Types and Risk Factors of Autoimmune Diseases

Types and Risk Factors of Autoimmune Diseases

It is normal to feel achy and exhausted after a long day of social and work activities. However, these could be symptoms of an underlying autoimmune disease rather than daily stresses of life. Knowing the symptoms of most conditions is important because you will seek early treatment before the conditions progress. Book an appointment with Jeffrey Miller MD, a rheumatology specialist, if your condition is affecting your functioning. Below are answers about arthritis and other autoimmune diseases:

What are the types of autoimmune diseases?

Autoimmune diseases develop when an individual’s natural defense system cannot differentiate between their own cells and foreign cells. This makes the immune system attack all cells, including healthy ones. There are numerous autoimmune diseases. The main ones include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: It is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation and stiffness of body joints. Untreated conditions could affect more than just your joints. It could lead to skin, lungs, blood vessels, and eye damage. Patients experience fatigue, swollen joints, stiffness, and loss of appetite.
  • Lupus: Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes swelling of knees and hand joints. However, it has other symptoms that make it difficult for doctors to diagnose the condition. These symptoms include mouth sores, hair loss, painful breathing, and sensitivity to light.
  • Systemic sclerosis: This is an autoimmune condition that results in a buildup of collagen to cause a variety of symptoms that differ in severity. These symptoms include weight loss, stiffness, patches in the skin, and breathing problems.
  • Thyroid diseases: Thyroid disease could make your body produce sufficient or deficient thyroid hormone. Its symptoms also have a varying severity depending on genetics, environmental factors, and an individual’s health.

What are the risk factors of autoimmune diseases?

Experts have not yet established the cause of autoimmune diseases but know factors that could increase the risk of the immune system attacking cells from an individual’s body. They include:

  • Genetics: Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, have been proven to run in families. Therefore, you could develop autoimmune diseases if a member of your family has been diagnosed with a type of these conditions.
  • Weight: Being overweight could increase the risk of developing psoriatic arthritis or rheumatoid disease. The reason is that obese people exert excess weight on fat tissues and lower joints.
  • Smoking: According to research, smoking could increase your risk of developing lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
  • Medications: Certain antibiotics and blood pressure drugs could trigger the development of lupus or myopathy. Myopathy is also an autoimmune condition that causes weakness in muscles.

Treatment of autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases involve your immune system. Therefore, most treatment focuses on reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling. Doctors could prescribe immune-suppressing drugs or lifestyle modifications and observe your progress. The choice of treatment depends on your condition.

Before treatment, doctors need to examine your problem to establish what could be the main cause and severity. They then choose between physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, or surgery. Book an appointment today with the Osteoporosis and Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay for a full consultation and treatment. 

Paul Petersen