, and most significantly, chronic inflammation tied to food sensitivities – particularly intolerance. There is a significant link between autoimmune disease and leaky gut.
SYMPTOMS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially a combination of several of them,you may have an autoimmune condition.
- joint pain, muscle pain or weakness;
- weight loss, insomnia, heat intolerance or rapid heartbeat;
- recurrent rashes or hives, sun sensitivity, a butterfly shaped rash across your nose and cheeks;
- difficulty concentrating or focusing;
- feeling tired or fatigued, weight gain or cold intolerance;
- hair loss or white patches on your skin or inside your mouth;
- abdominal pain, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea or mouth ulcers;
- dry eyes, mouth or skin;
- numbness or tingling in your hands or feet; and
FACTORS THAT PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE IN CAUSING AUTOIMMUNE CONDITIONS
A quick glance at today’s supermarket shelves reveals that the American diet is overloaded with highly processed foods, most of which have little to no nutritional value, but are loaded with harmful chemicals and other ingredients. Even some so-called health foods are often lacking essential vitamins and minerals.
Mental health and stress also have a direct impact on physical health. Today’s world provides more chronic stress than any other time in history. Television and other media provide a constant stream of violence, crime and sad stories. Few people get enough sleep every night. most people are over scheduled, overbooked and overrun – with no time for meditation and rejuvenation.
Pesticides, antibiotic overuse, heavy metals, EMF pollution, pharmaceuticals, GMOs, heavily processed foods, poor water quality, smog and pollution runoff are just a few of the components of our daily lives that regularly serve up a load of toxins and impurities.
HOW ARE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES TREATED?
Autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions and treatments usually involve attempts to control the process of the disease and to decrease the symptoms, especially during flare-ups. The following are some of the things that you can do at home to help alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disease:
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet;
- exercise regularly;
- get plenty of rest;
- decrease stress;
- avoid any known triggers of flare-ups.
The following therapies also have been shown to provide relief for some people:
- chiropractic therapy;
- nutritional intervention; and
- lifestyle modification.
It is very important to remember that when an autoimmune disease goes untreated, the risks increase for additional autoimmune diseases to develop. It is not uncommon for a person to have multiple autoimmune conditions when first presenting. When a person is equipped with knowledge and is empowered, the symptoms from the autoimmune condition can be minimized to the point where you can live your life an overall sense of health and well being.
When a person is equipped with knowledge and a plan, that person is empowered. And when a person is empowered with knowledge and a plan, they can live an empowering lilfe.