What Is An Autoimmune Disease?

Day and night, our body's natural immune system works to keep us safe from disease, infections and viruses. However, as with any machine, problems can arise and our defenses may be weakened. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly perceives normal bodily functioning as a threat and attacks itself, affecting nerves, muscles, tissues, or the digestive and endocrine (hormone) systems. While there is no "cure" for these diseases, health experts tells us there are ways of managing the symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which is one of the common autoimmune diseases, affects women in 75% of the approximately 2 million cases; within a few years, it leaves 30-40% of untreated sufferers disabled. Patients suffer stiffness of joints, immobility, chronic fatigue and inflammation. Lupus is another of the autoimmune diseases that causes swelling, weakness, muscle or joint pain and insomnia. A butterfly rash and light sensitivity also typically occur as telltale signs of lupus.

The danger untreated lupus presents is serious damage to internal organs and kidney failure, as well as seizures, depression, blood clots, depression, psychosis, strokes or migraines. Other autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis (although some debate the classification), type 1 diabetes, hepatitis, Addison's disease, Wegener's disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Grave's syndrome and over/underactive thyroids, so you'll want to check your family history for those genetic diseases as well.
There are many different doctors who treat autoimmune diseases. A nephrologist can check your kidneys, an endocrinologist checks your glands and if you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you have probably seen a rheumatologist. You may receive therapy from a physical therapist for joint/muscle pain, an occupational therapist will help you to find devices for assisted living, a speech therapist helps people with MS, or vocational therapist can help with specialized job training.

You may also want to see a chiropractor, masseuse or a counselor for emotional support. Millions of Americans are living with an autoimmune disease. While there is no magical cure, you can diminish the symptoms and maximize your personal happiness through one of the many available channels.

If you have an autoimmune disease, then you may opt to take pain relieving medication. Some patients take over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce swelling. More severe symptoms can be treated with prescription drugs. Other patients may choose one particular symptom to treat with medication, such as insomnia, depression, anxiety or rashes. Usually, it is a system of trial-and-error to see what your body responds to, so don't feel discouraged if the first attempt doesn't yield immediate results.

(Posted by Stefania Constantin at http://www.amazines.com/Health/article_detail.cfm/4032372?articleid=4032372)

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