Navigating Life with an Autoimmune Disease
By Causenta Wellness
Autoimmune disease affects millions of Americans — 23.5 million in fact! Nearly 80 percent of individuals with these conditions are women. But what exactly is an autoimmune disease and how can you know if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to one?
By definition, an autoimmune condition is one in which the body’s natural defense system, aka the immune system, is unable to tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, which causes the body to mistakenly attack normal, healthy cells. These diseases can affect a myriad of systems within the body and have varied symptoms because of that.
When To See A Doctor
Individuals who experience abdominal pain or digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain and swelling, recurring fever, skin problems, or swollen glands may want to see a physician to be tested for an autoimmune disease as these are common symptoms. These signs can also be attributed to other more common health concerns, so diagnosis of an autoimmune condition can often be difficult.
Traditional treatments usually aim to limit or suppress immune system function in order to decrease the number of harmful antibodies the body produces. The cause or trigger of these conditions is widely unknown, but there are risk factors to consider including obesity, smoking, family history, and taking certain medications.
Common Autoimmune Diseases
There are approximately 80 diseases that fall into this broad category and they include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease: This category of health conditions, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the lining of the intestines. Individuals with IBD experience diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent bowel movements, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss.
- Lupus: This autoimmune disease causes inflammation throughout the body that damages the skin, joints, and organs especially the blood and kidneys. The cause is unknown and most often occurs in women.
- Multiple sclerosis: Patients with MS have common symptoms that include pain, blindness, weakness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms. It is caused by the immune system attacking the nervous system and can be treated with medications that suppress the immune system. There are other autoimmune diseases that affect the nervous system as well; they include myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).
- Psoriasis: Characterized by overactive T-cells that collect in the skin, which are a type of immune cell, psoriasis presents as a skin condition but is actually an autoimmune disease. The immune system malfunction causes skin cells to reproduce more rapidly than they should resulting in the body developing plaque-like scales on the skin.
- Psoriatic arthritis: Related to psoriasis, it is a type of arthritis related to the autoimmune conditions. Patients with psoriatic arthritis experience joint pain and inflammation especially in the small joints of the toes and fingers.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Caused by the immune system producing harmful antibodies that attack the lining between the joints, this form of arthritis can cause permanent joint damage if left untreated. Symptoms of this autoimmune disease include swelling, pain, and inflammation in the joints.
- Thyroid diseases: Conditions known as Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the most common forms of autoimmune thyroid disease. The difference between the two is that one (Grave’s) speeds up the production of thyroid hormone and the other (Hashimoto’s) slows it down. Individuals with hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease often experience weight loss, nervousness, irritability, rapid heart rate, weakness, brittle hair, and bulging of the eyes. On the other hand, those with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s have symptoms that include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold.
Treatment Options for Autoimmune Diseases
While there is no cure for autoimmune diseases, treatment options do help decrease the negative side effects of the various conditions for many people. The most traditional treatment option is medication.
These drugs are designed to control the overactive immune response in the body, which in turn, lowers inflammation and/or reduces pain. Common medications used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases include:
- Immune-suppressing drugs, which slow the activity of the immune system thus lessening the effects of the autoimmune condition
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn)
You can also look into treatments for your specific autoimmune disease’s symptoms for relief and a better quality of life.
- Fatigue: If you are constantly tired and have trouble completing normal tasks, you may want to consider trying a state-of-art technology assisted treatment. The Halo is a non-invasive device available at Causenta that uses pulse electromagnetic field energy at pico-tesla strengths throughout the body to relax the nervous system and combat symptoms related to chronic stress and fatigue.
- Pain: There are several tools that can be used to decrease inflammation in the joints and muscles, limiting pain for patients dealing with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The knowledgeable team at Causenta can help you determine which of our technologies might work best for your specific needs.
- Skin rashes: Various topical medications or ointments can be employed to alleviate skin rashes and limit the itching and redness associated with these autoimmune condition side effects.
Explore Other Contributing Factors
A number of other factors should also be explored to help people with autoimmune diseases feel better day-to-day.
“When patients come to Causenta for autoimmune disease treatment, we always conduct a full work-up, so we really understand everything that is going on with them,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder & CEO of Causenta.
“Hidden infections, food allergies, and heavy metal toxicity can be underlying issues associated with autoimmune disease, and if we can deal with that, we can help the patient feel better quickly with less medication.”
Take Steps to Get Healthy
As with any health concern, Incledon recommends that patients battling autoimmune diseases take care of their general health and wellness.
This includes getting a proper amount of sleep each night and regular exercise. Incledon is also an advocate for eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables paired with low-fat proteins and other foods that are low on the glycemic index.
“For patients with autoimmune conditions this is even more important,” says Incledon. “A large percentage of the immune system is basically found in your gut, so if you eat whole foods that agree with your gastrointestinal system, it can help create balance in your immune system.”
If you are battling an autoimmune condition and want to explore a customized treatment plan to help you feel better with less medication, contact our team today. During your 30-minute consultation, we will get to know more about your concerns and help get you on the path to living your best life.