Auto immune conditions are disturbances of your immune system. Depending on your particular symptoms determines the ‘disease’ name given. Common symptoms include a low-grade fever, pain in joints and fatigue. The main problem with auto-immune diseases is that your immune system starts attacking healthy tissues that it thinks are harmful antigens. Depending on the particular type of autoimmunity the antibodies may attack your connective tissue like your skin and joint cartilage (rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus), or your nervous system (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and sometimes your glands (autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimotos thyroiditis) and organs.
There are many different kinds of systemic autoimmune disease. Each has their own set of symptoms and pathology. Some diseases are not entirely autoimmune in nature but have an autoimmune component. The following autoimmune diseases list is not a complete list but does cover most of the common auto immune disease 'labels'.
The underlying causes of auto immune diseases are multifactorial. Genetics do seem to play a role. However, just because someone has a gene that makes them susceptible to an autoimmune disease does not mean that they will inevitably get an autoimmune disease. The emerging field of epigenetics proves that, for the most part, we are not doomed by our genes and how we live our life can have a more profound effect on our overall health.
Doctors agree that besides having a genetic propensity to autoimmunity there often also needs to be a trigger to set it off. This could be an infection, certain foods (like gluten), chemical exposures, pharmaceutical drugs or extreme stress and physical trauma.
Another growing hypothesis of the cause of autoimmunity is called intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’. The hypothesis is that through various reasons the health of the intestines degrades. The villi that line the intestines become damaged and as a result very small food particles are leaked from the intestines into the blood stream. The body sees these as foreign entities and marks them as antigens (remember those ghosts in Pac-Man). While the leaky gut theory is growing, it is not entirely accepted within the western medicine community.
While the causes of a leaky gut are varied we know the following can play an important role in damaging the intestines: NSAIDs, certain pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol consumption, food intolerances, and poor digestive health.
Conventual Treatment of Autoimmune Conditions:
Western medicine treats autoimmune diseases by attempting to suppress the immune system. Steroids are often given for autoimmune diseases. NSAIDs may be given to stop inflammation. In extreme cases chemotherapy may be used to further suppress the immune system.
In western medicine the idea is that there is a diagnosable disease and then the cure resides in a pill. However, it is seldom that these pills actually cure the disease. Most of the time they simply suppress symptoms so that the person can momentarily forget they have the disease.
Because these pills don’t address the underlying cause or reason the person has the disease, more damage and havoc can continue in the body.