The friend who turned against us

Autoimmune disease is not just a buzzword in the jargon of various hospital chains: it is a group of diseases that turn our own immune system against us.
The friend who turned against us

Types of autoimmune diseases

The main characteristics of autoimmune diseases are that the immune system perceives proteins as foreign, and therefore triggers an immune response, which can cause many symptoms and even serious problems and organ failure. There are many types, they can be divided into two groups: localized (e.g. type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, Addison's disease) and systemic (e.g. lupus, scleroderma, giant cell arteritis, Sjörgen's syndrome). In the former case, the disease is concentrated in a single organ, while in the latter it affects the entire organism. In most cases, if detected in time, the quality of life can be greatly improved and life expectancy can be increased.

When should you think about the existence of a systemic autoimmune disease?

Although the root cause of autoimmune diseases is still unknown, thanks to the development of medicine and diagnostics, it is now possible to discover these diseases, which have specific sets of symptoms, very early. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Frequent rise in temperature, fever, without a clear reason to explain the fever
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Development of skin symptoms, especially due to exposure to sunlight
  • High degree of fatigue, weakness
  • Recurrent infectious diseases

Diseases can be screened with laboratory tests or imaging procedures - this can be CT or MRI - depending on the type.

Family planning with care

Autoimmune diseases can attack the body at any age, but they rarely occur in childhood. It is characteristic of the more aggressive types that they are revealed at a young age, however, there are those that lurk for years. Since women suffer from autoimmune diseases three times more often than men, it is important for them to be aware of the possibility of having children. In the case of some diseases, such as lupus, without proper treatment, a third of pregnancies can end in miscarriage. For others, pregnancy may temporarily improve the severity of the symptoms, but after childbirth they will return again.

In the case of these diseases, constant consultation with the general practitioner or the appropriate specialist is important. In the case of systemic autoimmune diseases, the course is very rhapsodic, the severity and appearance of the symptoms can vary. This can be influenced by the prescribed medications, but also by other processes taking place in the body.

If you have questions about autoimmune diseases, make an appointment with our specialists:

Dr. Klára Gadó