The immune system is designed to protect your body’s healthy tissues by attacking any viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens that enter your body. Simply put, it is what prevents you from getting sick, and what helps you recover if you do fall ill. However, autoimmune diseases are different. They cause your immune system to get confused and attack the healthy cells in your body. If left untreated, serious medical issues may occur.
Autoimmune diseases are among the most common diseases that exist today. There are hundreds of autoimmune illnesses and they are more prevalent in women than men. Symptoms vary widely among the diseases, many of which have their own unique symptoms, but many also share similar symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, cognitive changes, or unexplained weight gain or loss. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases can affect any system in the body, making them difficult to diagnosis.
When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (or leaky), large protein molecules can escape into the bloodstream, where the body mounts an immune response and attacks them. This immune response affects not only the gut but other organs and tissues. This starts a chain reaction causing low-grade chronic inflammation. As the leakiness of the gut worsens, the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease is increased.
The most common autoimmune diseases include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves Disease, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis, and skin conditions like Eczema or Psoriasis. Because the symptoms of an autoimmune disease may be similar to those of other medical conditions, it is important to see your doctor for an official diagnosis and to learn about your treatment options.