Explore the signs and symptoms of the most common types of autoimmune disorders
What is an autoimmune disorder?
Our immune systems work to keep our bodies healthy by attacking invading cells such as viruses or bacteria that could potentially make us sick. In some instances, however, the immune system may malfunction and begin to attack healthy cells in the body. This is called an autoimmune disorder, and it is unknown what the exact causes of this type of disease are.
The five most common autoimmune disorders
There are approximately 80 different types of autoimmune diseases. Many of them have very similar signs and symptoms, which can often make diagnosis difficult. Below we will take a look at several of the most common.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Also known as RA, this disease primarily affects the joints of the wrist and hands. It can be extremely debilitating and painful, causing severe swelling and inflammation and making daily tasks nearly impossible. In recent years, many new medical advancements have made living with rheumatoid arthritis much more manageable, slowing its progression and decreasing the discomfort caused by this disease.
In many cases, lupus can be very difficult to diagnose because it affects so many different parts of the body. One of the most telling signs of this disease is a butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across the face in some cases. This autoimmune disease causes inflammation that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs and brain.
This autoimmune disorder affects the cells of the skin and causes them to grow much more rapidly than usual. This rapid growth causes the skin cells to build up in scaly, white or silver patches called plaque. It can occur anywhere on the body and can be itchy or painful.
- Type 1 diabetes.
There are approximately 1.3 million people in the United States living with Type 1 diabetes. This disease occurs when the beta cells in the pancreas stop producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for the proper metabolism of sugar in the bloodstream. Telltale signs of Type 1 diabetes include high blood glucose levels, frequent urination, excessive thirst and weight loss.
- Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. This gland produces hormones that are vital for the proper functioning of numerous different systems throughout the body. With Hashimoto’s disease, the thyroid becomes inflamed, which leads to an imbalance of hormone production and causes many different symptoms such as tiredness, sensitivity to cold temperatures, unusual weight gain, pale skin, weakness, joint pain, hoarse voice and swelling of the thyroid gland. This disease is usually easily manageable with prescription thyroid medications.
The medical and scientific communities have spent a great deal of time researching the causes of autoimmune disorders in recent years, and they are making great advancements in understanding their origins and causes. Treatment options are now more widely available, and although there are no cures yet, new discoveries in areas such as stem cell treatment are paving the road for a brighter future, free from autoimmune disorders.
If you experience symptoms that could lead to an autoimmune disease, it is important to see a physician.
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