In case you missed it, we spent the first part of our autoimmune disease blogs to learn more about what they are and the many forms they take. In part two, we want to cover how to identify these diseases, when to seek medical attention and treatments.
In many cases, the exact cause of these conditions remains unknown; however, experts speculate that factors such as genetics and environmental triggers may be involved. It’s important to note that while autoimmune disorders can make life much more difficult than it should be, they can often be managed with a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications.
Signs That You May Have an Autoimmune Disease
The signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary greatly depending on which type of disease it is. Some of the most common symptoms include
- joint pain
- muscle aches
- skin rashes
- abdominal pain
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- weight loss
- hair loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor so they can properly diagnose your condition.
Diagnosing Autoimmune Diseases
There are several tests that doctors use to diagnose autoimmune diseases. These include:
- blood tests
- imaging scans (such as X-rays or MRI scans)
- biopsies (removing a small piece of tissue for testing)
- skin tests
- genetic testing
Even monitored dietary changes and lifestyle modifications may be part of the diagnosis process. A doctor will be able to determine which tests are best for your situation. Only then will they proceed with any kind of treatment plan. It's also important to note that autoimmune diseases don't always have definitive diagnostic criteria, so multiple tests may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis.
Treatments For Autoimmune Diseases?
Unfortunately, there are no cures for most autoimmune diseases. However, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Medication plays an important role in treating autoimmune diseases. There are two common types of medication used when treating patients.
Immunosuppressants act by reducing the activity of the immune system, decreasing inflammation and lowering activity in autoimmune diseases. Corticosteroids, meanwhile, work to reduce swelling associated with inflammation. They can be taken intravenously as well as orally, allowing for greater flexibility in dosing and administration. This plan of action is particularly helpful when intractable symptoms are present. They can also help prevent relapse or flare-ups from happening.
There are risks, however, to these types of treatments. Due to their immunosuppressive nature, they may increase a patient's risk for infections. Some may need to be monitored regularly due to potential adverse effects.
It's important for patients to weigh these risks with their doctor and decide the best course of treatment.
Dietary changes are often suggested to treat autoimmune diseases. Doctors understand that food can have a substantial impact on the body's inflammation level. Of course, everyone’s body reacts different to dietary changes. However, there is a common dietary approach when it comes to treating autoimmune diseases. It includes following an anti-inflammatory diet.
This type of diet focuses on eliminating foods that may increase inflammation in the body such as processed and refined foods and opts instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, nuts, legumes and weeds. Eating healthy fats like olive oil and fatty fish can also help reduce inflammation. Making these changes might be slow going at first but with patients sticking to it over time, they'll be able to reap the benefits of improved health due to lowered levels of inflammation.
Exciting Research & Studies
There’s a lot of research constantly being done on how best to treat autoimmune diseases. New medications are constantly being developed that have fewer side effects than traditional immunosuppressants while still providing relief for patients suffering from these conditions. Additionally, scientists have been studying dietary interventions such as ketogenic diets which could potentially help reduce inflammation associated with certain types of autoimmune disorders. Finally, researchers have discovered new gene mutations associated with different autoimmune diseases which could lead to better diagnoses in the future.
While there currently is no cure for most types of autoimmune disorders, treatments are available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life dramatically. Additionally, there has been much exciting research happening over recent years regarding potential cures or preventive measures for these conditions.
If you think you might be suffering from an auto immune disorder, it's important that you see your doctor right away so they can properly diagnose your condition and get you started on appropriate treatment plans right away. With all this exciting new research happening every day we remain hopeful that one day soon we will finally find a cure!