Friday, April 1, 2022

Autoimmune Conditions: What You Need To Know

Being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition can be a shock to anyone, not least because even those of us who are constantly worried about getting ill tend to focus more on bigger, more catastrophic diagnoses. While issues such as cancer and heart disease certainly merit our full concern, none of this should diminish the seriousness with which we treat autoimmune diseases, which can be hugely complicated to deal with. If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing autoimmune symptoms, it’s worth looking deeper into the matter - so let’s have a look at what you need to know about such conditions.

What is an autoimmune condition?

This is a complex question in and of itself. Autoimmune conditions are still not fully understood, but what we do know is that these are conditions in which our bodies’ immune systems attack healthy tissue by mistake. Some examples are Addison’s disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What causes autoimmune conditions?

This is unclear, but the leading theory is that rogue organisms - possibly bacteria - change the immune system in a way which causes it to mistake healthy tissue for diseased tissue. As a result, our bodies essentially attack themselves.

What are the signs of autoimmune conditions?

It very much depends upon the condition that you have, but telltale signs include fatigue, rashes, joint pain and an unexplained general feeling of illness. Other signs include seemingly isolated instances of decay, such as damage to the teeth and frequent infections.

How do you treat an autoimmune condition?

Treatment can be a long-winded process of exclusion, as the exact nature of the condition may not be immediately clear even after medical testing. Usually, the principal treatment will be to supplement a compound that the body is not making properly due to the condition - which may be vitamin B12, insulin or thyroid hormone among others. Until the exact condition is known, treating the peripheral symptoms is important: antibiotics will fight infections, physical therapy will help with pain and porcelain veneers are durable and strong weapons to mitigate tooth decay. Autoimmune conditions can rarely be cured, but the symptoms may be controlled to a great extent.

What is the prognosis for autoimmune conditions?

If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, you will probably have it for life. While this sounds like a stark warning, it is important to know that the condition itself is almost never fatal, and you can expect to have the same lifespan as someone without the condition. The question of quality of life is more important - and as long as your condition is treated and the symptoms managed, there is no reason that your life need be greatly impaired. The issue of vital importance is that you get to the bottom of what’s causing your illness, and have the correct treatment. This may take time, but it’s worth it.

If you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, it’s natural to be worried, but bear in mind that celebrities such as Venus Williams, Missy Elliot and Selena Gomez have all had varying diagnoses and thrived at the top of their industries afterwards. These are illnesses to take seriously, but they don’t need to be considered catastrophic if you look after yourself well.


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