An autoimmune disease is a medical condition in which the body stops distinguishing between its native and foreign cells. There’s been an uptick in discussions in recent years among medical professionals about the more than 80 autoimmune diseases.
Some common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders and lupus. Women are most affected by these conditions, and each disease can affect patients in different ways.
Symptoms that individuals with autoimmune diseases endure
No two patients experience exactly the same symptoms. Various factors, including a person’s health, genetics, and environment, may impact the symptoms a patient develops.
Individuals with autoimmune diseases essentially experience an overactive immune system, which often results in them feeling fatigued, having digestive issues or abdominal discomfort, swollen glands, recurring fever, and joint swelling and pain.
Those with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus often experience joint pain. Psoriasis can leave someone with scaly patches on their skin. A thyroid condition such as Grave’s disease may cause a patient to produce too much or little of certain hormones. Many people with autoimmune disorders experience organ, joint and skin damage.
Increased risk factors for autoimmune diseases
Individuals who smoke are more likely to receive a multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism or lupus diagnosis than those who don’t. Taking blood pressure medications and some antibiotics can also increase a person’s risk for developing an autoimmune disease.
Overweight and obese individuals have a stronger likelihood of developing psoriatic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis than someone who’s average weight. The increase in fatty tissue and excess weight that sits on a heavier person’s joints puts them at a higher risk for inflammation in certain parts of their bodies.
In many cases, however, the cause of autoimmune disorders may simply be genetic — or unknown. That’s what can make them so frustrating for patients. You can do everything right and still develop an autoimmune condition.
Your options if you have a debilitating autoimmune disease
Some individuals can manage their autoimmune symptoms by taking medications or therapies or by making lifestyle changes. Others have such severe symptoms that they’re unable to remain gainfully employed.
You may find it helpful to discuss your situation with a Social Security Disability attorney if your symptoms are particularly debilitating. Your Grand Rapids lawyer may advise you of how applying for disability benefits here in Michigan could help you afford your necessities, given how you’re unable to work.