There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases. Some of the most common are: multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, hashimotos, graves, lupus, psoriasis, raynaud’s, celiac disease, inflammatory dowel disease, addisons, restless leg syndrome, and even Type 1 diabetes.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?
I’m going to try to explain this in as non-technical terms as I understand it. It’s when your immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy cells and harmful cells. The immune system becomes overactive and attacks and destroys the healthy cells by mistake. An autoimmune disease can affect many different parts of the body. It’s also very common for a person to have multiple autoimmune diseases simultaneously. I happen to have three, but didn’t even know they were autoimmune until I started researching this. For instance, I’ve had seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema for years. And sure enough, when I healed the gut and reduced the inflammation in my body, the seborrheic dermatitis also healed up…first time is 30 years!
Who’s Affected by Autoimmune Diseases?
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 20%, or one-in-five are affected by one or more autoimmune conditions. And while researchers aren’t sure why, the prevalence seems to be increasing.
Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone at any age. Those that are at greater risk are; women of childbearing age, those with a family history of autoimmune disease, environmental factors – like sunlight, chemicals and viral and bacterial infections, and even those from certain ethnic backgrounds – type 1 diabetes is more common in Caucasians, lupus is most sever for African-American, Asians, Native American and Hispanic people.
What Causes Autoimmune Conditions?
This is a mystery still to be solved. There are many theories. For me, I know it was stress that ignited my storm. However, environmental irritants, hair dyes, smoking, chemical and toxic irritants, bacteria, viruses, heredity and genetics are also thought to be contributors.
What Are Some Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases?
While symptoms may vary depending on the disease and the person, some have similar symptoms, which makes it difficult sometimes for your doctor to know if you have an autoimmune disease, and if so, which one. Here are some of the first symptoms to recognize:
- Dry eyes or mouth
- Hair loss
- Sores in the nose or mouth
- Shortness of breath or heart palpitations
- Skin rashes
- Unexplained weight fluctuation
- Trouble sleeping
- Digestive Problems
- Repeated miscarriages
- Discoloration, numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling
- Chronic Pain
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of energy
- Low-grade fever