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Monday, February 19, 2018

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?


What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Your Creator has given your body an immune system that protects you from disease and infection. Sadly, your immune system may attack itself in the form of autoimmune diseases, which can affect many parts of your body, including your nerves, muscles, endocrine system (the system that controls your body’s hormones and other chemicals), and digestive system.

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosistype 1 diabetes mellitusrheumatoid arthritis, and myasthenia gravis, among many others.

Many of these diseases associated with autoimmunity are often chronic, requiring lifelong care and monitoring.

Most of these autoimmune diseases strike women more than they do men, particularly women of working age and during their child-bearing years.

Risk Factors

(1) Stress is a major factor triggering the onset of an autoimmune disease, especially if you already have an over-stressed or a weakened immune system. As you age, your stress may increase with increased limitations on your life. In order to cope with daily living, you need to conquer your stress, which may lead to depression and anxiety, which are commonly associated with aging.

(2) The genes you inherit may predispose your susceptibility to developing an autoimmune disease.

(3) Viruses may also contribute to the development of an autoimmune disease.

Symptoms

Autoimmune disease symptoms may vary according to the types of autoimmune disease. Though they may share some common symptoms, it is often difficult to diagnose which type of autoimmune disease you may be having. Many of them often do not show a clear pattern of autoimmune disease symptoms at first. In addition, these symptoms may come and go (known as remission).

Treatments

Autoimmune disease treatments depend on the type of autoimmune disease you may have, and the severity of the autoimmune disease symptoms. Since autoimmunity takes many forms, autoimmune disease treatments may require different specialists, for example:

A dermatologist to treat alopecia areata, psoriasis (problems of skin, hair, and nails)

An endocrinologist to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease (problems of glands and hormones)

A gastroenterologist to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (problems of digestive system)

A hematologist to treat pernicious anemia and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (problems of blood)

A nephrologist to treat lupus (problems of kidneys)

A neurologist to treat multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis (problems of nerve)

A rheumatologist to treat lupus and scleroderma (problems of arthritis)

Generally, all conventional medical treatments aim at:

Relieving symptoms through the use of drugs

Preventing further damage to organs affected: e.g. insulin injections to regulate your blood sugar if you have type 1 diabetes mellitus; drugs to control your inflamed kidneys if you have lupus

Suppressing the immune system through immune-suppressing drugs

Your immune system is your body’s most specialized defense mechanism to protect you from any foreign invaders, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. As such, it requires an intricate network of optimum functioning of many different cells in your body.

No Miracle Cures

Conventional autoimmune disease treatments aim at suppressing the immune system in order to prevent further destruction of self-tissues. At best, they may limit some symptoms and even manage pain, but they do not result in a permanent cure. There are no miracle cures for autoimmune diseases.

In autoimmune diseases, the immune system is attacking the tissue because it is the unhealthy tissue that causes the initial attack. Once the tissue is targeted and attacked, the immune system “remembers” it, and continues to attack it. Therefore, using medications, such as prednisone, corticosteroids, or with proteins that block specific parts of the immune system, such as interferons, to suppress the immune system may, at best, slow down the attack by the immune system. But as soon as the medications are reduced, the attack comes back with a vengeance, because the tissue has become further degraded and unhealthy.

Holistic Approach

The immune system is supposed to protect the body from foreign invaders. Therefore, to suppress the immune system so that it will not attack itself is not really the solution to the problem. To address the issue is to strengthen the tissue so that it will not be targeted in the first place, instead of lowering the potency of the immune system as a means to reduce the severity of the attack. In order to cure autoimmune diseases, a holistic approach to healing the body and the mind is necessary. After all, autoimmune diseases evolve from a dysfunctional autoimmune system, which involves the whole body, not just any specific body part or organ. Therefore, the whole body must be healed first, before any healing will begin.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by 2018 Stephen Lau

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