What is Autoimmune Disease?
Each human body has an immune system, whose purpose is to protect the body from germs, bacteria, viruses and more, and to keep us healthy. A properly functioning immune system is able to detect the difference between self (what is supposed to be present in the body) and non-self (what is foreign). However, when the immune system begins to malfunction, it produces autoantibodies which begin to attack perfectly healthy cells because it believes them to be a danger. This causes the condition we know as autoimmune disease - auto, meaning “oneself” and immune – producing antibodies or immunity against oneself.
Autoimmune Diseases start when a cell is perceived as dangerous by the immune system. This occurs when its shape changes so that it becomes unrecognizable as a regular cell. There are various factors which contribute to the change in a cell’s shape and these may include the presence of bacteria or virus, exposure to toxins, both chemical and environmental and an overuse of drugs. Some of the culprits believed to trigger an autoimmune response include drugs, silica exposure, gluten, smoking and mercury.
Common Autoimmune Diseases and their Symptoms
The symptoms of autoimmune disease are many and varied and largely depend on which part of the body is being attacked by the immune system.
- Alopecia areata - the immune system attacks hair follicles causing patchy hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body.
- Autoimmune hepatitis – the immune system attacks liver cells and causes symptoms of fatigue, yellowing of the skin and an enlarged liver.
- Celiac disease - a disease in which people can't tolerate gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye, and barley. Can result in abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue and diarrhea.
- Diabetes Type 1 – a disease in which the immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, so it is no longer produced. Early signs are constant thirst, frequent urination and weight loss.
- Graves’ disease – occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing it to make too much thyroid hormone, resulting in insomnia, weight loss and muscle weakness.
- Guillain-Barre syndrome - The immune system attacks the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord with the rest of the body. Can result in muscle weakness, tingling and in some cases, paralysis.
- Hashimoto's disease - causes the thyroid to not make enough thyroid hormone. Resulting in weight gain, fatigue and sensitivity to cold.
- Hemolytic anemia – the immune system destroys red blood cells causing fatigue, yellowing skin and shortness of breath.
- Inflammatory bowel disease – includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis which are caused when the immune system attacks the lining of the intestines resulting in abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and diarrhea.
- Multiple Sclerosis - the immune system attacks the nerve cells causing muscle weakness, poor coordination, blindness and muscle spasms.
- Psoriasis - a skin condition produced by the immune system making skin cells reproduce too rapidly, causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
- Rheumatoid arthritis - antibodies attach to the linings of joints and surrounding tissues, resulting in pain and inflammation.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus - the antibodies attach to tissues throughout the body and can affect skin, blood cells, nerves, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
- Scleroderma - the connective tissue is compromised, causing changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.
- Sjögren’s syndrome - destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs.
Some people experience more than one autoimmune disease at any given time and often the symptoms may come and go, varying from severe to mild. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) estimates that up to 50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune disease and 75 percent of those affected are women.
Treating Autoimmune Disease
In conventional medicine, tests are usually performed to determine if the patient has an autoimmune disease. These tests may include autoantibody tests which look for specific antibodies to your own tissues; antinuclear antibody tests which looks for antinuclear antibodies which attack the nuclei of cells in your body; a complete blood count which measures the numbers of red and white cells in your blood; a C-reactive protein (CRP) test elevated CRP is an indication of inflammation throughout your body and erythrocyte sedimentation rate which indirectly measures how much inflammation is in your body.
Very few people visit their doctor because they believe they have an autoimmune disease per se, but they are more likely to go with unexplained symptoms which need addressing. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, when a patient presents with symptoms which may be linked to autoimmunity, a functional evaluation will be performed by the practitioner, to help to determine whether autoimmune disease is the cause.
Natural Autoimmune Disease Treatment
Unlike many conditions which are treated by a practitioner who specializes in that particular field, such as a dermatologist or rheumatologist, the title of “autoimmunologist” does not yet exist. Therefore, patients seeking autoimmune disease treatment usually consult their regular doctor. Some of the treatments offered in conventional medicine may include prescription drugs for pain, fatigue or lack of sleep, hormone replacement, anti-inflammatory medication and immunosuppressive medication.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the very first steps in treating autoimmune diseases is to immunize the patient to their own blood. In this simple & effective procedure, a small amount of a patient’s blood is taken and mixed with a homeopathic remedy. This combination is then delivered back into the patient. This has the effect of re-programming the patient’s immune system and in many cases, begins the process of improving their symptoms toward recovery. This is the first step in most autoimmune treatments but some patients might need additional treatments to address other underlying health & body conditions which may have set the stage for an autoimmune condition to develop.
Florida’s Top Autoimmune Disease Clinic
LifeWorks Wellness Center is considered by many to be Florida’s top autoimmune disease clinic and patients travel from all over the country to seek our specialized treatments. That is because the autoimmune disease treatment at our Tampa Bay clinic exceeds anything available to them where they live.
Our autoimmune disease treatments have helped many patients regain their health and we would love to help you, too.
To become a patient, or for more information, feel free to call our New Patient Coordinator at (727) 466-6789 or simply submit an online web form with your request.
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient's medical history and other factors.