What You Need to Know About Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease is a disorder that arises from an unusual immune response of the body against healthy body tissue.  Essentially, it is the body mistakenly attacking and destroying itself.  This may be restricted to certain organs or involve a particular tissue.  Immunosuppressants, medications that decreases the immune response, are typically the treatment for the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.  Some examples of autoimmune diseases that may sound familiar are Celiac disease, thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

When your immune system is not working the way it should, as in the case of autoimmune disease, it starts attacking healthy body tissues which it would normally ignore. There are many autoimmune diseases, all with their own specific pathways and symptoms, which can make this group of illnesses particularly difficult to treat.  The cause behind these may be bacterial or viral, perhaps caused by our environment, or possibly even toxins in the food we consume. Typically, the symptoms of each of these conditions is treated rather than the underlying cause.

In the past, when there were limited treatment methods for autoimmune diseases, steroids were used to mitigate and treat symptoms.  Steroids as a treatment are not necessarily effective, as they can be thought of as a temporary fix.  Steroids will reduce the amount of inflammation in the body and take care of the symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders, but not the disease itself. Newer therapies using your own immune system to fight off any immune deficiencies are currently in development, which provides hope that a more permanent solution exists aside from steroids.

In the meantime, is it possible to treat these disorders from the inside out, rather than looking for steroids or some type of medication to treat the symptoms?  Making changes to what we put in our body and the food we consume could be a better answer for those suffering from autoimmune disease. Staying away from trans-fat, dairy, gluten, sugar, red meat, processed foods, fast foods, and fried food which can have adverse effects on the body can be a great help, depending on the autoimmune disease which you are suffering from. Sticking to healthy vegetables and fruits is key, and simple things like adding Turmeric to your diet can help reduce inflammation. Switching to olive oil and getting the right amount of Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the symptoms and lessen the likelihood of development of autoimmune disease. Another alternative treatment which has been documented is the use of probiotic supplements, whose goal is to prevent the immune cells from attacking your own body.

If you believe you may be suffering from an autoimmune disorder, it is imperative to see your doctor to evaluate your condition. Be mindful that steroids are not necessarily a lasting answer, as this treatment will only mask the condition. You first need to identify the underlying problem, and attempt to figure out the cause of your autoimmune response.  If the cause is environmental or lifestyle related, changing daily habits could be the answer you are looking for.

A life style change can help decrease the possibility of you getting an auto-immune disease or to help minimize your symptoms. Ultimately, you should not make drastic changes all at once. Map out a plan with your physician and take on small changes at a time.  Keeping this in mind will lead to a healthier lifestyle that will lead to a healthier you.

David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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