The immune system helps protect our body from any harmful, foreign substance such as bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and toxins considered to be an antigen. An antigen triggers the production of antibodies that will help fight and destroy infectious agents that are invading the body.
For a person living with an autoimmune disorder, their antibodies and immune cells do not distinguish between the healthy cells and antigens, destroying both. This can cause damage to or destruction of tissues, altered organ growth or altered organ function.
The Most Common Symptom
There are over 80 different types of autoimmune disorders and many of these disorders share identical symptoms making it difficult to diagnose. The most common symptom of an autoimmune disorder is inflammation. Inflammation is the reaction of body tissues to injury or disease.
Typically, there are five signs that mark inflammation:
- Loss of Function
Rates Are Increasing
Researchers are currently seeing an increased prevalence of autoimmune disorders. Although women are more likely to develop a disorder, they can affect both males and females. Genetics impacts the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. If there is a family member with the history of the disorder, you are at an increased risk.
Some of the most common autoimmune disorders:
- Diabetes (Type 1)
- Graves Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Hasimoto’s Thiroiditis
- Mutiple Sclerosis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Evaluating The Disorder
The cause of autoimmune disorders is unknown, but evaluating the triggers of the disease helps keep the disorder under control. How an autoimmune disorder affects you depends on what part of the body is targeted.
- Chemical Irritants
- Environmental Irritants
There is no known cure for autoimmune disorders, but there are a variety of ways to manage the disorder. The traditional approach to autoimmune disorders may include prescribing a corticosteroid or immunosuppressive drug to manage inflammation. Many immunosuppressive drugs make the patient even more susceptible to disease and infection and may cause more harm.
The goal of any treatment for autoimmune disorders should be to reduce symptoms, control the autoimmune process and maintain the body’s ability to fight disease. With a naturopathic approach, we will focus on the individual patient and their body’s reaction to exposed triggers, food sensitivities, lifestyle habits, and environmental toxins.