Diseases of the immune system

Autoimmune diseases responses may affect organs or tissue types such as the blood, joints, skin, muscles and glands. Symptoms differ based on the type and location of autoimmune disease, however general symptoms tend to include fever, fatigue and weakness and having an ‘ill feeling’.

To date, there are over 80 types of autoimmune disorders, and a person may suffer with more than one autoimmune disease at the same time. Studies show that genetic composition and environmental factors cause autoimmune diseases.

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What exactly is it? Celiac disease is more than just an intolerance to gluten. When gluten is ingested, the body attacks the gluten when it reaches the small intestine, causing damage to the intestinal lining. Gluten is a grain found in every day food products such as bread, crackers, pasta rye and barley.

A person suffering with celiac disease may have symptoms including gas and bloating, weight loss, weakness and fatigue and changes in bowl movement. Avoidance of gluten usually makes symptoms subside and the person’s general health is improved.

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown however doctors claim that genes play a role in its development. HLA class genes DQ2 and DQ10 are seen to affect the occurrence of celiac disease, HLA being the human leukocyte antigen complex, which is involved in the body’s immune system. This disease is seen to run through families, but the exact inheritance pattern of this complex disorder still remains to be discovered.

Early detection of the disease is key to prevent complications such as iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The damage is caused by the destruction of the covering that protects nerves and cells called the myelin sheath. Like other autoimmune diseases, the damage is caused by the body’s immune system attacking itself, which in this case the attack is on the central nervous system.

The result of this is loss of muscle control, vision, tactile sensation and balance. Symptoms vary depending on the location and severity of the disease yet the most common seem to be visual disturbances, numbness, decreased mobility and coordination as well as muscle weakness.

Onset of the disease begins in early adulthood to 50 years old and it is estimated to affect up to 2.5 million people worldwide. The causes are not clear, however genetics, environment and viruses may be to blame. The genetic role is seen in studies whereby siblings of a person who has MS have a 2 to 5 percent chance of developing the disease. Some researchers speculate that a person is born with the gene then if exposed to environmental factors, the autoimmune response is triggered.

Since multiple sclerosis cannot be cured, good quality health care is necessary in order to cope better with the disorder and live a happy life.

Health testing may highlight your chances, whether high or low of actually developing an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease and lupus are on the rise, so why not get your health genetic test today.