What do you know about autoimmune diseases?

How often do you go for a thorough medical check-up? It’s important to go for detailed check-ups to know our health so that in case of any illness, it can be treated at an early stage.

Autoimmune disease disorders are common in women, however, experts say that the disease affects those of childbearing age and is among the leading cause of death and disability in girls and women of 65 years and below.

To some researchers, women are at a greater risk of developing autoimmune disease compared to men because their immune system is more refined than men’s.

If you are the type of person who usually experiences abdominal pain, dry mouth, eyes or skin, has continuous miscarriages, or feels tired often, you need to see the doctor because you could have developed autoimmune disease.

“Autoimmune disorder is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake,” says Dr Iba Mayele, a gynaecologist from Clinic Galien, Kimironko.

Mayele adds that autoimmune disease can affect many parts of the body; however, no one is sure about the cause of the disease.

He says, “There are many underlying factors that cause people to develop an autoimmune disease, for example, there are essential genetic components. However, whether these genes get expressed or turned on is actually caused by a host of other factors such as toxins from metal like mercury, infection like candida, Epstein Barr — one of eight known human herpesvirus types in the herpes family — and the herpes simplex virus, and chronic which is tied to food sensitivities, particularly gluten intolerance.”

CAUSES

According to Dr Kenneth Ruzindana, a gynaecologist at Kibagabaga Hospital, the immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and virus, when it senses foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them.

Ruzindana further says that, normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of the body like the joints or skin as foreign; it releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.

Mayele says that some of the autoimmune diseases that any part of the body can be involved in include alopecia areata, celiac disease, diabetes mellitus type 1, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid, arthritis, systemic lupus, and erythematosus.

In her book ‘The Autoimmune Solution’, Dr Amy Myers says if you have a leaky gut, the tight junctions that typically hold your gut lining together become loose, hence, allowing undigested food particles, microbes, toxins, escape your gut and enter your blood stream, thus causing autoimmune disorder but also, stress — both physical and emotional — can disrupt the immune function. Stress is the body’s response to a threat, wound or infection.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

“Symptoms include joint or muscle pain/weakness, weight loss, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, recurrent rashes or sun sensibility, difficulty concentrating or focusing, feeling tired or cold intolerance, hair loss or white patches on the skin, abdominal pain, blood or mucus in the stool, diarrhoea or mouth ulcers, dry eyes, mouth or skin, numbness or tingling in the hand or feet and multiple miscarriages or blood clots,” Mayele says.

TREATMENT

Mayele says that if you suffer from the disease or experience some of the above signs and symptoms, you need to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressant drugs, and immunoglobulin.

PREVENTION

“In order to avoid autoimmune disorder, heal your gut (visit the doctor to recommend the kind of medication that can help your gut cure), remove gluten, grain and legumes from your diet since they contain proteins like lectins which act as a natural pesticide for crops, test for heavy metals and mycotoxins, find and treat infections like HSV and EBV (monolaurin from coconut oil can treat both infections),manage your stress (relieve stress by doing exercise, meditating or taking a cup of herbal tea free from caffeine), and strengthen your immune system by avoiding illnesses,” writes Myers.

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