Have you ever taken time to consider how lucky you are to have a properly functioning immune system? When it works we probably don’t even think about it.
For people who have disorders of the immune system it can be frustrating and stressful. The process of evaluating non-specific symptoms combined with intermittent, vague discomforts can sometimes last for years. For some, there is no specific diagnosis.
Every day that you are healthy is another day your immune system has successfully completed its job.
The job of our immune system is to protect us from disease and infection. When it is functioning correctly it helps our healthy cells by conducting surveillance for harmful organisms and destructive cells in our body.
A healthy immune system is able to tell the difference between the healthy cells of the body and cells that cause harm to the body, usually viruses, bacteria or cancer cells.
When the immune system is not operating correctly, it can create havoc in the body that is far worse than any acute infection.
When it is not operating correctly the immune system is not able to distinguish between it’s cells and foreign cells and it attacks the healthy cells.
This general situation is called an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the body, creating disease processes in the body.
Autoimmune diseases are far more prevalent in women than in men. There is a genetic component which puts African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American women at higher risk for certain autoimmune diseases than women from other cultures.
They have currently identified over 80 different autoimmune diseases. Examples of autoimmune diseases are multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, pernicious anemia, Addison's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren syndrome, lupus erythematosus, Grave's disease and celiac disease.
Diagnosing these diseases can be difficult because the symptoms may start out as simple as being tired, feeling muscle aches and low fever.
It is important to start to keep track of these symptoms and share them with your doctor.
If they brush off the symptoms but you know something is wrong do not be afraid to get another opinion. Getting the right diagnosis is the first step to finding the best treatment.
Trust yourself when you know something is not right and talk to your doctor about getting tested for autoimmune conditions, even if you have to see a specialist.
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