What Are Common Autoimmune Diseases?

There are more than 80 identified autoimmune diseases that touch the lives of 24 million people in the United States — and about 4% of the world’s total population. While some autoimmune diseases are quite rare, others are more common. Collectively, these disorders represent the third most common cause of chronic illness in the US, especially among women, who are twice as likely to develop an autoimmune disorder as men.

The integrative team here at Magnolia Medical Center has extensive experience with autoimmune illnesses and we understand the hurdles when it comes to finding solutions. To give you a better idea about what we’re up against, here’s a look at autoimmune diseases and some examples of the more common disorders.

Autoimmune diseases at a glance

Autoimmune diseases are complex, and there’s still much that we don’t understand about them, such as how they develop in the first place. While we’re breaking important ground in solving the autoimmune disease puzzle, we do know that they all share one thing in common: The very system that’s supposed to protect your body — your immune system — attacks your body, instead.

Under normal circumstances, your immune system sends out cells to attack foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. When you have an autoimmune disorder, your body confuses foreign cells with its own and mistakenly attacks them.

Most common autoimmune diseases

To give you a better idea of the many ways in which an autoimmune disease can affect your health, let’s take a look at some of the more common, which include:

Type 1 diabetes

Your body attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, which prevents you from properly regulating glucose levels in your bloodstream.

Multiple sclerosis

Your nerves feature a protective coating called a myelin sheath. With multiple sclerosis, your immune system attacks your myelin sheaths, which compromises nerve function.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This form of arthritis is caused when your immune system attacks the lining of your joints (your synovial membranes), which causes pain and inflammation.

Psoriasis

This autoimmune disease occurs when your body produces too many skin cells, which leads to rashes on your skin. Psoriasis can also turn into psoriatic arthritis, which leads to pain and inflammation in your joints.

Sjögren’s syndrome

Your body features glands that lubricate your mouth and eyes. With Sjögren’s syndrome, your body attacks these glands, leaving you with dry mouth and dry eyes.

Inflammatory bowel disease

This category involves inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Grave’s disease

The thyroid gland in your neck produces hormones that control your metabolism. With Grave’s disease, your immune system attacks the gland, causing it to produce too many hormones, which can leave you with a rapid heartbeat, overactive sweat glands, intolerance to heat, and weight loss.

Tackling autoimmune diseases

The above list is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a better idea about the many ways in which an autoimmune disease can wreak havoc on your health.

If we suspect you have an autoimmune disorder, we thoroughly analyze your health, your family history, and your environment, which can help us devise a treatment plan. 

Each treatment plan is different, but we prefer to take a multi-pronged approach to immune disorders that includes one or more of the following:

If you have more questions about autoimmune diseases, please contact our office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to set up an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Understanding Functional Medicine

If there’s one thing that modern medicine is good at, it’s managing the symptoms of illness and disease. Through functional medicine, however, we take a more patient-focused approach that focuses on the underlying cause.

The Link Between Your Metabolism and Your Thyroid

You may not give much thought to your thyroid until your body undergoes some significant changes. Here’s a look at the very important role your thyroid hormones play in your health, including your all-important metabolism.

Five Signs That Your Back May Need Some Help

It’s easy to underestimate the effect that a problem in your back can have on your daily life. Making matters worse, symptoms can be both local and in other areas of your body. Here are five signs that your back may be in trouble.

What's Making Your Head Hurt?

The International Headache Society has identified more than 150 different types of headaches, and the odds are good that you’ve had one or more. If your head pain is a common occurrence, here’s a look at what might be behind the problem.

5 Tips for Combatting Knee Pain

There are few things that can hobble you like knee pain. If you’d rather not wince with every step, there are several ways that you can keep your knees functioning optimally, and we explore five of them here.

Recognizing the Signs of Neuropathy

Some 20 million people in the United States suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is best treated in its earlier stages. To help prevent irreparable nerve damage, here are the signs you should look out for.