Unavoidable, but treatable.
The National Stem Cell Foundation in the U.S states that nearly 4% of the world’s population is affected by one of more than 80 different autoimmune diseases. You might have heard of the more common ones including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
These occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the human body. Although many autoimmune diseases are rare, the National Institutes for Health (NIH) estimates that they collectively affect between 5% and 8% percent of the U.S. population. Read on to learn more about these commonly known autoimmune diseases below.
Type 1 Diabetes
Unlike type 2 diabetes, one cannot prevent type 1 diabetes by making diet or lifestyle changes. The immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of type 1 diabetes patients. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels, and organs like the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Type 1 diabetes conditions can be managed with daily insulin injections to balance out the number of carbohydrates they eat. Monitoring diet and exercise levels also help reduce symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the joints. This causes pain and swelling in the hands and feet. The immune system attacks the joints and causes redness, warmth, soreness, and stiffness in the joints. What causes inflammation of the joints can also cause a fever. RA also increases metabolic rate, which can also cause a fever. Fevers under 38°C aren’t considered a cause for alarm. Just like other autoimmune disorders, treatment for this is centered on managing pain and minimizing bone erosion and joint damage.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes conditions that cause inflammation in the lining of the intestinal wall. Crohn’s disease can inflame any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, while Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the colon and rectum. Symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, mouth ulcers, painful or difficult bowel movements, rectal bleeding, fever, weight loss, and fatigue. There is currently no cure for it but patients can improve their symptoms and quality of life by changing their eating habits.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) damages the myelin sheath that protects the nerves. The damage slows the transmission speed of messages between your brain and spinal cord to and from the rest of your body. The symptoms include paralysis, tremors, weakness in the extremities, difficulty with coordination, balance, speaking, and walking. It also causes numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Around 50% of MS sufferers will need an aide to walk within 15 years after the disease starts. Some medications may help reduce the symptoms, but there is no cure for MS.
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