Autoimmune disorders occur when the human body fails to distinguish foreign cells from its cells, which causes the immune system to destroy healthy cells inside the body as if it were attacking foreign cells. Problems that weaken the immune system are on the rise, with the AARDA stating that 50 million Americans suffer from an adverse autoimmune condition. Autoimmune ailments run the gamut from mild joint pain to severe thyroid and obsessive-compulsive problems.
The issue with autoimmune disorders is that they aren’t the easiest diseases to diagnose. Most individuals aren’t even aware that they’ve become a victim of an autoimmune condition while it is in the early stages. Below are a few reasons why diagnosing autoimmunity problems can be a challenge:
- Autoimmune disease symptoms fluctuate and can appear and disappear in varying severities
- In most instances, patients suffer from more than one autoimmune disorder
- In early stages, an autoimmune disorder is characterized by symptoms like headaches, joint pain, and sometimes hair loss which aren’t only specific to autoimmunity issues and are common symptoms of many other problems.
How to Find Out If You Have an Autoimmune Disease
Fortunately, the following procedures can be used to gauge the autoimmunity of an individual:
1. Laboratory Tests
Patients often undergo a lupus test, a psoriasis test, and other tests for autoimmune conditions to get an underlying autoimmunity problem diagnosed. Because symptoms can often impersonate those of other healthcare problems, healthcare practitioners want to ensure they’re diagnosing an autoimmune disorder and not another condition. Also, lab tests help identify a baseline against which they can predict whether a patient’s autoimmune disorder is more or less likely to become chronic in the future.
2. Organ function test
Sometimes an autoimmune disease will cause malfunctions in organs like the liver and kidneys. Organ function tests are conducted to evaluate if these organs are functioning at an optimal level to rule out any diseases related to the body’s autoimmune system. However, organ function tests aren’t as common as lab tests as they assume that damage has already been caused to the organs to be able to identify an autoimmune disorder.
3. Self Conducted at Home Test
Individuals can try standing with their feet close together and then close their eyes. They should feel be able to balance with their eyes shut. If they begin to tip over, that could be a sign of a chronic issue caused by an autoimmune disorder. Eyes inform where a person is in space, so the individual relies on muscle and joint signals when their eyes are shut. If the individual doesn’t fall over, his/her symptoms could be a sign of something less severe.
4. CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide) and RF (rheumatoid factor) test
Rheumatoid factor is an autoantibody that is known to respond to several classes of immunoglobulin. It plays a crucial role in identifying RA (rheumatoid arthritis) in patients. Those who test positive are most likely to be suffering from progressive arthritis with severe loss of mobility in joints and also extra-articular conditions, including vasculitis. Also, in the serum, the existence of autoantibodies alongside anti-CCP (cyclic citrullinated peptide) has been found to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis in most patients correctly.
What to Do About Autoimmune Disorders
Treatment starts once a proper diagnosis has been made about the type of disease an individual has. Initial treatment often includes a dose of immunosuppressants. These drugs weaken the immune system with the aim of disabling its ability to attack healthy body tissue.
While chronic autoimmune disorders require patients to take medication in high doses, mild symptoms can be reversed with a healthy gut lining. Sufferers will need to eliminate the common foods that result in inflammation such as cupcakes, donuts, wheat biscuits, etc. As they follow a diet without these trigger foods, the body’s inflammation level goes down which kick starts the autoimmune repair process.
Simultaneously, patients should increase the consumption of nutrients that help the immune system to function optimally. These include vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, DHA and EPA, and selenium. It’s also a good idea to consider foods that contribute to gut microbiotas’ health. For instance, fermentable foods like avocados and mushrooms are known to contain fermentable fibers that feed the healthy bacteria inside the gut.
However, even dietary changes may fail to help if patients don’t relax their digestive systems. Hence, it’s important to go back to the basics of avoiding junk items, eating leafy greens, and chewing food until it’s broken down into tiny particles. Additionally, consuming smaller meals throughout the day helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which ensures that no more strain is placed on the immune system.
Another way to kick off your autoimmune healing journey is by reducing the toxic burden on your body. When it comes to minimizing toxicity, we recommend the following two measures: detoxification and prevention. Filter your drinking water, eat organic foods, and use toxin-free shampoo and skin-care items. Moreover, add superfoods that can increase the uptake of micronutrients in your bloodstream to your diet.
It’s also worth mentioning that individuals with an autoimmune condition require proper rest. A good night’s sleep can help them recover from several illnesses, and experience renewed energy in the central nervous system. Ample sleep is crucial for maintaining and protecting the natural defenses of the body and preventing the immune system from getting caught in a state of exhaustion. Lying down in a comfortable room with the lights off can avoid frequent enervation and fatigue.
It is also beneficial to get a healthy supply of natural Vitamin D. The sun’s UV rays not only play a significant role in enhancing the immune system’s natural defenses but also improves symptoms of specific disorders like psoriasis, a condition identified by joint and skin inflammation. However, specialists advise that individuals wear sunscreen to prevent the UV rays from damaging unaffected areas.
Victims of autoimmune disorders are also recommended to reduce stress via prayer, exercise, meditation, or any other activity they enjoy. Keeping stress at bay plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation, giving a much-needed break to the immune system so that it can heal itself.
If you think you might be dealing with an autoimmune disease, contact your doctor. They can make sure you get a proper diagnosis and set you up with a treatment plan. You’ll probably recognize a lot of it from this article!