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.
Your nerves feature a protective coating called a myelin sheath. With multiple sclerosis, your immune system attacks your myelin sheaths, which compromises nerve function.
This form of arthritis is caused when your immune system attacks the lining of your joints (your synovial membranes), which causes pain and inflammation.
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.
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.
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:
- Nutrition therapy
- Supplements or nutraceuticals
- Exercise program
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
- Lifestyle modifications
- Magnetic therapy
If you have more questions about autoimmune diseases, please contact our office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to set up an appointment.