AUTO- IMMUNE DISEASES
Four questions, answered.
1/ What are auto-immune diseases?
Simply put, an auto-immune disease develops when your immune system decides to attack healthy cells, mistaking them for threatening foreign cells. Depending on the disease, different organs and tissues may be affected. In the case of autoimmune arthritis, your joints become inflamed and sore.
2/ What causes them?
There are many theories about what might trigger auto-immune disease. It could be anything from bacteria or viruses to drugs or chemical and environmental pollutants. How you are affected usually boils down to your genetics. Certain people may have a predisposition to developing a particular auto-immune disease.
3/ How do you know if you have one?
Blood tests can indicate how much inflammation is in your body, and what antibodies are present. A full blood count will show if your immune system is fighting something.
4/ How do you treat them?
Drugs to treat auto-immune disease include anti-inflammatories, painkillers, immunosuppressive medicine and hormone replacement therapy. Blood transfusions may be necessary, and physical therapy can help. Giving up smoking, resting more, eating healthily, exercising and decreasing stress can also alleviate symptoms.