Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Sharma
What are Autoimmune Disorders?
It is a disorder of the immune system where the immune system can get ‘hyperactive’ or on the other end of the spectrum can become exceptional slow in its response to germs and bacterium, leaving the individual vulnerable to a host of infections and diseases.
When in ‘Hyper mode’ the body’s immune system starts producing antibodies (White Blood Cells) attacking and damaging the body’s own tissues (Red Blood Cells) beyond repair. Treatment of the Auto-Immune diseases generally focuses on reducing the activity levels of the immune system so as to let the Red Blood Cells multiply and heal the body to an extent.
Not all Auto Immune diseases are life threatening or terminal in nature. Some are even classified as “commonly occurring” disorders in the larger population. Examples of these would be –
1) Psoriasis – A Skin disorder where overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin. The immune system activity stimulates skin cells to replicate rapidly, producing layers of silvery scaly plaques on the skin. These often look like ‘Dandruff’ and can be seen all over the individual’s body, accompanied by severe itching and skin irritability. Psoriasis is often triggered due to stress and hormonal imbalances along with other environmental factors such as poor hygiene, inadequate diet, lack of sleep etc. Along with oral medication, lifestyle changes such as reducing stress at work or home, making sure one gets at least 8 hours of restful sleep per night and regular head and body massages are known to help reduce the severity of the problem to a great extent.
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis – The hyper immune system produces antibodies that attach themselves to the joint linings and then start to eat away at the cartilage and tissues causing swelling or inflammation and a sharp stabbing continuous pain. Oral medication along with gentle cardio (slow walking) and stretching exercise routines such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are known to have countered the ill-effects of this movement restricting disorder, to a large extent.
3) Aggravated Thyroid – An aggravated thyroid is a result of the excessive antibodies produced by an overactive immune system which attack the thyroid gland and slowly destroy the cells that produce the all-important thyroid hormone. Prolonged negligence or when left undetected for long, it often leads to Grave’s Disease (linked to hyperthyroidism) or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (linked to hypothyroidism.) The former can lead to weight-loss, bulging eyes, rapid heart-rate, and chronic fatigue while the later often causes sudden weight gain, depressed state of mind, dry skin and severe constipation. A good way to avoid diseases of the thyroid would be to maintain a healthy active lifestyle and a stable healthy body weight. It is also recommended that one goes in for regular preventive health check-ups for early detection of any thyroid related disorders.
A little can go a long way in limiting ill effects of autoimmune disorders.