From being enchanted by ‘knights in shining armours’ during our story time as kids to getting to know about White Blood cells - our body’s very own ‘warriors’ which fights off the ‘invaders’ - infections and diseases, we got aware about ‘Auto-Immune disorders’. But what exactly are those? What causes it and how to seek treatment? How to diagnose them? No Worries, we hear all your concerns and are here to give answers to your queries, for all those who're dealing with it or simply want to make a change into someone's life!
The Root Cause -
Auto-immune diseases are caused when the body fails to distinguish between its own cells and alien bodies. This increases the intensity of the body's own mechanisms and results in the body's own defence system turning up against itself.
While the exact cause of Auto-Immune Disorders are still being researched, environmental factors like the lifestyle, diet, stress, exposure to infections, side effects of medications and hormones/genetics play a key role in influencing them. There are around 80 known Auto-Immune Disorders like Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma, Dermatomyositis to name a few. Let us dive deeper into decoding the disorders and effective measures of dealing with them.
The Symptoms -
picture courtesy - @selenagomez
Remember this 'aww' moment back in 2017 when Selene Gomez talked about her Kindey transplant and her battle with Lupus?
- Flaky, Red Ring Patches and Spots
- Scaly Purple Rash
- Fever & Fatigue
- Joint Pain - visible Stiffness and Swelling
- Skin lesions - gets affected by sun exposure
- Chest Pain
- Dry eyes
- Confusion and Memory loss
2. Scleroderma - Results in hardening and tightening of the skin. It also attacks the person’s blood vessels, internal organs and digestive tract. Other indicators are -
(Photos by Jessica Massengale)
- Swelling and Itchiness on skin
- Patches of Thickened Skin
- Red Skin blotches
- Tight skin texture
- Digestive problems like - Bloating, Diarrhoea, Constipation, difficulty in swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Increased Blood pressure
- Irregular Heart beat
We often look upto celebrities and set up beauty standards for ourselves. So much that even most of us get to know about skin 'diseases' after a popular celebrity contracts it and opens up about their journey with the disorder. Beauty doesn't have a specific skin colour, texture or condition. Auto-Immune disorders should never be a question about beauty, but health and awareness regarding recovering from it should be disseminated. Here's Kim Kardashian talking about Psoriasis-
picture courtesy - @kimkardashian
3. Psoriasis - Caused by the constant build-up of skin cells, and can develop on hands, feet, neck, scalp, face, etc. in most cases. Some of the features peculiar to Psoriasis are-
- Red Patches of skin covered with thick, silvery Scales
- Small Spots covered with Scales
- Dry, Cracked skin
- Joint pain - Stiffness and Swelling
- Itching, Burning or Soreness
- Thickened, Pitted or Ridged nails
The above mentioned symptoms can still be confused with other dysfunction in the body. The correct Diagnosis include -
- Getting a physical examination done
- Family medical history
- Blood tests, including those to detect autoantibodies
Auto-immune diseases have NO CURE. However, measures can be taken to control them, which includes
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Corticosteroids for flares of the symptoms
- Immunosuppressant drugs to obstruct body’s natural immune system
- Physical therapy to stimulate mobility
- Treating the deficiency
Auto-Immune Disorder awareness is still a matter of concern because if left undiagnosed, it can cause further damage to body organs and tissues and harm the working systems of the body resulting in serious complications and even death. Thus, it becomes necessary to talk about them and seek the right course of action.
So this Lupus Awareness Month, let’s educate ourselves about Lupus and Auto-Immune Disorders as a whole and make the world a better place!