Why are Autoimmune Disorders Rising? - A Quick Read
An autoimmune disorder is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.
Generally, our immune system acts as a guard against germs like bacteria, viruses, or any other foreign invaders in our human body. In normal instances, our immune cells can differentiate between our cells and foreign cells.
But in an autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakes part of your own body, such as joints, skin, etc., as foreign invaders and thus, releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack the healthy living cells.
At times, these autoimmune disorders target only one specific organ of the body like 'Type-1 diabetes' damages the pancreas. Whereas, at times, the whole body is affected, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
According to a 2014 study research, women are more at risk of getting the autoimmune disorder as compared to men. The study revealed that women get such disorders at a rate of about 2:1 compared to men. This begins during a woman's childbearing years.
Doctors have yet to pinpoint the exact reasons/ causes that trigger such disorders. Some autoimmune diseases are due to certain genetic illnesses, and some may be due to ethnicity or demographical differences.
A 2015 study pointed a possibility that it also might be due to diet structure or hygiene or the amount of chemical exposure involved.
A few of the most common symptoms to watch out for are:
- Persistent joint pain
- Persistent dry cough
- Weakness or pain in muscles
- Skin tightening over face and fingers
- Morning stiffness followed by swelling
- Photosensitive rashes all over the body
- Frequent ulcers in the mouth
- Dryness in eyes and mouth
These symptoms come up depending on the organ or system that is involved and affected. However, these disease-related symptoms initially occur in isolation and are often mild, which leads to a delay in consulting the doctor.
Thus, the symptoms mentioned above should not be ignored as these are the initial symptoms that create suspicions of the continuing autoimmune diseases. One should immediately seek help from a rheumatologist/immunologist.
You should visit a Rheumatologist to treat any joint-related diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, and SLE.
Visit a Gastroenterologist in case of diseases or disorders related to the GI tract such as celiac and Crohn's disease.
In case of conditions related to glands, such as Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Addison's disease, one should go to an Endocrinologist.
To treat skin-related issues such as psoriasis, visit a Dermatologist without any further delay.
Apart from immediate medical help, there are also certain ways to treat these autoimmune disorders. People have also been relying on certain herbs to cure autoimmune disorders and different types of yoga to overcome these health conditions.
Since ancient times herbs like sarsaparilla, yucca plant extract, spirulina, and green tea have been used to cure autoimmune disorders.
- Sarsaparilla purifies the blood and reduces joint and muscle inflammation; it typically treats gout, fever, arthritis, digestive disorders, psoriasis, and other skin disorders.
- Yucca plant extract decreases stiffness and muscle pain. It is also used to treat autoimmune skin disorders. You can simply ingest it or from physical contact with different body soaps and shampoos.
- Spirulina is also known as chlorella, is used to ease symptoms of lupus as it is rich in vitamins, amino acids, and chlorophyll.
- Green tea has rich anti-inflammatory properties and consists of polyphenolic compounds.
Other than these herbs, different types of yoga also ease and help cure autoimmune disorders. It is a holistic treatment for autoimmune diseases. These autoimmune disorders can be healed with a combination of asanas, pranayama, diet, sleep management, relaxation, and mental attitude. One should approach a well-guided Yoga teacher to help manage such disorders.
With the understanding of these parts targeted and specified traditional yoga, one can lessen the suffering by practicing below mentioned yoga for autoimmune disorders
Yoga positions, asanas, and pranayams such as Kapalbhati, Anulom-Blom, Viparita Karani with Baddha Konasana, Legs Yoga, Nidra Sarvasana, Supported Upright angle, Reclined Cobblers, Supported Shoulder Stand, Downward Facing Dog, etc. give visible results after certain days.
There are almost more than 80 different autoimmune diseases that are present and attack humans. Below is the list of autoimmune disorders which are very common.
Type 1 Diabetes:
In the human body, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin that regulates blood sugar levels. Thus, in type 1 diabetes mellitus, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed by the immune system.
Severe organ damages such as the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves can be caused due to an increase in high blood sugar, leading to damaged blood vessels.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA attacks joints and causes redness, warmth, soreness, and stiffness. You can get RA as early as in your 30s or maybe sooner.
When skin cells multiply too quickly, psoriasis occurs, the extra cell build-up then forms silver-white scales of plaque on the skin with inflamed, red patches.
Up to 30% of people who experience psoriasis develop swelling, stiffness, followed by pain in their joints, and when such pain in the joint persists, it is known as psoriatic arthritis.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):
Lupus commonly affects many organs, including the joints, kidneys, brain, and heart. The most common symptoms of lupus are joint pain, fatigue, and rashes.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases:
The lining of the intestinal wall, when inflamed, affects different parts of the GI tract. There are two common diseases such as Crohn's disease that can inflame any part or multiple parts of the Gastrointestinal tract, along with the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the rectum and large intestine.
When the thyroid gland in the neck is affected, it ends up producing too much of its hormone. The thyroid hormones control's the body's metabolism.
An excessive amount of this hormone causes symptoms like nervousness, a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance, and weight loss. A major symptom of this is bulging eyes, i.e., known as exophthalmos.
The glands that provide lubrication to the mouth and eyes are attacked and affected in Sjögren's syndrome. One of the major symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome is dryness in the eyes and mouth. However, it may also affect the joints or skin.
A person suffering from any of these needs to get him/herself checked/tested.
Based on the signs and symptoms, the following tests for autoimmune disorders are conducted to deduce the ultimate conclusion.
- Complete Blood Count test with white blood cell differential (CBC with WBC differential)
- Autoantibody test
- Antinuclear antibody tests (ANA)
- Comprehensive metabolic panel
- C-reactive protein test
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test
As per researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands, we have developed genetic changes and mutations to evade harmful pathogens over a certain period. These genes, which protect us from infectious diseases, also make us prone to a lot of autoimmune diseases. Thus, as evolution continues, we may be more prone to autoimmune diseases.