Autoimmune Diseases | Autoimmune Disorder Types, Causes And Symptoms

Autoimmune Diseases | Autoimmune Disorder Types, Causes And Symptoms

December 7, 2018 0 By mcsenior
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Types Of Autoimmune Diseases In Nigeria

There are different kinds of autoimmune diseases today, they have similarities as well as differences too, but generally, they all have something to do with the immune system. The human body’s immune system is a complex network of special cells and organs that defends the body from germs and other foreign invaders. The immune system is the body’s own defense system against foreign attack or invasion of microbes causing infections like virus.

On this post, you will discover everything you need to know about the immune system as well as autoimmune diseases as you read on.

What Are Autoimmune Disease?

The major function of the immune system is to protect the body against foreign attacks or infection. The human body makes use of special complex network of special cells and organs to defend the body from microbes that may cause infections.

In some situation, the immune system may be unable to determine between self and foreign bodies, in a situation like this, the body starts fighting itself by producing auto-antibodies to attack normal cells by mistake especially when the T-cells also fails to keep the immune system in line.

In a clear term, autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system starts attacking its own body by error. The body parts that are affected depend on the type of autoimmune disease. There are more than 80 known types.

How Common Are Autoimmune Disease In Nigeria?

There is wide range of different types of autoimmune diseases with some more common than the other in Nigeria. Generally, it is estimated that not less than 100 thousand new cases of autoimmune diseases is recorded annually in Nigeria. Some autoimmune diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in Nigeria.

Who Gets Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone. Yet certain people are at greater risk, including:

• Women of childbearing age experience autoimmune diseases compared to men.
• If you have family members who had some autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis and other different types of autoimmune diseases in the past.
• Certain environmental factors like sunlight, chemicals called solvents, viral and bacterial infections may also expose you to some autoimmune diseases, or make them worse.

Different Types Of Autoimmune Diseases And Their Symptoms

Some of the autoimmune diseases have similar symptoms, some symptoms comes and go, or can be mild sometimes and severe at others. When symptoms go away for a while, it’s called remission. Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms.

Types of autoimmune diseases and their symptoms

Alopecia areata
The hair follicle is being attacked by the immune system affecting how a person.

Symptoms: Patchy hair loss on the scalp, face, or other areas of your body

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (aPL)
A disease that causes problems in the inner lining of blood vessels resulting in blood clots in arteries or veins.


• Blood clots in veins or arteries
• Multiple miscarriages
• Lacy, net-like red rash on the wrists and knees


Autoimmune hepatitis
The immune system attacks and destroys the liver cells.


• Fatigue
• Enlarged liver
• Yellowing of the skin or whites of eyes
• Itchy skin
• Joint pain
• Stomach pain or upset


Celiac disease
A disease in which people can’t tolerate gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye, and barley, and also some medicines which may cause damage to the lining of the small intestines.


• Abdominal bloating and pain
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Fatigue
• Missed menstrual periods
• Itchy skin rash
• Infertility or miscarriages

Type 1 Diabetes
A disease in which your immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, a hormone needed to control blood sugar levels. As a result, your body cannot make insulin. Without insulin, too much sugar stays in your blood. High blood sugar can hurt the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. But the most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease.

Further Reading  What Is Diabetes? | What Are The Early Signs Of Diabetes


• Being very thirsty
• Urinating often
• Feeling very hungry or tired
• Losing weight without trying
• Having sores that heal slowly
• Dry, itchy skin
• Losing the feeling in your feet or having tingling in your feet
• Having blurry eyesight

Graves’ Disease (overactive thyroid)
A disease that causes the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone.

• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Weight loss
• Heat sensitivity
• Sweating
• Fine brittle hair
• Muscle weakness
• Light menstrual periods
• Bulging eyes
• Shaky hands
• Sometimes there are no symptoms


Guillain-Barre syndrome
The immune system attacks the nerves that connect your brain and spinal cord with the rest of your body.


• Weakness or tingling feeling in the legs that might spread to the upper body
• Paralysis in severe cases


Hashimoto’s Disease (underactive thyroid)
A disease that causes the thyroid to not make enough thyroid hormone.


• Fatigue
• Weakness
• Weight gain
• Sensitivity to cold
• Muscle aches and stiff joints
• Facial swelling
• Constipation

Hemolytic anemia
The immune system destroys the red blood cells. Yet the body can’t make new red blood cells fast enough to meet the body’s needs. As a result, your body does not get the oxygen it needs to function well, and your heart must work harder to move oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.


• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Cold hands or feet
• Paleness
• Yellowish skin or whites of eyes
• Heart problems, including heart failure

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
A disease in which the immune system destroys blood platelets, which are needed for blood to clot.


• Very heavy menstrual period
• Tiny purple or red dots on the skin that might look like a rash.
• Easy bruising
• Nosebleed or bleeding in the mouth

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
A disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common forms of IBD.


• Abdominal pain
• Diarrhea, which may be bloody
Some people also have:
• Rectal bleeding
• Fever
• Weight loss
• Fatigue
• Mouth ulcers (in Crohn’s disease)
• Painful or difficult bowel movements (in ulcerative colitis)

Inflammatory myopathies
A group of diseases that involve muscle inflammation and muscle weakness e.g. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis.


• Slow but progressive muscle weakness beginning in the muscles closest to the trunk of the body. Polymyositis affects muscles involved with making movement on both sides of the body. With dermatomyositis, a skin rash comes before or at the same time as muscle weakness.
May also have:
• Fatigue after walking or standing
• Tripping or falling
• Difficulty swallowing or breathing

Multiple sclerosis (MS)
A disease in which the immune system attacks the protective coating around the nerves. The damage affects the brain and spinal cord.


• Weakness and trouble with coordination, balance, speaking, and walking
• Paralysis
• Tremors
• Numbness and tingling feeling in arms, legs, hands, and feet
• Symptoms vary because the location and extent of each attack vary

Myasthenia gravis (MG)
A disease in which the immune system attacks the nerves and muscles throughout the body.


• Double vision, trouble keeping a steady gaze, and drooping eyelids
• Trouble swallowing, with frequent gagging or choking
• Weakness or paralysis
• Muscles that work better after rest
• Drooping head
• Trouble climbing stairs or lifting things
• Trouble talking

Primary biliary cirrhosis
The immune system slowly destroys the liver’s bile ducts. The damage causes the liver to harden and scar, and eventually stop working.


• Fatigue
• Itchy skin
• Dry eyes and mouth
• Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes

A disease that causes new skin cells that grow deep in your skin to rise too fast and pile up on the skin surface.


• Thick red patches, covered with scales, usually appearing on the head, elbows, and knees
• Itching and pain, which can make it hard to sleep, walk, and care for yourself
May have:
• A form of arthritis that often affects the joints and the ends of the fingers and toes. Back pain can occur if the spine is involved.

Further Reading  Natural Remedies For Arthritis In Nigeria: Is There A Cure For Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis
A disease in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints throughout the body.


• Painful, stiff, swollen, and deformed joints
• Reduced movement and function
May have:
• Fatigue
• Fever
• Weight loss
• Eye inflammation
• Lung disease
• Lumps of tissue under the skin, often the elbows
• Anemia

A disease causing abnormal growth of connective tissue in the skin and blood vessels.


• Fingers and toes that turn white, red, or blue in response to heat and cold
• Pain, stiffness, and swelling of fingers and joints
• Thickening of the skin
• Skin that looks shiny on the hands and forearm
• Tight and mask-like facial skin
• Sores on the fingers or toes
• Trouble swallowing
• Weight loss
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Shortness of breath

Sjögren’s syndrome
A disease in which the immune system targets the glands that make moisture, such as tears and saliva.


• Dry eyes or eyes that itch
• Dryness of the mouth, which can cause sores
• Trouble swallowing
• Loss of sense of taste
• Severe dental cavities
• Hoarse voice
• Fatigue
• Joint swelling or pain
• Swollen glands
• Cloudy eyes

Systemic lupus erythematosus
A disease that can damage the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, and other parts of the body. Also called SLE or lupus.


• Fever
• Weight loss
• Hair loss
• Mouth sores
• Fatigue
• “Butterfly” rash across the nose and cheeks
• Rashes on other parts of the body
• Painful or swollen joints and muscle pain
• Sensitivity to the sun
• Chest pain
• Headache, dizziness, seizure, memory problems, or change in behavior

The immune system destroys the cells that give your skin its color. It also can affect the tissue inside your mouth and nose.


• White patches on areas exposed to the sun, or on armpits, genitals, and rectum
• Hair turns gray early
• Loss of color inside your mouth

Are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Fibromyalgia Autoimmune Diseases?

Both are not autoimmune disease but have same symptoms with most autoimmune diseases like general body weakness, being tired all the time and pain.
• Chronic fatigue syndrome may make you extremely tired, lose concentration, and experience severe pain with the cause still unknown.
• Fibromyalgia is characterized with fatigue, difficulty sleeping, morning stiffness, pain or tenderness in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs and are painful when pressure is applied to them. The cause is also not known.

How Is An Autoimmune Disease Diagnosed?

It may be difficult to diagnose autoimmune diseases because they have almost the same symptoms with other types of diseases. You may need to discuss with your doctor and you will be ask series of questions about your family history, ask you about the symptoms you have, your family history among other questions to identify the type of autoimmune disease you may have and further test that might be carried out.

What Types Of Doctors Treat Autoimmune Diseases?

Here are some specialists who treat autoimmune diseases:

Nephrologist: A doctor who treats kidney problems, such as inflamed kidneys caused by lupus. Kidneys are organs that clean the blood and produce urine.
Rheumatologist: A doctor who treats arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, such as scleroderma and lupus.
• Endocrinologist. A doctor who treats gland and hormone problems, such as diabetes and thyroid disease.
Neurologist: A doctor who treats nerve problems, such as multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis.
• Hematologist. A doctor who treats diseases that affect blood, such as some forms of anemia.
Gastroenterologist: A doctor who treats problems with the digestive system, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Dermatologist: A doctor who treats diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails, such as psoriasis and lupus.
Physical therapist: A health care worker who uses proper types of physical activity to help patients with stiffness, weakness, and restricted body movement.
Occupational therapist: A health care worker who can find ways to make activities of daily living easier for you, despite your pain and other health problems. This could be teaching you new ways of doing things or how to use special devices. Or suggesting changes to make in your home or workplace.
Speech therapist: A health care worker who can help people with speech problems from illness such as multiple sclerosis.
Audiologist: A health care worker who can help people with hearing problems, including inner ear damage from autoimmune diseases.
Vocational therapist: A health care worker who offers job training for people who cannot do their current jobs because of their illness or other health problems. You can find this type of person through both public and private agencies.
Counselor for emotional support:A health care worker who is specially trained to help you to find ways to cope with your illness. You can work through your feelings of anger, fear, denial, and frustration.

Further Reading  What Is Lupus Disease? | Here Are Facts About Lupus Disease You Must Know

Are There Medicines To treat Autoimmune Diseases?

There are many types of medicines used to treat autoimmune diseases. The type of medicine you need depends on which disease you have, how severe it is, and your symptoms. Treatment can do the following:

• Relieve symptoms. Some people can use over-the-counter drugs for mild symptoms, like aspirin and ibuprofen for mild pain. Others with more severe symptoms may need prescription drugs to help relieve symptoms such as
• Pain
• Swelling
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Sleep problems
• fatigue
• Rashes.
For others, treatment may be as involved as having surgery.

• Replace vital substances the body can no longer make on its own. Some autoimmune diseases, like diabetes and thyroid disease, can affect the body’s ability to make substances it needs to function. With diabetes, insulin injections are needed to regulate blood sugar. Thyroid hormone replacement restores thyroid hormone levels in people with underactive thyroid.

• Suppress the immune system. Some drugs can suppress immune system activity. These drugs can help control the disease process and preserve organ function. For instance, these drugs are used to control inflammation in affected kidneys in people with lupus to keep the kidneys working.

Medicines used to suppress inflammation include chemotherapy given at lower doses than for cancer treatment and drugs used in patients who have had an organ transplant to protect against rejection. A class of drugs called anti-TNF medications blocks inflammation in some forms of autoimmune arthritis and psoriasis.

Are There Alternative Treatments For Autoimmune Diseases?

Some types of alternative remedies for autoimmune diseases include

How Does Having An Autoimmune Disease Affect Pregnancy?

Women with autoimmune diseases can safely have children. But there could be some risks for the mother or baby, depending on the disease and how severe it is. Some medicines used to treat autoimmune diseases might not be safe to use during pregnancy.

How To Cope Living With An Autoimmune Disease?

Most autoimmune disease may not go away but the symptoms can be treated and you will be able to live a normal life. You need to discuss with your doctor to guide you on the healthy lifestyle habits you should embrace.

How Can I deal With Flares?

Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms. You might notice that certain triggers, such as stress or being out in the sun, cause your symptoms to flare.

What Can I Do To feel better If I Have An Autoimmune Disease?

If you are living with an autoimmune disease, there are things you can do each day to feel better:
• You need to embrace a healthy diet by eating more of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, and lean sources of protein. Limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
• You can start mild regular exercise like walking, jogging, swimming and other aerobic exercise. But be careful not to overdo it.

• Ensure you have quality time to rest and sleep. It is recommended that you sleep at least 7 to 9 hours daily.
• Try all you can to reduce stress

Learn More About Other Natural Remedies For All Diseases Here

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