An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks their own body tissues or organs, viewing them as foreign, needing to be attacked or destroyed. The immune system is a collection of special cells and chemicals that fight infection-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. Research shows that autoimmune conditions is the third most common health complaint following cancer and heart disease - yet it gets very little public awareness. If you have an autoimmune condition it is important to support your body so you can return to health.
There are over 100 autoimmune disorders and some of the most common ones are
- Addison’s disease (adrenal)
- Autoimmune hepatitis (liver)
- Coeliac disease (gastrointestinal tract)
- Crohn’s disease (gastrointestinal tract)
- Diabetes Mellitis Type 1a (pancreas)
- Grave’s disease (thyroid)
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (nervous system)
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (thyroid)
- Multiple sclerosis (nervous system)
- Pernicious anaemia (stomach)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (liver)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (joints)
- Sclerosing cholangitis (liver)
- Myasthenia gravis (nerves, muscles)
- Ulcerative colitis (gastrointestinal tract)
Autoimmune disease goes through 3 stages -
- Stage one is silent autoimmunity
- Stage two is reactive autoimmunity
- Stage there is autoimmune disease
Stage one or silent autoimmunity is the start of the autoimmune reaction where the immune system is attacking body tissue but does not cause significant loss of tissue or symptoms. Elevated tissue antibodies are found in the blood at this stage, however the person may not have any symptoms and so no checking is done. This can occur years before actual diagnosis.
In stage 2 the reactions have progressed to the point that enough tissue has been destroyed that signs and symptoms are noticeable. The condition has not advanced to the stage where it can be classified as a disease. Eg you have thyroid antibodies however when they test your thyroid function it appears normal. You are tired, putting on weight, and cold – however because your hormones are normal you are told that nothing can be done at this stage. You may be complaining of digestive issues, diarrhoea, brain fog and a skin rash and be brushed off as irritable bowel and never be tested for Coeliac disease because you don’t fit the classic picture or your doctor didn’t think you had it – You can not tell from looking at a person whether they have an autoimmune disease or not. In this situation you are just waiting for enough destruction to happen to your organs so that you get classified with a disease.
The last stage of autoimmunity your symptoms and loss of function are significant. It is now easily seen on tests and imaging such as MRI. It can take up to 70% or more damage to tissue for it to show up on a MRI – e.g. if looking at MS and the myelin sheath if 40% destruction has occurred the MRI will look normal. The trouble is an extensive amount of damage has been done by the time the disease is diagnosed.
If you have been tested and identified as having an autoimmune disorder, find out what you can do to help yourself - Once you have one autoimmune disease you have a 50% chance of getting a second within 7 years - break that cycle now with Caroline’s help. Book your appointment today.