What is autoimmune disease?

With Autoimmune issues on the rise today, people are more and more concerned with prevention and how to protect themselves.

What is an Autoimmune condition?

Whenever the body starts attacking its own tissue and cells, we characterize this as autoimmune. Some of the most common autoimmune conditions are hypothyroidism, gastro-intestinal issues, arthritis and many more. Autoimmune conditions are categorized by the organ they attack and are not currently being treated as an attack on the whole immune system.

Here are a small sample list of autoimmune diseases:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sjogren’s arthritis
  •  Lupus
  • Celiac Disease
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Vasculitis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis
  • Type 1 Diabetes

What causes Autoimmune conditions?

As a growing number of conditions falls under the autoimmune category, we wonder the possible causes. Some are more likely to have auto-immunity in their families, some from toxins, more from poor diet (weight can play a factor), smoking, drug use (including prescription), severe or chronic stress and hormonal imbalances. There are more than 80 classified autoimmune diseases and they can be difficult to determine where they come from and which one you have.

What are the most common symptoms of Autoimmune disease?

  • Fatigue
  • Joint Pain
  • Swelling
  • Skin problems (like eczema)
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Recurring Fevers
  • Swollen Glands

If these symptoms sound vague and like the symptoms of a lot of different diseases, you would be right and this makes diagnosis so difficult.

What testing is done?

Doctor’s start with laboratory testing to determine which type or category of disease a patient has and may order the following tests:

  • Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA)
  • Autoantibodies (thyroid or other organ based)
  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
  • C-reactive Protein (CRP) Test
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
  • Complement Test C1, C1q, C2, C3, C4, CH50, CH100, Total Complement

How is it treated?

Autoimmune conditions are treated in several ways such as diet, exercise, nutraceuticals, hormones, anti-inflammatories and sometimes steroids if the attack is severe enough. Most people try and use natural alternatives and only steroids when more severe attacks occur. Below is a list of treatments including Dr. Walker’s favorite functional medicine strategies:

  • Diet: Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) similar to paleo but much stricter (see a basic list on our website link)
  • Exercise: Low impact exercise such as yoga, biking, swimming and walking with mild weight lifting being done as ability allows
  • Nutraceuticals: Vitamin A and D, Liposomal Glutathione, Short-chain Fatty acids, Turmeric, Boswellia, L-Glutamine, essential minerals (some of Dr. Walker’s list)
  • Steroids and autoimmune suppressants: in more severe cases: Hormones, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormone, melatonin to help balance the system.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Ibuprofen and Naproxen

If you are struggling with what you think may be autoimmune don’t suffer alone, there are lots of health care professionals to help you and at our office we work together with your specialist to make sure you are uniting both functional medicine and Western care to have the best and healthiest you possible. We don’t want the feeling of sickness to prevent you from enjoying life!

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