The Enemy Within – Autoimmune Disorder
Our body is blessed with a competent defense mechanism against all possible threats. This mechanism is our body’s immune system. It is made up of cells, tissues and organs that protect our body round the clock. But what if these very protective forces turn hostile and start destroying our body. Such an unfortunate state gives rise to an autoimmune disorder. This article looks at auto-immune disorders more closely.
Definition of Autoimmune Disorder: It is an ailment where the body’s own immune system attacks the healthy functional cells and tissues. Instead of seeking and destroying the harmful invaders into our body (technically called “antigens”), the immune system helps them in the destruction of our body. As a result, the blood in patients with this disorder contains a very high number of antigens.
Examples: There are 80 different types of this disorder. Some of them are:
- Addison’s disease
- Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis
- Diabetes (Type 1)
- Nephritic Syndrome
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
- Systemic lupus erythematous
Inside the Body of a Patient with Autoimmune Disorder:
Bacteria and viruses are in the air we breathe. Toxins are present in the food we eat. Cancer cells developing in our body form antigens. The immune system’s antibodies continuously search for antigens, locate them, fight with them and secure the body from the threats of these organisms.
However, in the case of a patient suffering from this disorder, the immune system is unable to distinguish between the antigens and the healthy cells. The reasons for this inability are not yet known. There is no explanation for autoimmune disorder. There is also no cure for this disorder, yet. Once the symptoms are diagnosed, treatment only means efficient management of this disorder.
An autoimmune disorder causes killing of healthy functional cells and tissues, and abnormal growth and malfunction of the organs in our body. Some of the cells, tissues and organs deeply affected by this disorder are red blood cells, connective tissues, blood vessels, skin, muscles, joints, thyroid and pancreas. The genetic cells inherited from parents also play a vital role in the destruction caused by this disorder.
Symptoms of an Autoimmune Disorder: The symptoms are specific to the kind of disorder the patient is affected with. There is a tendency for these symptoms to overlap. This makes it difficult to isolate a disorder specifically. However, some of the common indications are:
Important Facts about Autoimmune Disorder:
- According to an estimate of the National Institute of Health, 23.5 million Americans are suffering from this disorder and its prevalence is rising in society.
- Women are at higher risk of being affected by this cluster of disorders.
- It is one of the top 10 health problems causing death in women up to the age of 64 years.
- The female hormone “estrogen” affects the immune system in such a manner that it starts autoimmune disorders faster in women.
- One disorder increases the risks of getting other disorders too.
- Good diet, regular exercise, adequate rest and a stress-free life are imperative once diagnosed with this disorder.