Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is compromised and the body produces antibodies to attack its own tissues, which leads to the deterioration and/or destruction of the tissues. Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone, but majority of those affected are women, and this is probably due to the differences in the way certain genes are expressed in females, although the major cause hasn’t been confirmed.
Common symptoms surrounding this condition involves fatigue, muscle aches, and a low fever, and it can also progress and lead to inflammation. There are about 80 known autoimmune diseases, and here are just three that every woman should know about.
1. Rheumatoid arthritis
A recent study shows that nearly 4 percent of women will develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in their lifetime. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic progressive disease that causes inflammation in the joints and also results in painful deformity and immobility which is often found in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.
RA comes on quickly and doesn’t develop overtime, so it might not be easy to diagnose. It also affects both sides of the body. It can be treated with NSAIDs to help reduce swelling and pain. You can also engage in physical and occupational therapy to help improve mobility and incorporate lifestyle changes like regular exercise and proper feeding.
Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting chronic disease that changes the life cycle of skin cells, which makes them form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that may be painful. The most common type known as plaque psoriasis appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale, and may appear on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back.
This condition can be managed, if mild, with special moisturizers and shampoos. If severe, you can use a combination of topical treatments, light therapy, and medications.
3. Sjogren’s syndrome
This is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth are affected first, and this can lead to a decrease in the production of tears and saliva. Both the quantity and quality of the eye and mouth secretions are affected. The treatment depends on the part of the body affected.
Dry eyes can be treated with OTC or Rx eye drops or ointments, or you could also block the tear ducts with tiny plugs or make use of anti-inflammatory medications. Dry mouth can be easily taken care of by staying hydrated, using lip balms and some other medications that stimulate the salivary glands.
To avoid these autoimmune diseases, and more, you can try natural strategies like reducing foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats, as they tend to increase inflammation. Reducing your level of stress would also help a great deal.
Image Courtesy of: wellandgood.com.