Somewhere between 15 and 24 million Americans have autoimmune disorders. The exact number is hard to pin down because there are 80-100 different autoimmune diseases. The statistics that are reported depend on which diseases were included in the tally.
But there’s one fact that everyone agrees on: Women are more affected than men. No matter how many people are diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, at least 78% are women.
Autoimmune disorders are known for causing generic symptoms and affecting many different body systems, which makes them hard to diagnose.
If you have persistent general symptoms, such as lethargy, a skin rash, or feeling achy, the best step you can take for your health is to schedule an appointment with Behnam Khaleghi, MD, at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center. As a highly qualified rheumatology specialist, he can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you have an autoimmune disorder.
If you have any questions about your symptoms, call one of the offices in Orange or Laguna Hills, California. In the meantime, here’s the information you need to know about autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune disease defined
Your immune system has the vital role of keeping you healthy. To do its job, the immune system relies on a vast network of white blood cells and proteins to identify and destroy dangerous substances such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other foreign bodies.
When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system overreacts and tags one or more parts of your own body as harmful. Then it mounts an immune response against those tissues, damaging healthy structures and causing ongoing inflammation.
Common autoimmune disorders
Autoimmune disorders encompass a diverse group of diseases that may affect one or more parts of your body, including your joints, muscles, skin, blood vessels, lungs, kidney, liver, and digestive tract.
Chances are you’re familiar with many of the most common autoimmune disorders, such as:
- Thyroid disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Celiac disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
If you’re diagnosed with one autoimmune disorder, you have a higher chance of developing another one. Your risk also increases if you have a family history of autoimmune disease, but that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with the same condition as someone else in your family. Despite genetics having an influence, several family members can develop different autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune disorder symptoms
Despite being such a large group of conditions, autoimmune disorders often cause similar symptoms.
You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Recurring fever
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain and swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Digestive problems
- Skin rashes
In addition to these generic symptoms, some autoimmune disorders have a unique set of symptoms. For example, Sjogren’s syndrome initially causes dry eyes and a dry mouth. Over time, however, people with Sjogren’s develop problems throughout their bodies just like the other autoimmune disorders.
Treating autoimmune disorders
Your treatment is individualized to address your specific type of autoimmune disease and the full range of your symptoms. You may need one of many possible medications to relieve your varied symptoms. For example, you may struggle with pain, insomnia, skin rashes, and depression, and all of those need appropriate treatment.
There are also numerous medications available to replace hormones and other substances you may need to manage your condition. In some cases, patients benefit from medications that suppress their immune system.
You can count on us to stay up to date with the latest medications, such as biologics that target precise cells in your immune system. We also focus on your overall health, providing the guidance you need to make dietary changes and recommending anti-inflammatory supplements or IV vitamin therapy.
You’ll receive comprehensive care for autoimmune disorders when you come in to see Dr. Khaleghi. To schedule an appointment, call one of our offices or use the online booking feature.