Autoimmune Diseases: All You Need to Know
Autoimmunity is when a person’s immune system reacts in a manner it shouldn’t and attacks the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. Any type of disease that causes its own immune system to attack its healthy counterparts is an autoimmune disease. Widely known examples include type 1 diabetes, lupus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, Addison’s disease, and many more.
It was not until the 1950s that the understanding of antibodies and autoimmune diseases started to gain traction among researchers in the medical field. The healthy human body creates antibodies as a response against invading bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In autoimmune disorders, this set of defenses goes awry and attacks the body’s own healthy cells.
Everyone has autoimmunity to some extent, as do all vertebral life forms. When the disease causes a progression from benign autoimmunity to pathogenic autoimmunity, it usually requires some type of trigger – an environmental factor of some sort or a pathogen.
Humans normally have antibodies in the blood that work to repel invaders. These are called antinuclear antibodies or ANAs. These are unusual antibodies and are very easy to detect in the blood due to their ability to bind to certain structures within the nucleus of a cell.
The ANA test is used as a screening test to detect the possible presence of an autoimmune disorder. These disorders feature an immune system that is misdirected somehow to attack a person’s body.
ANAs are found in patients whose immune system may be compromised to permit such inflammatory antibodies that work against the person’s normal cells. These are called autoantibodies, and when autoantibodies attack a person’s own body, it is known as autoimmunity. If a blood test shows the presence of ANAs, it presents the possibility that the patient has some sort of autoimmune disease.
However, just because a person’s blood shows ANAs doesn’t mean they have an autoimmune disease; ANAs can merely be the body’s reaction to an infection, whether viral or bacterial like primary pulmonary fibrosis, gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, hormonal diseases like Grave’s disease, blood disorders, cancers, skin conditions like psoriasis and rheumatic conditions in older people.
ANAs are naturally present in approximately 5% of the population who have no ill effects from them, and sometimes older patients with high ANA levels do not have an autoimmune condition.
There are more than 100 different types of autoimmune disease and it is still not known what triggers them all. Some may follow an infection, some may be triggered by environmental factors, and others present no warning condition or cause, they just simply happen.
Progress has been made in the understanding of genetic inheritance in autoimmune diseases. The biggest key is hereditary autoimmune conditions depend on there being a high number of polymorphic genes present. In small numbers, they don’t do anything but when lots of them congregate it often leads to the development of autoimmune diseases.
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On behalf of the Natural Balance team, we hope you have found this information helpful and we look forward to working with you.
If you have reason to believe you or a loved one may have an autoimmune deficiency, call Natural Balance Wellness Medical Center at (734) 929-2696 to schedule a personalized assessment or book an appointment online.