Autoimmune disorders affect more than 23.5 million Americans. When you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system fails to differentiate healthy issues from potentially harmful antigens. This causes the body to destroy normal tissues and disrupt bodily functions including mobility and vision.
Below are some of the most common autoimmune diseases:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive and disabling autoimmune disorder. It causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues in your body including joints in your knees, hands, and wrists.
In the U.S., around 1.3 million adults are diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. Due to potential hormonal factors, the disease is two to three times more common in females than males.
Symptoms of the disease include:
- Swelling, tenderness, and pain around the joints
- Joint stiffness and deformity
- Loss of mobility and function
- Weight loss
- Prolonged fatigue
Like most autoimmune diseases, doctors have yet to discover what truly causes rheumatoid arthritis.
In some patients, genetic factors seem to have triggered the disease. Another probable cause is the presence of a virus or bacteria in the immune system.
When the immune system attacks the synovium or the smooth lining of a joint, pain and inflammation may result. Getting the appropriate rheumatoid arthritis care can help relieve pain, minimize any joint deformity, and slow down the loss of mobility.
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disorder that affects the central nervous system. It attacks the myelin or the protective sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Damage in the myelin disrupts the transmission of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. If left untreated, the disease can cause deterioration in the nerves.
Depending on which nerves are affected and the amount of damage inflicted, symptoms can include:
- vision impairment
- difficulty walking
- balance issues
- muscle weakness
- numbness in legs and feet
- loss of concentration and memory
Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. live with multiple sclerosis. While there is no known cure yet for this disease, doctors may prescribe therapies and medications to slow disease progression and reduce the relapse rate.
Psoriasis often characterized by dry, scaly, and itchy patches of skin. In psoriasis, skin cells multiply too quickly causing extra cells to accumulate and trigger inflamed red patches.
Current studies report that more than 8 million Americans are diagnosed with psoriasis. Common causes of psoriasis include:
- Skin or strep throat infections
- Skin injuries including cuts, scrapes, or severe sunburn
- Prolonged stress
- Heavy smoking and alcohol consumption
- Allergies to certain medications
- Extremely dry or cold weather conditions
Patients with psoriasis may experience “cycles” of symptoms. This means severe symptoms may clear up within days only to flare up again after a few weeks. In some cases, symptoms of psoriasis may disappear entirely.
Typical symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Painful joints
- Inflamed patches of skin with silver scales or plaques
- Dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding
- Feelings of burning and soreness around patches
That said, not all patients will experience these symptoms. Some may find a few flakes on the elbow or scalp, while others may experience patches throughout the body.
Malfunctions in the immune system can happen to anyone. Although most autoimmune diseases have no known cure, practicing a healthy lifestyle will make your body stronger and less prone to infections.