"One of the functions of the immune system is to protect the body by responding to invading microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, by producing antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes (types of white blood cells). Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one's own body. In some cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of related diseases in which the person's immune system attacks his or her own tissue. There are more than 100 autoimmune diseases."
Information from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association http://www.aarda.org/
- Rheumatoid Arthritis -(RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people. But children and young adults can also get it. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body's own tissues. No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling.
- Psoriasis - (PsO) is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get the patches on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis called Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast. Psoriasis can be hard to diagnose because it can look like other skin diseases. Your doctor might need to look at a small skin sample under a microscope. Psoriasis can last a long time, even a lifetime. Symptoms come and go. Things that make them worse include: infections, stress, dry skin, and certain medicines. Psoriasis usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medicines, and light therapy.
- Lupus - is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. There are four common types of lupus:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most serious. SLE can affect almost any organ or system in the body including blood vessels, muscles, joints, the digestive tract, lungs, kidneys, heart and central nervous system.
Discoid Lupus causes a raised, scaly, red rash, usually on the face, scalp and neck and may cause scarring.
Drug-induced lupus is a type of lupus which is caused by prescription medications. Symptoms are similar to those of SLE; and once the medication is stopped, the symptoms usually cease.
Neonatal lupus is a rare disease that can affect some newborn babies of women with SLE or certain other immune system disorders. These babies may have a heart defect, skin rash, low blood count, and/or liver problems. However, most infants of mothers with SLE are born healthy.
- Ankylosing spondylitis - (AS) is an autoimmune disease and is a type of arthritis of the spine. It causes swelling between your vertebrae, which are the disks that make up your spine, and in the joints between your spine and pelvis. The disease is more common and more severe in men. It often runs in families. Early symptoms include back pain and stiffness. These problems often start in late adolescence or early adulthood. Over time, ankylosing spondylitis can fuse your vertebrae together, limiting movement. Symptoms can worsen or improve or stop altogether. The disease has no cure, but medicines can relieve the pain, swelling and other symptoms. Exercise can also help.
- Sjögren's syndrome - is a disease that causes dryness in your mouth and eyes. It can also lead to dryness in other places that need moisture, such as your nose, throat and skin. Most people who get Sjögren's syndrome are older than 40, nine of 10 are women. Sjögren's syndrome is sometimes linked to rheumatic problems such as rheumatoid arthritis. Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease. If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system, which is supposed to fight disease, mistakenly attacks parts of your own body. In Sjögren's syndrome, your immune system attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. It may also affect your joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, and nerves. The main symptoms are dry eyes, and dry mouth. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.
These are just a few of the disorders classified as Autoimmune diseases. Visit one of our locations to learn about your disease and the best treatment to get you on the road to an active and healthy life.