Lupus

Friday, August 10, 2012

Autoimmune diseases

     There are many autoimmune diseases, some are very common and others are rare. Autoimmune diseases are a group of diseases in which your immune system starts to attack healthy cells and tissues with in your body. Those of us with lupus can collect other autoimmune diseases and illnesses. (If you want to learn more about lupus and secondary diseases you can go to this post on my blog: http://mrslupus.blogspot.com/2011/11/secondary-diseases-and-conditions.html . ) Women develop autoimmune diseases more often than men especially during their childbearing years.   


In-Depth http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site614/mainpageS614P1.html

Even though autoimmune diseases are estimated to affect some 23 million Americans, less than 13 percent of us can actually name an illness in this group. This underlines the fact that the study of the immune system (immunology) is still very much an evolving field, as doctors and researchers learn more about the body’s natural defense system—and what happens when it malfunctions. 
To better understand your child’s autoimmune disease, it helps to know generally how the immune system works: 
  • Whether bacteria, a virus or grain of pollen, when a foreign invader (antigen) tries to enter the body, it first encounters the innate immune system.
  • The innate system is our inborn, nonspecific response to antigens. It’s a general set of defenses that includes barriers like skin and mucous membranes, and reactions like coughing and sneezing reflexes.
  • The innate system also includes roaming white blood cells called phagocytes(literally, “eating cells”), designed to devour any antigen that gets through the outer defenses.
  • The innate system will either destroy the invader or buy time for the more complexadaptive immune system to work.
  • The adaptive system is our continually evolving, specific response to antigens. It’sa targeted defense that identifies the invader and makes unique proteins (antibodies) to mark it for attack.
  • Among the key players in the adaptive system are special white blood cells calledB cells, which produce antibodies, and T cells, which coordinate and carry out the attack—and, importantly, also signal when it should stop. 
In autoimmune disease, the adaptive immune system mistakenly begins attacking specific healthy cells and tissues—and fails to shut off that attack. This is different from other immune system malfunctions, such as acquired immunodeficiency disorders, like AIDS, in which the immune system is weakened or ineffective, andallergic disorders, in which the immune system overreacts to a foreign invader (pollen, for example). 
Doctors have also begun to recognize autoinflammatory disorders—which happen when the innate immune system goes awry—as being distinct from autoimmune illnesses. Though both attack the body itself and cause inflammation, an autoimmune disease targets antigens in specific cells and tissues (like the lining of joints, in arthritis), while an autoinflammatory disease launches a less specific attack against the body.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

With the ability to crop up in virtually any part of the body, autoimmune disease comes in many varieties. However, your child’s illness will likely fall into one of two basic groups: 
The line between these two groups is a bit blurry, though, since organ-specific disorders can impact other parts of the body. Also, it’s not unusual for children to have more than one autoimmune disorder at the same time.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

Because there are several dozen kinds of autoimmune diseases, risk factors depend somewhat on which illness you’re talking about. In general, though, researchers have found strong links to the following: 
  • Gender: Females are almost three times as likely as males to have an autoimmune disease, with adolescent girls and young women being at greatest risk. For some diseases, such as scleroderma and lupus (SLE), more than 85 percent of patients are female. (However, one of the more common autoimmune diseases in children, type 1 diabetes, occurs in boys and girls almost equally.)
     
  • Age: Most autoimmune diseases affect younger and middle-aged people. Some illnesses begin specifically in childhood (as their name suggests)—juvenile idiopathic arthritis and juvenile dermatomyositis, for example.
     
  • Genetics: A family history of autoimmune disease puts a child at higher risk. In fact, it’s been estimated that about one-third of the risk of developing an autoimmune disease is tied to something in a child’s genes.
     
  • Race: Some reports suggest that children of different races may be more prone to having certain autoimmune diseases. African-Americans, for instance, seem to be more likely than Caucasians to develop lupus (SLE) and scleroderma, but the opposite is true for type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS).
     
  • Other illnesses: Children with one autoimmune disease tend to run a higher risk of developing another. For example, kids with type 1 diabetes appear to be more susceptible to developing celiac disease or Addison’s disease.

CAN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE BE PREVENTED?

So far, there’s no way to stop autoimmune disease before it starts. But prevention remains the long-term goal—especially since harmful autoimmune activity can be difficult to “turn off” once it’s begun. 
In a recent report to Congress, the National Institutes of Health outlined the three challenges that researchers face: 
  • recognizing the specific genetic patterns of people susceptible to autoimmune disease
  • zeroing in on environmental factors (viruses, toxins, etc.) that may trigger disease
  • coming up with ways to intervene before the disease begins, along with creating public screening programs

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

Complications depend on the specific disease, and can range from relatively mild to very serious. Among the more common complications in children with autoimmune disease are eye inflammation, rashes and stunted growth. Life-threatening complications, like inflammation of vital organs (kidneys, heart, etc.), tend to be rare.
In addition, some of the more powerful medications used to treat autoimmune diseases can have significant side effects. If they are recommended for your child, your child’s doctor will discuss their potential complications in detail with you.

WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM OUTLOOK FOR MY CHILD?

By and large, autoimmune diseases are considered lifelong conditions. There are certain illnesses, like juvenile dermatomyositis, can be “cured” in the sense that with successful treatment, the symptoms never recur. Other illnesses, like certain types ofjuvenile idiopathic arthritis, are things that many kids simply grow out of. But even when a child’s autoimmune disease “goes away” (this is called remission), she’ll need to keep a close eye on her health throughout her life, because her immune system has already shown it’s capable of attacking healthy tissue. 
If your child has a more serious autoimmune disease, she may go through periods of getting better (remission) and getting worse (relapse). A sudden, severe return of symptoms, called a flare-up, isn’t uncommon. This seesawing back and forth can be difficult to deal with, especially over the long term, but both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can go a long way toward bringing these shifts under control. 
Even after diagnosing your child’s particular autoimmune disease, doctors can’t predict exactly what will happen. But they’ll be able to give you a general sense of what the future holds, and work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan that ensures the best possible outcome.

Causes

The exact reason that some children’s immune systems begin attacking their own bodies is still a mystery. But we do know that autoimmune diseases are not contagious, and they don’t appear to be caused by any one thing in particular. Instead, scientists believe there’s a multi-step process at work: 
  • Heredity: A child inherits certain genes from her parents that make her susceptible to a particular disease.
  • Environmental factors: The disease doesn’t actually reveal itself until it’s “triggered” by something—an infection, say, or exposure to certain toxins or drugs.
  • Hormonal factors: Given that many autoimmune diseases tend to affect adolescent girls and young women, the presence or amount of certain naturally occurring hormones in the body may also play a role in when these illnesses come to the fore.  
Researchers are now working to discover which genes are involved and how they interact—and are likewise investigating a number of potential environmental and hormonal triggers—in order to bring us closer to one day curing these diseases.

Signs and symptoms

There’s no single set of symptoms that covers the spectrum of autoimmune disease, and the most common symptoms tend to be nonspecific—meaning they could be caused by some non-autoimmune diseases, too. This can make it harder for doctors to diagnose your child, and why your child may also need a number of tests to narrow down the possibilities. 
Signs that your child may be having a problem with her immune system include: 
  • low-grade fever
  • fatigue or chronic tiredness
  • dizziness
  • weight loss
  • rashes and skin lesions
  • stiffness in the joints
  • brittle hair or hair loss
  • dry eyes and/or mouth
  • general "unwell" feeling 
Recurring fever, fatigue, rashes, weight loss and so on are not concrete proof that your child has an autoimmune disease, but they do mean something is making her ill and needs medical attention. You should take her to see her pediatrician, who will refer you to a specialist—likely a pediatric rheumatologist—if an autoimmune disease is suspected.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

You and your family are key players in your child’s medical care. It’s important that you share your observations and ideas with your child’s health care provider and that you understand your provider’s recommendations. 
If you’ve made an appointment to talk with a rheumatologist, you probably already have some ideas and questions on your mind. But at the appointment, it can be easy to forget the questions you wanted to ask. It’s often helpful to jot them down ahead of time so you can leave the appointment feeling that you have the information you need.           
If your child is old enough, you may want to suggest that she write down what she wants to ask her health care provider, too. 
Some of the questions you may want to ask include: 
  • What’s the name of my child’s autoimmune disease—can you write it down for me?
  • What evidence is there for the diagnosis?
  • How is this illness affecting my child’s body?
  • What is the long-term outlook for my child?
  • What are our treatment options?
  • What are the names of the medications—can you write them down for me?
  • What are their side effects?
  • How will we know whether the treatment is working?
  • How will this illness affect my child’s day-to-day life?
  • What can I do to help support my child’s health and help her cope with her condition?

FAQ

Q: Why did my child get an autoimmune disease?
A: We don’t know exactly why some children’s immune systems begin attacking their own bodies—it’s related to something in their genes and likely a number of other, unknown factors. It’s important to remember that your child’s disease wasn’t caused by anything you did, and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. 
Q: Why are girls more likely to have an autoimmune disease? 
A: Researchers are still puzzling out why this group of illnesses so often tends to affect adolescent girls and young women, but many think that high levels of certain female hormones—which increase after puberty and through the childbearing years—may be playing a role. 
Q: Why are there so many kinds of autoimmune diseases?
A: The immune system is designed to protect the entire body. When it malfunctions, it can attack virtually anywhere, from the skin to the joints to the blood vessels—which all respond in different ways and often require different treatment strategies. 
Q: Can autoimmune disease be fatal?
A: In some cases, severe autoimmune diseases—especially those affecting the kidneys, lungs, blood vessels and other vital organs—can be fatal. Fortunately, though, these illnesses are very rare, and treatment is aimed at keeping these vital organs healthy. Infection is another potentially life-threatening problem for certain children; however, with the recognition of its signs and symptoms, appropriate treatment can be life-saving. 
Q: Is there a test that can show which illness my child has?
A: There’s no single test that can identify autoimmune disease. In addition, some lab tests—like rheumatoid factor, often used to help classify juvenile idiopathic arthritis—may give false positives or false negatives. This is why your child’s doctor may use an array of tests, along with careful consideration of your child’s symptoms and physical exam findings, in making a diagnosis.
Q: How are autoimmune diseases treated?
A: Broadly speaking, doctors prescribe medications that 1) fight the harmful inflammation caused by autoimmune attack and 2) suppress the overall immune system or block specific things that it’s doing. Surgical therapies for autoimmune diseases are very rare.  
Q: What kinds of doctors treat autoimmune disease?
A: Rheumatologists, who specialize in diseases of the joints and connective tissue, often diagnose autoimmune illnesses and tend to be at the center of the health care team. Depending on which tissues or organs are affected, other specialists—such as dermatologists (skin) and nephrologists (kidneys)—may be involved in caring for your child.


Glossary for Autoimmune diseases


http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/a/ai/glossary.htm

  • APECED Syndrome: APECED is a recessively inherited genetic disease characterized by the presence of two of the following three conditions: impaired parathyroid function, yeast infection (candidiasis) and impaired adrenal gland function (Addison's disease). It is an autoimmune disease resulting from a genetic defect. The body's immune system malfunctions and attacks it's own body tissues.
  • Acute Posterior Multifocal Placoid Pigment Epitheliopathy: A acute acquired condition which is an inflammatory one affecting the retina of healthy young adults
  • Acute idiopathic polyneuritis: A rare progressive form of ascending polyneuropathy believed to be an autoimmune response.
  • Acute tubulointerstitial nephritis and uveitis syndrome: The association of a sudden kidney disorder with eye inflammation. Autoimmune processes are believed to be involved.
  • Addison's Disease: A rare progressive hormonal disorder characterized by insufficient production of certain hormones called adrenal corticosteroids.
  • Addisonian crisis: Severe adrenal gland complication from Addison's disease.
  • Adolescent conditions: Symptoms that are evident due to puberty
  • Aicardi syndrome: A rare genetic disorder where the structure connecting the two halves of the brain fails to develop which results in seizures and eye abnormalities .
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system.
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome 1: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system. Type 1 is caused by a defect on chromosome 3p21.3-p21.2.
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome 2: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system. Type 2 is caused by a defect on chromosome 13q14-q21.
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome 3: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system. Type 3 is caused by a defect on chromosome 11q13.2.
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome 4: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system. Type 4 is caused by a defect on chromosome 19p13.13.
  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome 5: A rare inherited progressive disease that affects the brain and immune system. Type 5 is caused by a defect on chromosome 3p21.3-p21.2.
  • Allergic Disorders: A group of disorders that a caused by an allergic response to allergens
  • Alopecia Areata: A condition involving one or more bald patches on the head. These patches may merge and lead to complete baldness.
  • Alopecia Totalis: An autoimmune disorder where there is a total loss of all head hair i.e. complete baldness.
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Warm Antibody: A rare autoimmune condition where the body's defense system attacks and destroys red blood cells. The onset of the condition is triggered by temperatures 37ºC or higher. The severity of the disorder is variable.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: Inflammation of spinal joints similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Ankylosing spondylarthritis: Inflammation of one or more spine joints. The spine becomes progressively painful and stiff and the spine joints may eventually fuse and cause disability. The condition may vary from mild to severe. Inflammation can affect other joints and tissues.
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome: An autoimmune disorder characterized by blood clots and pregnancy losses.
  • Antisynthetase syndrome: A rare autoimmune disease that affects the muscles. It involves the development of antibodies to an enzyme (aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase) which is involved in making proteins.
  • Arthralgia -- purpura -- weakness syndrome: A rare autoimmune disorder characterized mainly by weakness, joint pain, reddish or purplish skin discolorations and a blood abnormality where cryoglobulins in the blood precipitate at low temperatures.
  • Atopic dermatitis: Skin disorder characterized by chronic inflammation, and pruritis. Often hereditary and associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma.
  • Autoimmune Atherosclerosis: The formation of atherosclerosis through an autoimmune process
  • Autoimmune Diabetes Insipidus: Autoimmune disorder leading to diabetes insipidus.
  • Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System: A group of diseases where the body's immune system attacks it's own nervous system. Examples includes opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis. Symptoms vary depending on which nerves are involved.
  • Autoimmune Endometriosis: An endometriosis that is caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is characterized by an abnormal immune system response which leads to the destruction of red blood cells and hence anemia. The severity of the condition varies depending on the underlying cause e.g. cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, HIV and lupus. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.
  • Autoimmune Hemophilia: Hemophilia caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis: Liver inflammation caused due to autoimmune processes where the body's immune system attacks the liver.
  • Autoimmune Hypophysitis: Inflammation of part of the pituitary gland due to an autoimmune process resulting in impaired pituitary hormone production. The range and severity of symptoms is variable depending on the degree of damage to the pituitary gland.
  • Autoimmune Interstitial Cystitis: Interstitial cystitis caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome: An inherited autoimmune condition characterized by proliferation of lymphocytes and autoimmunity against the body's own blood cells resulting in premature death of certain blood cells.
  • Autoimmune Myelopathy: A disturbance functionally or pathological change in the spinal cord
  • Autoimmune Myocarditis: Inflammation of the heart muscle due to the body's own immune system attacking it.
  • Autoimmune ThrombocytopeniaAutoimmune disorder causing a lack of blood platelets.
  • Autoimmune Urticaria: An itchy rash caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune Vasculitis: A inflammation of the blood vessels caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune enteropathy: A very rare condition that occurs when the body's own immune system attacks the intestinal wall and affect the way it absorbs food.
  • Autoimmune enteropathy, type 1: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Autoimmune eye diseases: Eye disease that is caused by an autoimmune disease
  • Autoimmune limbic encephalitis: Limbic encephalitis is an inflammation of the limbic system which is the part of the brain responsible for basic autonomic functions. In the paraneoplastic type, the inflammation is caused by autoimmune processes.
  • Autoimmune nerve disorders: Nerve disorders occurring when there is an immune response of the body against its own tissues.
  • Autoimmune neuropathies: Nerve diseases from autoimmune damage.
  • Autoimmune oophoritis: An autoimmune condition where the body's own immune system attacks the ovaries and causes them to become inflamed. It can lead to ovarian function stopping prematurely.
  • Autoimmune orchitis: A inflammation of the testicles caused by an autoimmune reaction
  • Autoimmune peripheral neuropathy: Damage to peripheral nerves that occurs when the body's own immune system attacks it.
  • Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome, type 1: A very rare autoimmune disorder characterized by autoimmune polyendocrinopathy (APE), candidiasis (C) and ectodermal dysplasia (ED).
  • Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis: A skin rash that appears to be a result of the body's immune reaction to progesterone. As progesterone production is linked to menstrual cycles, the rash occurs usually in the week before menstruation until a few days after menstruation starts.
  • Autoimmune thyroid diseases: Autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland.
  • Autoimmune uveitis: Autoimmune inflammation of the eye's uvea.
  • Autosensitization dermatitis: A skin reaction involving the development of a variety of skin lesions in response to infections (virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite), inflammatory skin conditions or other triggers. The skin reaction may vary considerable in appearance from itchy red skin to the development of blisters and may involve variable portions of the body.
  • Balo disease: A rare neurological disorder where the protective sheath around brain nerve fibres are progressively destroyed. Symptoms are determined by the size and location of the affected brain area.
  • Bearn-Kunkel syndrome: A type of autoimmune liver disease characterized by liver damage, very high blood gammaglobulin levels and increased plasma cells.
  • Behcet's Disease: Recurring inflammation of small blood vessels affecting various areas.
  • Bizarre medical conditions: Various unusual and unexpected medical disorders
  • Bullous Pemphigoid: A chronic skin disorder characterized blistering of the skin which usually occurs on the joints, abdomen, armpit and groin areas.
  • Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus: A blistering disease that can develop in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The process is mediated by autoantibodies.
  • CAR syndrome: A progressive autoimmune eye disease caused by cancer that occurs outside the eye area. It is a type of paraneoplasic cancer which refers to distant neurological effects caused by a cancer. Eye symptoms usually occur before the cancer is detected.
  • CREST syndrome: Group of symptoms usually related to systemic sclerosis
  • Catastrophic Antiphospholipid Syndrome: A very rare disorder where the blood clotting system becomes dysfunctional and clots too easily due to the abnormal presence of antphospholipid antibodies. It results in blood flow blockages to various body organs. It is possible that the condition has autoimmune origins. The disorder is often triggered by infections, certain drugs (e.g. anticoagulants), minor surgery and hysterectomy.
  • Celiac Disease: Digestive intolerance to gluten in the diet.
  • Celiac disease -- epilepsy -- occipital calcifications: A rare syndrome characterized by celiac disease and epilepsy with brain calcifications.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 10: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect on chromosome 3q25-q26. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 11: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect on chromosome 3q28. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 12: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect on chromosome 6q25.3. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 13: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect in the SH2B3 gene on chromosome 12q24. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 8: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect on chromosome 2q11-q12. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Celiac disease, susceptibility to 9: The susceptibility to developing celiac disease due to a genetic defect on chromosome 3p21. Celiac disease is a small intestine disorder where the ingestion of foods containing wheat gluten and similar proteins leads to the inflammation of the small intestine lining. This damage affects absorption of nutrients and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea. Growth in children due to malabsorption may also result. The type and severity of symptoms is variable.
  • Chronic Discoid lupus: Discoid lupus Erythematosus, being a chronic condition, is common among all age groups. Discoid lupus erythematosus is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation and scarring type skin lesions which occur on the face, ears, scalp and at times on other body areas.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Severe chronic fatigue disorder often following infection.
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy: A rare disorder involving swelling of nerve roots and destruction of the protective layer around nerves. Severe symptoms can take up to a year or more to develop.
  • Chronic autoimmune neutropenia: An autoimmune reaction where the body produces antibodies to it's own neutrophils which results in neutropenia. It is usually associated with other autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. The infections that occur as a result of the neutropenia tend not to be serious.
  • Chronic necrotizing vasculitis: Inflammation and destruction of blood vessel walls which leads to death of associated tissue. Symptoms are determined by the extent and location of the blood vessel inflammation. The inflammation possibly has autoimmune origins. It can occur in condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.
  • Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis: A rare chronic inflammatory bone disease that occurs in children. The symptoms go into periods of remission only to return. The most common sites for the inflammation are the shinbone, thighbone and collarbone with usually several sites being affected at once.
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome: A condition characterized by blood vessel inflammation that occurs throughout the body.
  • Cold Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Cold autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition where the body's immune system triggers the production of antibodies against the body's own red blood cells. The red cells are destroyed at an abnormally rapid rate which leads to anemia. Cold haemolytic anemia is characterized by the fact that the abnormal destruction of red blood cells is more active when the patient is exposed to cold temperatures. The severity of the condition varies depending on the underlying cause. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.
  • Cold antibody hemolytic anemia: A rare autoimmune condition where the body's defense system attacks and destroys red blood cells. The onset of the condition is triggered by temperatures 30°C or lower.
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency: An immunodeficiency disorder involving low blood gamma globulin levels which results in an increased susceptibility to infections. The condition may be inherited or can be caused by certain drugs (levamisole, hydantoin and carbamazepine).
  • Cough: The noise produced from the sudden expulsion of air from the lungs
  • Crohn's disease: Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the digestive system. It is one of a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. The disease can affect any area from the mouth to the anus. It often affects the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum.
  • Cyclosporin -- Teratogenic Agent: There is evidence to indicate that exposure to Cyclosporin (an immunosuppressant drug) during pregnancy may have a teratogenic effect on the fetus. A teratogen is a substance that can cause birth defects. The likelihood and severity of defects may be affected by the level of exposure and the stage of pregnancy that the exposure occurred at.
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis: Blistering skin rash of elbows, knees, and buttocks.
  • Dermatomyositis: A muscle disease characterized by chronic muscle inflammation resulting in progressive muscle weakness and a characteristic rash.
  • Diabetes mellitus, congenital insulin-dependent, with fatal secretory diarrhea: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Dianzani autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome: A rare inherited disorder where the body's immune system attack itself, primarily blood components.
  • Diarrhea, polyendocrinopathy, fatal infection syndrome, X-linked: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Discoid Lupus: Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a form of lupus erythematosus marked by chronic skin eruptions. It is a chronic skin condition of sores with inflammation and scarring favoring the face, ears, and scalp and at times on other body areas.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus: Form of lupus affecting the skin.
  • Dressler (D.)syndrome: A rare autoimmune blood disorder where erythrocytes are destroyed suddenly after exposure to cold (usually 15°C or lower).
  • Dressler syndrome: A group of symptoms that can occur days, weeks or months after a heart attack or heart surgery. The symptoms may be due to such things as autoimmune processes, virus or bleeding around the heart which can result in inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart.
  • Dry Eye: Dry eyes or gritty eye feeling.
  • Ear Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Ear psoriasis refers to psoriasis that develops on the ears. It can be the result of psoriasis spreading from the scalp and may occasionally be triggered by wearing eye glasses.
  • Enteropathy, autoimmune, with hemolytic anemia and polyendocrinopathy: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Eruptive psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis is a skin condition in which small, red, teardrop-shaped spots appear on the arms, legs, and middle of the body. Guttate means "drop" in Latin.
  • Erythema nodosum: Allergic skin condition usually on the legs
  • Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia: A rare autoimmune disorder characterized by the presence of a mixture of various types of antibodies (crylglobulins) in the blood.
  • Facial Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Facial psoriasis refers to psoriasis that develops on the skin of the face. This location is particularly problematic as suffers are usually very self-conscious about the condition. Facial psoriasis is much more common in children than adults with lesions around the eye and mouth common.
  • Fever: Elevation of the body temperature above the normal 37 degrees celsius
  • Fisher (M.) syndrome: A rare type of nerve disease involving muscle coordination problems, eye muscle paralysis and absent reflexes. It appears to be caused by the body's own immune system destroying the protective layer around nerves. The condition is usually preceded by a viral illness and is not life-threatening.
  • Flexural psoriasis: Flexural Psoriasis is a non-infectious auto-immune disease, caused by activation of T-cells within the skin. It is a form of psoriasis found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in other flexion creases such as those around the genitals and buttocks. It often results in redness and inflammation, with scaly, dead skin on the surface.
  • Generalized Myasthenia Gravis: Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular disease resulting from autoimmune dysfunction. In generalized myasthenia gravis weakness develops mainly in the limbs and trunk. The severity of symptoms may vary amongst patients. Most patients suffer increased severity of symptoms during the day with improvement after sleeping.
  • Generalized pustular psoriasis: This is a rare form of psoriasis is also known as von Zumbusch psoriasis. It can be life-threatening especially in the elderly. It is characterized by the development of pustules in the flexural areas - the backs of the knees, the insides of the elbows, the armpits and the groin. These pustules continue to spread and soon they join to form lakes of pus. The pustules rupture easily and can become infected. This condition can be fatal if the patient gets dehydrated, or the infection spreads to the bloodstream. Generalized pustular psoriasis is often triggered by stopping topical or oral steroids.
  • Genital psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis can occur on the mucous membranes of the genitals but it is not as common as occurrence on the skin. Lesions on the genitals are usually accompanied by lesions on other parts of the body.
  • Gestational pemphigoid: A rare autoimmune skin blistering disorder that occurs during pregnancy onset during second trimester with severe form recurring after delivery during menstruation.
  • Gluten allergy: Gluten allergy is an adverse reaction by the body's immune system to gluten or foods containing gluten. The specific symptoms that can result can vary considerably amongst patients from a severe anaphylactic reaction to asthma, abdominal symptoms, eczema or headaches. Gluten allergy is similar to celiac disease - celiac disease only occurs in people with a genetic defect which predisposes them to the condition whereas gluten can occur in anyone but is more common in people who are also prone to other allergies.
  • Goodpasture syndrome: A rare disease involving inflammation of membranes in the lung and kidneys.
  • Goodpasture's syndrome: A condition which is characterized by glomerulonephritis and pulmonary hemorrhage with circulating antibodies against basement membranes.
  • Grave's Disease Associated with Thymus Hyperplasia: An enlarged thymus gland may be associated with Grave's disease. The thymus gland is located beneath the breastbone and above the windpipe and heart. It is made up of lymphatic tissue and is believed to be responsible for supporting the development of the immune system from the fetal stage through to puberty. After puberty, the thymus gland tends to shrink.
  • Graves Disease: is an autoimmune disease characterized by hyperthyroidism due to circulating autoantibodies. Thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs) bind to and activate thyrotropin receptors, causing the thyroid gland to grow and the thyroid follicles to increase synthesis of thyroid hormone.
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome: A rare progressive form of ascending polyneuropathy believed to be an autoimmune response.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis refers to a distinctive, acute clinical presentation of an eruption characterized by small, droplike, 1-10 mm in diameter, salmon-pink papules, usually with a fine scale.
  • Hailey-Hailey disease: A rare autoimmune skin disorder characterized by clusters of small blisters that erupt in high friction areas such as the armpits and groin and neck. Hot, humid weather, skin infections and UV radiation often trigger the condition.
  • Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Hashimoto thyroiditis is characterized by the destruction of thyroid cells by various cell- and antibody-mediated immune processes. Patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis have antibodies to various thyroid antigens, the most frequently detected of which include antithyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO), antithyroglobulin (anti-Tg), and, to a lesser extent, TSH receptor-blocking antibodies.
  • Hashimoto's encephalitis: A rare but serious condition that can occur when thyroid antibodies, such as those present in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, involve the brain tissue and cause neurological symptoms.
  • Hemolytic anemia, acquired autoimmune: A rare autoimmune disorder where red blood cells are destroyed prematurely by the body's own malfunctioning immune system. The severity of the condition is determined by the bone marrow's ability to replace the destroyed cells and how prematurely the red blood cells are destroyed.
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura: A form of vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation) that affects blood capillaries and affects mostly the skin, kidneys, joints and stomach.
  • Human adjuvant disease: This is a connective tissue disease that affects some people after the injection of synthetic material for cosmetic surgery
  • Hyperthyroidism: Too much thyroid hormone production.
  • Hypoparathyroidism, autoimmune: A rare autoimmune condition characterized by the inflammation of the parathyroid glands and resulting in a deficiency of parathyroid hormones (parathormone). Parathormone helps controls calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. Symptoms become progressively worse as calcium and phosphorus levels become increasingly imbalanced.
  • IPEX syndrome: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • IgA Pemphigus: Pemphigus is an autoimmune skin blistering disease which affects mainly the skin - mucous membranes are rarely affected. Usually the autoimmune reaction is mediated by IgG antibodies but in IgA pemphigus, IgA antibodies are involved. This form of the condition is generally quite harmless and responds well to medication.
  • IgA nephropathy: A rare disorder where kidney inflammation leads to a build up of the antibody (IgA) in the kidney which results in the characteristic symptom of blood in the urine.
  • Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura: Reduced blood platelets causing visible skin blemishes from bleeding or bruising.
  • Immune disorders: Disorders that affect the immune system
  • Immune dysregulation -- polyendocrinopathy -- enteropathy, X linked: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Infantile psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is an uncommon form of psoriasis.People with pustular psoriasis have clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin that are filled with pus (pustules). The skin under and around these bumps is red. Large portions of your skin may redden.
  • Juvenile Myasthenia Gravis: Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular disease which results from autoimmune dysfunction. Juvenile myasthenia gravis also has autoimmune origins and tends to develop during childhood. Symptoms tend to become worse during the day with activity and improve after rest or after sleeping. The severity of symptoms may vary.
  • Kawasaki disease: A childhood illness that generally affects the skin, mouth and lymph nodes.
  • Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis: A condition which is characterized by proliferation of Langerhans cells
  • Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults: Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a genetically-linked, hereditary autoimmune disorder that results in the body mistaking the pancreas as foreign and responding by attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta islet cells of the pancreas. Simply stated, autoimmune disorders, including LADA, are an "allergy to self."
  • Linear IgA dermatosis: A rare autoimmune skin condition characterized by blistered skin. The condition may occur after using certain drugs, following infection or there may be no apparent cause. It tends to occur in the non-reproductive years and most often affects the limbs, face or genital regions but may occur anywhere. The blisters may occur separately, in clusters or various other formations.
  • Lupus: Autoimmune disease with numerous effects on various organs and linings.
  • Lupus erythematosus tumidus: Lupus erythematosus tumidus (LET) is a rare form of chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus that characteristically presents as a succulent, erythematous plaques on sun-exposed areas.
  • Lupus nephritis: Kidney damage caused by lupus.
  • Lymphomatous thyroiditis: Progressive thyroid gland enlargement due to autoimmune disease.
  • Methotrexate-associated lymphoproliferative disorders: Some patients develop lymphoproliferative disorders as a result of using methotrexate to treat autoimmune conditions.
  • Miller Fisher Syndrome: Autoimmune nerve condition.
  • Mixed connective tissue disease: A rare disorder of the connective tissue which affects a range of body tissues and organs.
  • Mouth psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis can occur on the mucous membranes of the mouth but it is not as common as occurrence on the skin. Lesions in the mouth are usually accompanied by lesions on other parts of the body.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: Autoimmune attack on spinal nerves causing diverse and varying neural problems.
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Susceptibility To, 1: Multiple sclerosis is a nerve or spinal cord disease that causes random damage to parts of the nervous system. The result is a diverse range of possible symptoms depending on which parts of the cord are damaged, and how often the inflammation reoccurs. Typical symptoms are any kind of tingling, numbness, burning sensations, "pins-and-needles" or other types of sensory changes in various parts of the body. Researchers have discovered that some forms of multiple sclerosis are linked to a genetic defect. Type 1 is linked to a defect on chromosome 6p21.3.
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Susceptibility To, 2: Multiple sclerosis is a nerve or spinal cord disease that causes random damage to parts of the nervous system. The result is a diverse range of possible symptoms depending on which parts of the cord are damaged, and how often the inflammation reoccurs. Typical symptoms are any kind of tingling, numbness, burning sensations, "pins-and-needles" or other types of sensory changes in various parts of the body. Researchers have discovered that some forms of multiple sclerosis are linked to a genetic defect. Type 2 is linked to a defect on chromosome 10p15.1.
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Susceptibility To, 3: Multiple sclerosis is a nerve or spinal cord disease that causes random damage to parts of the nervous system. The result is a diverse range of possible symptoms depending on which parts of the cord are damaged, and how often the inflammation reoccurs. Typical symptoms are any kind of tingling, numbness, burning sensations, "pins-and-needles" or other types of sensory changes in various parts of the body. Researchers have discovered that some forms of multiple sclerosis are linked to a genetic defect. Type 3 is linked to a defect on chromosome 5p13.2.
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Susceptibility To, 4: Multiple sclerosis is a nerve or spinal cord disease that causes random damage to parts of the nervous system. The result is a diverse range of possible symptoms depending on which parts of the cord are damaged, and how often the inflammation reoccurs. Typical symptoms are any kind of tingling, numbness, burning sensations, "pins-and-needles" or other types of sensory changes in various parts of the body. Researchers have discovered that some forms of multiple sclerosis are linked to a genetic defect. Type 4 is linked to a defect on chromosome 1p36.
  • Myasthenia Gravis: An autoimmune disorder which interferes with nerve impulses to muscles and hence results in weak, easily fatigued muscles.
  • Myasthenia Gravis with Thymus Hyperplasia: Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease which is often associated with an abnormal thymus. The relationship between the thymus and myasthenia is not fully understood but as the thymus is involved in the body's immune system, it may trigger the immune system abnormality underlying some cases of myasthenia gravis.
  • Nail psoriasis: Persons with active psoriasis have psoriatic changes in fingernails and/or toenails. In some instances psoriasis may occur only in the nails and nowhere else on the body. Psoriatic changes in nails range from mild to severe, generally reflecting the extent of psoriatic involvement of the nail plate, nail matrix (tissue from which the nail grows), nail bed (tissue under the nail), and skin at the base of the nail. Damage to the nail bed by the pustular psoriasis can result in loss of the nail.
  • Neonatal lupus: Neonatal lupus erythematosus (NLE) is a rare disorder caused by the transplacental passage of maternal autoantibodies. The most common clinical manifestations are cardiac, dermatologic, and hepatic. Some infants may also have hematologic abnormalities.
  • Non-Contagious Diseases: Any disease that is not contagious
  • Ocular Myasthenia Gravis: Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular disease resulting from autoimmune dysfunction. In ocular myasthenia gravis, only the eye muscles are affected. A significant number of patients with ocular myasthenia gravis go on to develop symptoms in other muscles.
  • Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid: A rare chronic autoimmune eye condition that can result in blindness if not treated. The conjunctival and mucosal layers of the eye (inside of eyelid and outside of eye) become progressively inflamed and scarred. The condition can be very difficult to treat.
  • Palmoplantar Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Palmoplantar psoriasis refers to psoriasis that develops on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
  • Paraneoplastic Autoimmune Syndromes: A group of symptoms that occur in some individuals that are carriers of cancer
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes:
  • Pemphigus: A rare group of autoimmune skin disorders where blisters or raw sores develop on the skin and mucous membranes. The bodies immune system destroys proteins the hold skin cells together resulting in blistering. The condition can be life-threatening if untreated.
  • Pemphigus Foliaceus: A relatively milder form of the autoimmune skin disorder called pemphigus. Blisters occur on the skin but usually the mucous membranes are unaffected.
  • Pemphigus Vulgaris: A severe autoimmune skin disease characterized by blistering of the skin including the mucous membranes inside the mouth and esophagus.
  • Pemphigus and fogo selvagem: An autoimmune skin disease characterized by skin blisters and a burning sensation. It is endemic particularly in Brazil but may also occur in other countries.
  • Pemphigus paraneoplastic: A rare type of autoimmune skin blistering disease which affects the skin and/or mucous membranes and occurs in patients with cancer.
  • Pemphigus vulgaris, familial: A very rare skin blistering disorder caused by an autoimmune reaction. The mucous membranes as well as the skin is affected. Soft fragile blisters usually start in the mouth and on the scalp. Healed blisters leave no scarring.
  • Pernicious anemia: Pernicious anemia is a blood disorder where the body is unable to use it properly use Vitamin B12 to make red blood cells.
  • Pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta: An acute inflammatory skin condition possible caused by abnormal immune system functioning. It involves the development of a skin rash consisting of small skin bumps which eventually blister and form crusted red-brown spots.
  • Polychondritis: A serious, progressive, episodic condition characterized by inflammation and degeneration of cartilage in the body. The duration and severity of the episodes can vary.
  • Polyendocrine deficiency syndrome: A condition where more than one endocrine gland fails to function normally in terms of production of hormones. Symptoms can vary depending on the glands involved and the severity of the gland dysfunction.
  • Polyendocrine deficiency syndrome type 1: Multi-endocrine syndrome commonly affecting children
  • Polyendocrine deficiency syndrome type 2: Multi-endocrine syndrome usually affecting young adults.
  • Polyendocrinopathy, immune dysfunction, and diarrhea, X-linked: A rare condition involving autoimmune problems which can variably manifest as enteropathy (diarrhea), hemolytic anemia, and endocrine gland diseases such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. Resistance to viral infections is poor. The condition is life-threatening, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the condition is inherited in a X-linked manner, males tend to suffer severe symptoms whereas females suffer few if any symptoms as they are a carrier of the condition.
  • Polygenic diseases: Any diseases that are caused by conditions that affect several different genes
  • Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome: A group of rare genetic disorders characterized by the malfunction of more than one endocrine gland resulting in impaired hormone production. The gland malfunction results from autoimmune damage to the tissue. There are four subtypes of the disorder.
  • Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome type 3: A rare genetic disorder characterized by the malfunction of more than one endocrine gland resulting in impaired hormone production. The gland malfunction results from autoimmune damage to the tissue. There are four subtypes of the disorder with type 3 occurring mainly in female adults. Type 3 usually starts with thyroid gland problems and then other autoimmune conditions such as diabetes.
  • Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome type 4: A rare genetic disorder characterized by the malfunction of more than one endocrine gland resulting in impaired hormone production. The gland malfunction results from autoimmune damage to the tissue. Type 4 tends to have a different pattern to the other types with adrenal and thyroid problems often not occurring whereas other autoimmune conditions such as diabetes tend to predominate the initial stages of the condition.
  • Possible autoimmune diseases: The possibility of a disease that is caused by an immune attack on the body
  • Possibly Autoimmune Diseases: Diseases that may be autoimmune or have an autoimmune subtype, but it is unclear or controversial.
  • Postpericardiotomy syndrome: A complication that can occur after open-heart surgery. Symptoms can occur from days to weeks after the surgery. The condition is possibly caused by an autoimmune process triggered by a virus.
  • Primary Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Primary autoimmune hemolytic anemia is characterized by an abnormal immune system response. The body's immune system produces antibodies against the body's own red blood cells which leads to the destruction of red blood cells and hence anemia. The secondary form of the condition is the result of an underlying condition such as lupus or hepatitis whereas the primary form has no underlying condition.
  • Primary Cold Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Primary cold autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition where the body's immune system triggers the production of antibodies against the body's own red blood cells. The process occurs only when the patient is exposed to temperatures colder the average body temperature. The red cells are destroyed at an abnormally rapid rate which leads to anemia. The primary form of the condition means that there is no underlying condition. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.
  • Primary Glomerulonephritis: Kidney inflammation from autoimmune causes
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis: Primary biliary cirrhosis is a chronic and progressive cholestatic disease of the liver.
  • Primary progressive multiple sclerosis: Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) is most commonly found in men.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease of unknown etiology that is recognized increasingly in children.
  • Pseudo-torch syndrome: A rare genetic syndrome characterized by a small head, eye disease and brain abnormalities. The symptoms are often very similar to another disorder caused by certain infections during pregnancy.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. It affects a significant number of people. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. It affects a significant number of people. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 1: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 1 is linked to a defect in the HLACw6 gene on chromosome 6p21.3. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 10: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 10 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 18p11.23. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 11: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 11 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 5q31.1-q33.1. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 12: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 12 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 20q13. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 2: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 2 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 17q25. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 3: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 3 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 4q. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 4: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 4 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 1q21. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 5: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 5 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 3q21. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 6: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 6 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 19p13. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 7: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 7 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 1p. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 8: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 8 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 16q. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis Susceptibility 9: A predisposition to developing psoriasis that is linked to a defective gene related to the immune system. Type 9 is linked to a defect in a gene on chromosome 4q31-q34. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable.
  • Psoriasis arthropathica: Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis). Psoriatic arthritis is said to be a seronegative spondyloarthropathy and therefore occurs more commonly in patients with tissue type HLA-B27 Syndrome in which psoriasis is associated with arthritis, often involving inflammation in terminal interphalangeal joints. A rheumatoid factor is not usually present in the sera of affected individuals.
  • Psoriasis on Eblows and Knees: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis on the elbows and/or knees is very common.
  • Psoriasis on Mucous Membranes: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis can occur on mucous membranes but it is not as common as occurrence on the skin. Most commonly affected mucous membranes are the genitals and mouth. Lesions on mucous membranes are usually accompanied by lesions on other parts of the body.
  • Psoriasis on lower back: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis on the lower back region is very common.
  • Psoriasis on trunk and limbs: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaling and inflammation of the skin which can occur on virtually any part of the body. Psoriasis on the trunk and limbs is quite common and large areas of skin involvement may require systemic treatment.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis). Psoriatic arthritis is said to be a seronegative spondyloarthropathy and therefore occurs more commonly in patients with tissue type HLA-B27.
  • REST syndrome: A condition that is similar to CREST syndrome but doesn't include calcinosis. The disorder affects the skin, blood vessels and digestive tract.
  • Reactive arthritis: The inflammation of a joint
  • Relapsing Polychondritis: A chronic disease that affects multiple joints resulting in inflammation and degeneration
  • Relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis: During this form of the disease, patients tend to experience an attack or series of attacks (exacerbations) followed by complete or partial remission
  • Reynolds syndrome: A very rare syndrome characterized mainly by scleroderma (hardened skin) and liver cirrhosis.
  • Rhesus isoimmunisation: The antibody mediated destruction of red blood cells by those sensitive
  • Rheumatic fever: An inflammatory disorder that can occur as a complication of untreated streptococcal bacterial infection such as strep throat or scarlet fever. The condition may affect the brain, skin, heart and joints.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Autoimmune form of arthritis usually in teens or young adults.
  • Scalp psoriasis: Scalp psoriasis can be very mild, with slight, fine scaling. It can also be very severe with thick, crusted plaques covering the entire scalp, which commonly can cause hair loss.
  • Scleroderma: A rare, progressive connective tissue disorder involving thickening and hardening of the skin and connective tissue. There are a number of forms of scleroderma with some forms being systemic (involving internal organs).
  • Scleroderma, diffuse: A rare autoimmune connective tissue disease where the body attacks parts of the body and causes scarring and thickness of the tissue. In the diffuse form the the disorder, large areas of skin as well as organs are involved. Death can occur.
  • Secondary Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Secondary autoimmune hemolytic anemia is characterized by an abnormal immune system response. The body's immune system produces antibodies against the body's own red blood cells which leads to the destruction of red blood cells and hence anemia. The secondary form of the condition is the result of an underlying condition such as lupus or hepatitis whereas the primary form has no underlying condition. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.
  • Secondary Cold Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Secondary cold autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition where the body's immune system triggers the production of antibodies against the body's own red blood cells. The process occurs only when the patient is exposed to temperatures colder the average body temperature. The red cells are destroyed at an abnormally rapid rate which leads to anemia. The secondary form of the condition means that it is the result of an underlying condition - it usually occurs after some sort of infection. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.
  • Secondary chronic progressive multiple sclerosis: Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (spms) begins with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. The relapsing remitting (rrms) stage of the disease may persist for many years before the onset of secondary progressive ms.
  • Sjogren syndrome, primary: An autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks parts of the body that produce moisture such as the eyes, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Sjogren syndrome can occur on its own (primary) or with another connective tissue disease (secondary) such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, systemic sclerosis and polymyositis/dermatomyositis. The condition can be mild or severe.
  • Sjogren syndrome, secondary: An autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks parts of the body that produce moisture such as the eyes, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Sjogren syndrome can occur on its own (primary) or with another connective tissue disease (secondary) such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, systemic sclerosis and polymyositis/dermatomyositis. The condition can be mild or severe.
  • Sjogren's Syndrome: Autoimmune disease damaging the eye tear ducts and other glands.
  • Sjogren's syndrome, juvenile, secondary to autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disorder that affects the glands involved in tear and saliva production as well as gastrointestinal tract moisture. It can occur as a secondary condition associated with other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Spondylometaphyseal dysplasia with combined immunodeficiency: A rare syndrome characterized by skeletal abnormalities as well as a poor immune system.
  • Sprue: Malabsorption digestive syndrome
  • Stachybotrys chartarum: A toxic black slimy mold that can be found in damp indoor environments. Exposure can occur through the skin, ingestion or inhalation. It can causes conditions such as "sick building syndrome".
  • Stiff-Person Syndrome: A very rare progressive neurological disorder involving muscle tightness and painful muscle spasms.
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus: Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) is a nonscarring non-atrophy-producing photosensitive dermatosis
  • Subcutaneous lupus erythematosus psoariasiform type: Subacute cutaneous lupus erithematosus (SCLE) is a nonscarring, non atrophy-producing photosensitive cutaneous disorder. The sites most commonly affected are the upper back, chest, neck and arms, but lesions may appear anywhere on the body
  • Susac syndrome: A very rare characterized by poor blood supply resulting in damage to chochlear, retinal and brain tissue. It is results form inflammation of small blood vessels. Recurring attacks occur over a couple a couple of years and are months apart. The condition resolves itself eventually and the severity of persisting symptoms is variable.
  • Sympathetic ophthalmitis: Iris and eyeball inflammation as a delayed autoimmune reaction to eye injury
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Hemolytic Anemia, Susceptibility to, 1: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE and hemolytic anemia - the anemia often occurs months or even years before symptoms of SLE develop. Type 1 is linked to a defect on chromosome 11q14.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Nephritis, Susceptibility to, 1: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE and nephritis. More than half of SLE patients will develop nephritis. Type 1 is linked to a defect on chromosome 10q22.3.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Vitiligo, Susceptibility to, 1: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE and vitiligo. Type 1 is linked to a defect on chromosome 17p13.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 1: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 1 is linked to a defect on chromosome 1q41.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 10: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 10 is linked to a defect on chromosome 7q32.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 11: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 11 is linked to a defect on chromosome 2q32.2-q32.3.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 12: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 12 is linked to a defect on chromosome 8p23.1.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 13: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 13 is linked to a defect on chromosome 6p23.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 2: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 2 is linked to a defect on chromosome 2q37.3.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 3: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 3 is linked to a defect on chromosome 4p16-p15.2.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 4: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 4 is linked to a defect on chromosome 12q24.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 5: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 5 is linked to a defect on chromosome 13q32.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 6: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 6 is linked to a defect on chromosome 16p11.2.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 7: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 7 is linked to a defect on chromosome 20p12.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 8: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 8 is linked to a defect on chromosome 20q13.1.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Susceptibility to, 9: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease affecting mostly women and causing various effects throughout different parts of the body. Its severity can range from very mild to extremely serious depending on which body organs are afflicted. Researchers have discovered a number of genes linked to an increased susceptibility of developing SLE. Type 9 is linked to a defect on chromosome 1q32.
  • Systemic lupus erythematoses: It is a chronic autoimmune connective tissue disease that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage
  • Temporal arteritis: Inflamed head artery causing headache.
  • Thrombocytopenia -- chromosome breakage: A very rare inherited disorder characterized by low blood platelets, carcinomas and autoimmunity.
  • Thrombocytopenic purpura, autoimmune: A rare blood disorder where a low number of platelets impairs the bloods ability to clot and results in bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes.
  • Tropical sprue: A rare digestive disease where the small intestine can't absorb nutrients properly.
  • Tubulointerstitial nephritis and uveitis: A rare disorder characterized by neurological degeneration and skeletal abnormalities.
  • Tunglang-Savage-Bellman syndrome: A very rare syndrome characterized mainly by hearing loss and abnormal salivary gland function.
  • Type 1 diabetes: Severe insulin-treated diabetes typically occurring in young people.
  • Type 1 diabetes related Celiac Disease: Patients with Type 1 diabetes are more susceptible to developing celiac disease than the average population. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by intolerance to gluten by the small intestine. The type and severity of symptoms varies amongst people - some people have severe gastrointestinal symptoms from infancy whereas other have no symptoms other than fatigue or anemia during adulthood.
  • Type IV Glycogen Storage Disease: A condition which is characterized by a disease affecting glycogen storage
  • Vitiligo: Skin pigment changes, usually harmless but sometimes embarrassing.
  • Vitiligo in infants: Condition where areas of de-pigmented (whitened) skin develops; occurs in people of all races and skin colours but more noticeable on darker skinned individuals
  • Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition where the body's immune system triggers the production of antibodies against the body's own red blood cells. The red cells are destroyed at an abnormally rapid rate which leads to anemia. Warm haemolytic anemia is characterized by the fact that the abnormal destruction of red blood cells is more active when the patient is exposed to warm temperatures. The severity of the condition varies depending on the underlying cause e.g. cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, HIV and lupus. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly and cause serious symptoms.

  • Warm-reacting-antibody haemolytic anemia: An autoimmune disorder characterised by the premature destruction of red blood cells
  • Warm-reacting-antibody hemolytic anemia: A rare autoimmune condition where the body's defense system attacks and destroys red blood cells. The onset of the condition is triggered by temperatures 37°C or lower. The severity of the disorder is variable.
  • Wegener's granulomatosis: A rare disease involving blood vessel inflammation which can affect the blood flow to various tissues and organs and hence cause damage. The respiratory system and the kidneys are the main systems affected.
  • Whitaker syndrome: A condition that usually occurs in childhood caused by an autoimmune 
  • polyendocrinopathy


Lupus http://www.lef.org/protocols/immune_connective_joint/lupus_01.htm

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease driven by inflammation in which the immune system indiscriminately attacks "self-tissues" throughout the body. It is estimated that more than 16,000 people are diagnosed with lupus each year in the United States. Approximately 1.5 million Americans, and 5 million people worldwide, currently live with lupus (Lupus Foundation 2011).
Lupus autoimmunity can cause variable symptoms from person to person. Parts of the body frequently affected by lupus include the skin, kidneys, heart and vascular system, nervous system, connective tissues, musculoskeletal system, and other organ systems.
The immune system is the primary facilitator of lupus; therefore, its treatment requires a strategy that successfully targets immune cells. Unfortunately, conventional medicine typically relies on global immune suppression to accomplish this goal, inadvertently predisposing patients to potentially deadly infections and a host of troubling side effects.
However, advancements in medical technology in recent years have lead to the development of promising new medical therapies for lupus. These include the use of monoclonal antibodies targeted against cells of the immune system responsible for lupus autoimmunity, and stem cell therapy, which aims to replace aberrant immune cells with healthy immune cells in order to suppress autoreactivity.
Moreover, mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D may be a critical missing link in virtually all autoimmune diseases, including lupus. Vitamin D is capable of modulating the activity of immune cells, and studies have identified widespread vitamin D deficiency in lupus patients (Toloza 2010; Lemire 1992). For example, one study found that a mere 1.2% of lupus patients had adequate vitamin D levels, compared to 45% of healthy controls (Damanhouri 2009); another found that lower vitamin D levels were linked with more aggressive lupus autoimmunity (Ritterhouse 2011).
Life Extension’s strategy is centered upon easing inflammation and combines several scientifically studied nutrients to complement the immunomodulatory role of vitamin D. Additionally, avoiding inflammatory foods high in omega-6 fatty acids in favor of healthy omega-3’s provides a nutritional foundation ideal for balancing an inappropriately reactive immune system.

EPIDEMIOLOGY

The population most affected by lupus is women of childbearing age – that is, women between the ages of 15 and 44 years-of-age (Lupus Foundation 2011). Lupus is also more likely to develop in African-American, Asian American, Native American, and Latina women compared with Caucasian women (Womenshealth.gov 2011). However, it is possible for lupus to develop in people of any age group, race, or either gender.
Women with lupus are more likely to have high-risk pregnancies than those without this chronic disease. One study found that these women have a 3- to 7- fold greater risk of developing low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia), infection, and developing blood clots (thrombosis) (Clowse 2008). Women who experience a "flare" within 6 months of conception are much more likely to experience complications during the pregnancy affecting the mothers’ health. Additionally, the fetuses and neonates of individuals who experience a flare during pregnancy are more likely to have complications (Kwok 2011). Consequently, doctors generally advise women with lupus to plan pregnancies after 12 to 18 months of remission, and definitely not before 6 months of remission (Smyth 2009).

TYPES OF LUPUS

The term "lupus" commonly refers to systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, but there are other types of lupus as well, each with distinct signs and symptoms (Firestein 2009).
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
This is the disease often simply referred to as lupus. The word "systemic" refers to the fact that connective tissues throughout the body are affected; "erythematosus" is a clinical state in which red, raised patches develop on the skin. When referring to lupus elsewhere in this chapter, we are referring to this form of the disease.
Discoid lupus erythematosus
This form of lupus is distinct from SLE in that the symptoms are only skin related; discoid lupus erythematosus causes a red rash ("erythematosus"), often developing on the face and/or scalp. People with discoid lupus often also have SLE, or develop SLE in the future.
Drug-induced lupus
Certain medications can potentially cause lupus, but the condition generally goes away after stopping the triggering drug. The medications that can possibly cause drug-induced lupus include some oral birth-control drugs, certain blood pressure-lowering drugs, and antibiotics and antifungal medications.
Specific drugs most frequently associated with drug-induced lupus include:
  • Procainamide – antiarrhythmic drug
  • Hydralazine – blood pressure lowering drug
  • Quinidine - antiarrhythmic drug
Neonatal lupus
As the name indicates, this form of lupus develops in newborn infants. This form of lupus is quite rare, and is caused by autoantibodies being transmitted from a mother with lupus to the baby (White 1994). Although most of the babies born of women with lupus are healthy (Womenshealth.gov 2011), more than half of infants with neonatal lupus have problems with their skin, heart, and/or gallbladder (Silverman 2010; Wisuthsarewong 2011). Neonatal lupus may spontaneously resolve over the first few months of life, but can sometimes cause serious complications. Death occurs in approximately 10% of neonatal lupus cases, the major causes of which are typically pneumonia or heart complications (Wisuthsarewong 2011).

LUPUS SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, AND DIAGNOSIS

Lupus is a complex disease with varying manifestations. Some people have several different symptoms; others have few. The symptoms in some individuals are severe, while those in others remain mild. Both genetic (inherited) and environmental factors influence the development and severity of lupus symptoms. Because of these characteristics, doctors sometimes have difficulty in correctly diagnosing lupus.
People with lupus have periods in which they are feeling well, called remission, and periods of worsening symptoms, called flares. Lupus patients can often predict the onset of flares due to specific warning signs, such as worsening fatigue and/or onset of headache, fever, dizziness, rash, and/or pain (Phillips 1991). Being able to recognize warning signs is important because catching and treating flares early can prevent them from becoming severe.
The most commonly occurring symptoms of lupus include (Firestein 2009; Griffiths 2005):
  • Intense fatigue
  • Painful and/or swollen joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Red rash on the face and/or in response to sitting in the sun
  • Pain in the chest after taking a deep breath
  • Unexplained fever
  • Edema (swelling), often in the legs or around the eyes
  • Mouth sores
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is characterized by cold fingers and/or toes that are pale or purple in color.
In 1982, the American College of Rheumatology published a method for doctors to use for diagnosing lupus (TABLE 1). They then updated these criteria in 1997, and they have remained the same ever since. Lupus is generally diagnosed when an individual exhibits four or more of these criteria .
TABLE 1. Eleven criteria used for the diagnosis of lupus, as defined by the American College of Rheumatology.
These criteria are based on the common lupus signs and symptoms. Lupus is diagnosed when any four or more criteria are present (adapted from Griffiths 2005; Smith 2010).
CRITERION
SIGNS/SYMPTOMS
TEST
Malar rashA red rash on the cheeks and the bridge of the nose; often called a "butterfly rash"Physical exam, medical history
Discoid rashRaised, hard patches of scaly skinPhysical exam, medical history
PhotosensitivityA red skin rash caused by exposure to sunlightPhysical exam, medical history
Oral ulcersSores in the mouth, usually painlessPhysical exam, medical history
Nonerosive arthritisInflammation in one ore more joints, making them feel tender and swollen. Cartilage, which is protective tissue surrounding the bone, remains intactPhysical exam, medical history, X-ray
Pleuritis and/or pericarditisInflammation of the lining of the lung or heart, respectively; may cause pain when breathing deeply; growing tired easilyLung function test; chest X-ray to look for fluid in the lungs; cardiac stress test; echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to visualize the heart
Neurologic disorderReduced or abnormal brain function, headaches, seizures, memory loss, difficulty concentratingPhysical exam, medical history, brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging); produces a high-resolution image of the brain.
Kidney DisorderUsually no symptoms; signs are blood or high levels of protein in the urine.Urinalysis
Blood disorderAnemia (low red blood cell levels) with associated fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath; increased susceptibility to infection; slow clotting, excessive bleedingCBC (complete blood count); test for abnormal cell counts of platelets, red blood cells, lymphocytes, and/or leukocytes
Immunologic disorderPossible increased susceptibility to infection, inflammation in various organ systemsAssorted tests to detect antibodies from a blood sample.
Positive anti-nuclear antibodiesPossible increased susceptibility to infection, inflammation in various organ systemsANA (antinuclear antibody) test; test for the presence of antibodies that bind the cell nucleus, which is where the DNA that make up genetic material is stored
Doctors assess lupus severity by calculating a SLEDAI score, which stands for systemic lupus erythematosus diseaseactivity index. Based on the presence or absence various lupus signs and symptoms over the proceeding 10 days, a total score is calculated. For example, protein present in the urine would result in 1 point, and another point would be added if a new rash had appeared. One point is assigned for each symptom or sign present and the greater the score, the more severe the disease at that time. A mild or moderate flare is defined as a change in SLEDAI score of 3 or more points; a severe flare is diagnosed when the SLEDAI score has increased by 12 or more points (Griffiths 2005; Smith 2010).

LUPUS PATHOPHYSIOLOGY

Inflammation and Tissue Injury
The principle cause of lupus-mediated tissue injury is inflammation triggered by autoantibody complexes.
B cells, so-called because these immune cells originate in the Bone marrow, produce and secrete the antibodies, which are specialized proteins that bind to other molecules. The immune system generates millions of different antibodies that target an extremely large variety of molecules on the surface of microbes, such as bacteria and viruses. The antibody binds its specific molecule on a microbe in similar fashion to a key in a certain lock. When the "key" (antibody) and "lock" (microbe) fit together, the antibody sticks tightly to the microbe and marks it to be removed from the body. In people with lupus, many of the B cells secrete autoantibodies, which means that these antibodies bind to molecules on otherwise healthy tissues instead of molecules on microbes.
T cells, which are generated in the Thymus, produce various proteins called cytokines that help B cells grow, become activated, and stimulate B cells to produce antibodies. Other immune cells, including macrophages and neutrophils, migrate to the site of inflammation and produce tissue damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS), as well as engulf microbes and cells through a process called phagocytosis. One of the ways macrophages know when to engulf a microbe is by sensing that antibodies are stuck to their surface. All of these cells collectively are called leukocytes or white blood cells because of their lack of color. B and T cells are a subset of leukocytes called lymphocytes.
The types of self-molecules ("the lock") that stick to autoantibodies ("the key") vary in each case of lupus. Self-molecules common in lupus often are associated with the cell nucleus, which is the compartment within a cell that contains DNA and other proteins that make up genes.
Lupus-mediated tissue damage can be summarized as follows:
  1. B cells become activated and produce autoantibodies that bind various self-molecules.
  2. Activated T cells produce proteins called cytokines that help activate more B cells.
  3. Large complexes of antibodies stuck to self-molecules are formed.
  4. These complexes become lodged in various tissues throughout the body, such as the kidney and joints.
  5. The complexes cause an influx of neutrophils, macrophages, and other B cells and T cells into the tissue
  6. Proinflammatory cells secrete damaging reactive oxygen species and more proteins that cause tissue damage.
  7. If the inflammation is not treated and persists over time, the tissue may become permanently damaged.

Vitamin D Balances Immune Reactivity in Autoimmune Diseases

Vitamin D intervenes in the process of autoimmunity by tilting the properties of T- and B-cells towards "tolerance" of self tissues. Tolerance is a phenomenon orchestrated by a variety of highly specialized cytokines and other cell-signaling molecules.
Early in the developmental process of immune cells, they are directed to become either "effector" or "regulatory" immune cells. In other words, to become immune cells that promote tissue destruction, or those that suppress tissue destruction.

Patients with lupus have elevated numbers of effector cells and lower numbers of regulatory cells (Bonelli 2010). Moreover, the regulatory cells of lupus patients are malfunctional (Bonelli 2010). Vitamin D exerts multiple actions at the cellular level to balance the population of effector cells and regulatory cells (Bruce 2011). These lines of evidence establish a very strong case for the importance of maintaining sufficient vitamin D blood levels to combat lupus disease activity.
Kidneys
Kidney disease is a common complication in people with lupus; in fact, almost 50% of those with lupus have some degree of kidney disease (Womenshealth.gov 2011). Like other affected tissues in lupus, damaging inflammation from autoimmune attack causes a kidney disease called lupus nephritis.
The circulatory system delivers blood to the glomeruli, which are the small filtering units of the kidneys, through small capillaries. Glomeruli help to regulate blood pressure and electrolytes by removing or reabsorbing fluids and salt according to the body’s needs. In people with lupus, the large autoantibodies/antigen complexes that circulate in the blood can become lodged in the glomeruli and cause damaging inflammation. The onset of kidney complications generally occurs at least 5 years after the onset of lupus symptoms.
A healthy kidney only allows small molecules like salts to be removed from the body, and allows large protein molecules to remain in the blood. However, kidney disease – including that caused by lupus nephritis – causes proteins to leak out of the kidney into urine. High levels of protein in the urine, clinically called proteinuria, are indicative of kidney damage. A normal level of protein in a 24-hour urine sample is below 300 mg (Levey 2005).
Heart and Cardiovascular 
People with lupus are at a significantly increased risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). One study found that women between the ages of 35 and 44 who had lupus were 50-times more likely to have a heart attack than similar aged women without lupus (Manzi 1997). Additionally, heart disease is actually one of the most common causes of death for people with lupus (Trager 2001). This increased heart disease risk in people with lupus is caused by a several different factors (Kahlenberg 2011), including:
  1. Lupus-mediated inflammation can directly damage the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, ultimately leading to atherosclerosis.
  2. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, are more likely to be present in people with lupus, all of which make the risk of heart disease greater.
  3. People with lupus are often less active because of various symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain and muscle pain. A low degree of activity is associated with unhealthy weight gain and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors of heart disease.
People with lupus should be sure to do everything they can to take care of their heart and vascular system. The Life Extension Magazine article entitled "How to Circumvent 17 Independent Heart Attack Risk Factors" is an excellent resource to help ensure that every risk factor for cardiovascular disease is addressed.
Nervous System 
Lupus may also damage the nervous system. The possible signs and symptoms include confusion, excessive tiredness, seizures, difficulty concentrating, and/or headaches (Nowicka-Sauer 2011). The exact mechanisms causing nervous system damage in lupus are still being investigated, but are likely due to two principle factors (Huizinga 2008; Firestein 2009):
  1. Specific autoantibodies may inappropriately target molecules on nerve cells, causing inflammation and subsequent nerve damage.
  2. Inflammation in and around blood vessels prevents the delivery of the nutrients and oxygen nerves need to stay healthy.
Additional signs and symptoms of nervous system involvement in lupus include a very stiff neck reminiscent of meningitis, a high fever, psychosis, and/or seizures (Muscal 2010). Severe neurological disease in lupus can lead to coma and even death and therefore immediate emergency medical attention should be sought at the first sign of these symptoms.
Muscles 
Lupus also causes muscle pain, but fortunately, the strength of the muscle is not affected. Up to 16% of people with lupus experience this painful symptom, which commonly affects the arms and upper thighs (Record 2011).
Bones
Loss of bone density is more common in people with lupus, which can lead to osteoporosis and a greater risk of fracture. The disease itself, and/or disease-related inactivity, can contribute to osteoporosis risk. However, exercise is often difficult or painful for individuals with lupus because of joint and muscle pain and stiffness. Additionally, certain conventional medications used to treat lupus, such as corticosteroids, can also accelerate bone loss (Womenshealth.gov 2011).
Blood Disorders
These disorders are, unfortunately, very common in people with lupus. Four potentially severe lupus-associated complications are blood count abnormalities. Blood cell counts are typically measured as number of cells in 1 mm3 (cubic millimeter) of blood.
Anemia: Too few red blood cells. A complete blood count (CBC) is a common blood test in which all of the blood cell types are counted in a fixed volume. Normal results for men are 4.7 to 6.1 million red blood cells/µL of blood and normal results for women are 4.2 to 5.4 million red blood cells/µL (MedlinePlus 2010).
Thrombyocytopenia: Too few platelets in the blood. Platelets are small cell fragments that, when activated, stick together to form blood clots. Too few platelets may cause a delay in clot formation and excessive bleeding. Normal levels are between 150,000 to 450,000 platelets/mm3 (McCrae 2006); thrombocytopenia in context of lupus is defined as platelet levels below 100,000/mm3 (Hochberg 1997).
Leukopenia: A reduced level of leukocytes, also called white blood cells due to their lack of color. Defined as a count below 4,000/mm3 (Hochberg 1997). Leukopenia increases the risk of potentially severe infections.
Lymphopenia: A reduced level of a subset of white blood cells called lymphocytes, defined as a count below 1,500/ mm3 (Hochberg 1997). B and T cells fall broadly into the leukocyte group and can be more specifically defined lymphocytes. Lymphopenia also increases the risk of severe infections.

The Hormone Connection

The link between sex hormones as lupus disease activity has been the subject of debate for decades. The fact that women are considerably more likely to develop autoimmune diseases than men suggests that steroid hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, influence the immune system.
Estrogen actions tend to be proinflammatory, while the actions of progesterone, androgens, and glucocorticoids are anti-inflammatory (Cutolo 2004). Studies have documented low progesterone levels in women with lupus, suggesting that a relative imbalance in favor of estrogen may contribute to immune reactivity in some female patients (Shabanova 2008).
Accordingly, studies in women with lupus revealed an increased rate of mild to moderate intensity disease flares associated with estrogen-containing hormone replacement therapy (Buyon 2005). Experimental studies have suggested that testosterone may suppress immune reactivity in lupus animal models and in cells from patients with lupus (Walker 1994; Kanda 1997).
Based on the available data, Life Extension suggests that women with lupus evaluate their sex hormone levels and ensure that progesterone and testosterone levels are sufficient. If progesterone or testosterone levels are found to be low, women should consider using bioidentical progesterone or and/or testosterone creams to restore levels to a normal range (Gompel 2007).



Become a Member of Life Extension
Featured Blood Tests
Products
Show more
Magazine
Abstracts
Get Your FREE Nutritional Supplement Guide

Lupus

CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE’S APPROACH TO LUPUS TREATMENT

Since lupus potentially targets multiple organ systems, the type of treatment should be tailored for each individual person. Doctors may prescribe one, two, or more medicines at a time to maximize treatment response. An effective overall treatment strategy includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle – which may include conventional medicine, complementary medicine, exercise, good nutrition, and avoiding smoking and excessive sunlight – in order to reduce the frequency and severity of lupus flares. It is important to consider both the positive and detrimental effects of any treatment type before commencing a treatment plan.
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Several categories of conventional medications are available that reduce inflammation, which is the chief cause of symptoms in lupus. Many of these medicines are often quite effective at reducing symptoms and preventing severe flare-ups. Unfortunately, these medicines are commonly associated with significant adverse long-term side effects.
Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) are one type of steroid with powerful, anti-inflammatory effects. Synthetic corticosteroids mimic the effects of natural corticosteroids produced in the body and effectively reduce inflammation in people with lupus.
The most common corticosteroid medicine prescribed to treat lupus is prednisone. It may be taken orally in pill form, or injected into the skin to treat rashes, or intramuscularly (IM) to treat muscle inflammation. Other corticosteroids include hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, and methylprednisolone.
The possible side effects of corticosteroids include easy bruising; fat redistribution leading to an increase in fat around the abdomen; weight-gain and insulin resistance; and psychological changes ranging from irritability and depression to euphoria. They may also lead to increased risk of complications from diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and may cause elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels. If taken over the long term, corticosteroids cause bone loss and therefore leads to an elevated risk of bone fracture. Due to effects on triglyceride and cholesterol, long-term corticosteroid use could also contribute to an increased risk for atherosclerosis (Doria 2003).
Due to these potentially severe side effects, the lowest dose of corticosteroids that provides symptom relief is prescribed. Injected corticosteroids are usually only used to treat very severe disease flares; once symptoms come under control, oral administration is resumed (Doria 2003; Cameron 1999).
NSAIDs
Like corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also suppress inflammation. However, NSAIDs are less effective for individuals with severe lupus than corticosteroids. NSAIDs, of which there are more than 20 types available, are both anti-inflammatory and analgesic, meaning they provide pain relief as well as reduce inflammation. Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Although adverse effects are possible, and these risks are elevated in people with lupus, administration of NSAIDS with close monitoring by physicians can be helpful (Horizon 2004).
NSAIDs operate by inhibiting the secretion of leukotrienes and prostaglandins that cause inflammation and pain. Possible side effects include stomach upset, nausea, and even gastrointestinal bleeding; fluid retention; kidney damage, and increases in blood pressure and heart attack risk (Bjarnason 1993).
Aspirin may be particularly helpful in individuals who have anti-phosopholipid antibodies, which can make blood particularly "sticky" and prone to clotting. In the case of patients who are discovered to have anti-phospholipid antibodies without any known thrombotic problems, the question of preventative (prophylactic) treatment is unresolved. Currently, aspirin is the general recommendation (Bruce 2005).
Due to aspirin’s blood thinning, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects, doctors may recommend taking low-dose aspirin to reduce the risk of heart disease in people with lupus and relieve the pain of aching joints (Verheugt 2011).
Anti-malarial Drugs
Although the original purpose was to treat the parasitic disease malaria, it was discovered more than 50 years ago that anti-malarial drugs were also effective in treating the symptoms of lupus through minor immune suppression. In people with lupus, these drugs have been shown to reduce inflammation in the lining of the lung (pleurisy) and heart (pericarditis), improve joint and muscle pain, and reduce fever and fatigue. Examples of anti-malarials include chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and quinacrine (Ben-Zvi 2011; Chang 2011; Yildirim-Toruner 2011).
Possible side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps; headache, dizziness, and irritability; and the skin may darken in color and become very dry (Yildirim-Toruner 2011).
Immune System Modulators
Immune system modulators treat lupus by altering the number or function of immune cells. As lupus is an immune-mediated disease, this approach is often effective.
Some immune system modulating drugs globally suppress the immune system, and are thus called immunosupressives. While the self-reactive immune cells are suppressed, the cells that fight against infections are also inhibited, which can lead to increased susceptibility to infections. Potentially severe side effect may occur with all immunosuppressive drugs. Examples of commonly prescribed immunosuppressive drugs include the following:
Cyclophosphamide
Cyclophosphamidehas been used for several decades and is quite effective in treating lupus-related kidney disease. However, the side effects of cyclophosphamide can be severe and include nausea, vomiting, infertility, and hair loss. One study indicates that low-dose cyclophosphamide is still effective in treating individuals with lupus nephritis (Mitwalli 2011).
Mycophenolate mofetil 
This medicine is newer, more effective, and causes fewer side effects than cyclophosphamide. Due to these positive characteristics, mycophenolate mofetil has replaced cyclophosphamide as the first-line drug for the treatment of lupus (Walsh 2007; Shun 2011; Hahn 2011).
Azathioprine 
Azathioprine is an immunosuppressive drug that also has fewer severe side effects than cyclophosphamide, and overall, data suggests that it is similar in effectiveness (Houssiau 2010) .
Monoclonal antibodies
When an antibody "sticks" to the surface of a cell, it either blocks its function and/or tags the cell for removal from the body. Scientists have taken advantage of this quality of antibodies to design ones that stick to and induce the clearance of many different cell types, including B and T cells.
Monoclonal antibodies are created through a complex process involving culturing specialized immune cells with disease-specific stimuli (antigens) and purifying the antibodies that are produced as a result.
Monoclonal antibodies represent one of the greatest advancements in lupus treatment in recent history. The advent of monoclonal antibodies targeted towards receptors on the surface of B-cells allows physicians to turn the immune system against itself, in a sense, and eradicate self-reactive B-cells that underlie lupus pathology.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a few of these drugs to treat some diseases, especially certain types of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies also show promise as drugs to treat lupus.
One monoclonal antibody drug recently approved by the FDA to treat lupus is belimumab, which targets B-cell activating factor (BAFF), a protein involved in activation, differentiation, and proliferation of B-cells (Thanou-Stavraki 2011; fda.gov 2011; Sabahi 2006). The FDA’s approval of belimumab for the treatment of lupus is a groundbreaking achievement, as this is the first new drug developed specifically for lupus that has been approved for the last 50 years (Thanou-Stavraki 2011). Belimumab is co-marketed by Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline under the name Benlysta®, with cost estimates exceeding $30,000 annually. However, insurance should cover this therapy in most cases, as few new therapeutic options for lupus exist (Pollack 2010).
Rituximab is also a monoclonal antibody drug that targets a receptor on B-cell surfaces called CD20, thereby causing the immune system to destroy B-cells. It was originally approved to treat lymphoma, and may be effective in other diseases characterized by too many or malfunctional B-cells, including lupus. Currently, studies are mixed as to whether this drug is effective in treating lupus (Haubitz 2010). Rituximab is not approved to treat lupus, but is often used off-label for this purpose by many physicians.
Other monoclonal antibody drugs that may be effective in treating lupus and are still being studied include epratuzumab, abetimus, ocrelizumab, and atacicept, all of which target B cells (Haubitz 2010). Additional drugs are being developed and tested with targets such as T cells and pro-inflammatory proteins.
Currently, monoclonal antibody drugs face several challenges and may cause adverse reactions in some patients. However, scientists are quickly elucidating the role of particular proteins and receptors in the molecular physiology of lupus and it is very likely that monoclonal antibody therapy will become much more efficacious in the near future.

A Novel Approach: Stem Cells

A stem cell is unique in that it is a nonspecific cell type and has the potential to develop into many different types of specialized cells. These cells can divide and produce another stem cell to replenish itself or grow into a specialized cell, such as a nerve cell, brain cell, or a B cell.
Stem cell transplantation has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of several types of diseases. In this procedure, stem cells are taken from a person, grown in the laboratory into specialized cells, and then transplanted back into the individuals to replace diseased cells. To treat lupus, one approach is to take blood stem cells from a person with lupus and grow them in the laboratory into healthy new B and T cells that do not attack self-tissues. The next step is to replace the autoimmune B and T cells in an individual with the individual’s own new, healthy B and T cells.
This general approach is called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The word "autologous" refers to the fact that the transplanted blood cells are derived from the person’s own stem cells; "hematopoietic" refers to the fact that the type of stem cell used is the precursor of blood cells like B and T cells. As of 2011, approximately 200 stem cell transplantations for the treatment of lupus have taken place (Illei 2011).
Data regarding the safety and efficacy of autologous stem cell transplantation is not yet plentiful, but some studies suggest that this treatment approach may be promising.
For example, in one small clinical study conducted in China, the disease status of almost 65% of patients did not get any worse over 7 years (Song 2011). A comprehensive review of several studies that investigated autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation revealed that, in total, 81% of those that survived at least 3 years beyond the procedure showed some positive response to treatment (Gratwohl 2005). However, it is important to note that this analysis also found that an average of 11% of people who participated in these types of studies ultimately died because of transplant-related causes.
Stem cell transplantation is currently reserved for individuals with very severe disease who have not responded to conventional lupus treatments. In this population specifically, a remarkable 50% probability of 5-year disease free survival was achieved in the two largest studies to date exploring stem cell transplantation as a therapeutic option for lupus (Illei 2011).

THE INFLUENCE OF LIFESTYLE ON DISEASE ACTIVITY

Lifestyle, including diet, physical activity, and stress levels, can have a potent effect on many different chronic diseases, including lupus. A healthy lifestyle is an important factor in preventing flares, reducing disease severity, and improving overall quality-of-life.
The level of stress an individual with lupus experiences can significantly affect disease. Whether this stress comes from work, finances, relationships, or from managing this chronic disease, it can trigger flares or worsen lupus severity. A recent study found that the people with lupus who had a greater ability to cope with stress reported a greater quality-of-life (Hyphantis 2011). Additional data suggests that people who participate in a short stress-management program may have less pain (Greco 2004).
Ultra-violet (UV) light from the sun can cause or exacerbate the skin lesions often associated with lupus, and therefore avoiding or reducing exposure to the sun may be necessary for some people to avoid triggering these symptoms. One study found that photosensitivity was tightly linked with lupus disease, irrespective of the type of lupus, the level of serum autoantibodies, and use of anti-inflammatory medications (Sanders 2003). Fortunately, avoiding sun exposure or applying sunscreen is quite effective in preventing the damaging effects of UV light (Kuhn 2011). Ironically, the need to avoid exposure to sunlight may exacerbate the widespread vitamin D deficiency in lupus patients.
Exercising regularly is important for everyone’s health, but is especially important for individuals with lupus. Exercise helps prevent inflamed joints from becoming excessively stiff and keeps muscles, bones, and cartilage strong (Chilibeck 1995). Physical activity has also been shown to improve physical fitness in individuals with lupus, but can also help improve feelings of depression and overall quality-of-life (Carvalho 2005). Exercise can be daunting to those who are already feeling ill because of lupus, but remaining active is an important part of remaining as healthy as possible, even during flares. Those feeling too ill for more vigorous exercise can participate in gentle range-of-motion exercises so that muscles and joints can remain as flexible as possible.
One small pilot study with individuals with lupus confirmed that both aerobic exercise and the more gentle range-of-motion exercises are safe for people with lupus and did not worsen signs or symptoms (Ramsey-Goldman 2000).

NUTRITION AND LUPUS DISEASE ACTIVITY

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, and the precursor to the active form is produced in the skin after absorbing ultra-violet light. Other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel; fortified foods like margarine, milk, and breakfast cereals; and vitamin D supplements (Berdanier 2008).
Studies have shown that vitamin D may be important in reducing the risk of lupus (Cantorna 2004). It has been shown that higher blood levels of vitamin d are associated with less severe lupus disease activity (Amital 2010).
Two observational studies found that women with systemic lupus erythematosus have significantly lower levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (Toloza 2010; Borba 2009). Another study found that, while 22% of healthy control women had a deficiency in vitamin D, 69% of women with lupus exhibited a deficiency in this vitamin (Ritterhouse 2011).
Reduced levels of vitamin D in people with lupus may be due to one or both of two possible scenarios:
  1. The deficiency is related to the disease itself; or
  2. The deficiency is caused/exacerbated by avoiding sun exposure due to increased photosensitivity of individuals with lupus.
As discussed above, lupus and some of its treatments can cause bone loss and lead to osteoporosis. Healthy levels of vitamin D are necessary to help the body absorb calcium and keep bones as strong as possible and this is especially important in individuals with lupus.
Life Extension suggests that 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels be kept between 50 and 80 ng/ml for optimal health. This usually necessitates supplementation with 5,000 – 8,000 IU vitamin D daily for most individuals. However, supplemental doses should always be determined based upon blood test results.
Fish oil
The oil from fatty fish, such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, and halibut, is especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids (Kris-Etherton 2000). Fish oil is rich in two types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Omega-3 fatty acids, also sometimes referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), promote health in a number of ways. EPA and DHA are of particular interest in autoimmune diseases, including lupus.
Similar to vitamins, the body needs EPA and DHA, but can only produce them in very limited quantities. Therefore, these fatty acids must be included in the diet in adequate amounts (Connor 2000).
Recent evidence has revealed a critical role for EPA and DHA in establishing balanced immunity in autoimmune disease. Experimental studies found that EPA was able to induce immune cells into a regulatory phenotype, thus countering the action of aggressive effector immune cells (Iwami 2011).
Two clinical studies found that taking fish oil reduced lupus severity (Duffy 2004; Walton 1991). Another study found that taking fish oil reduced the level of serum lipids in people with lupus (Clark 1993), which may be useful as they are at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
The ratio between inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is of critical importance in autoimmune diseases. If the ratio is too high, disease activity may increase (Simopoulos 2008). Life Extension recommends that everyone strive to maintain an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 or lower. Readers can learn more about the importance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and how to test it in the Life Extension Magazine article entitled "Optimize Your Omega-3 Status."

Minerals and Vitamins

Vitamin E
There are several forms of vitamin E, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols, each of which has different levels of activity in the human body. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce several different markers of inflammation in the body, including inflammatory cytokines (Singh 2005). Since inflammation is responsible for the widespread tissue damage in lupus, antioxidant vitamins may aid in prevention or delay of the disease.
Vitamin E helps stabilize membranes of lysosomes, or immune cells that contain destructive enzymes used to fight intruders. When membranes are unstable, these enzymes cause damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Vitamin E can help prevent the onset of autoimmune attacks by stabilizing membranes of lysosomes (Ayres 1978). The symptoms of mice with lupus that were treated with vitamin E greatly improved. The mice lived longer, immune cell activity was normalized, anti-DNA antibodies were reduced, and kidney function improved (Weimann 1999).
One study indicates that vitamin E can reduce the level of autoantibodies in lupus patients (Maeshima 2007), but further studies are needed to confirm these effects. A case report of two patients indicates that a topical formula containing vitamin E improves the health of skin in people with discoid lupus erythematosus (Yildirim-Toruner 2011).
Vitamin A
The active form of vitamin A, called retinol, is important for healthy skin, bones, and soft tissues (Coates 2010), and supports healthy immune function (Harbige 1996). Since people with lupus have an abnormally functioning immune system and a higher risk of osteoporosis, healthy vitamin A levels are especially important for this population. Interestingly, one study showed that people with lupus consumed less vitamin A in their diets than age-matched healthy controls, which may contribute to a vitamin A deficiency (Bae 2002).
Consumption of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor, is an ideal way to ensure that vitamin A levels are sufficient while simultaneously avoiding vitamin A toxicity. The body will convert beta-carotene into active vitamin A as necessary and excrete any excess.

Plants and Herbs

Curcumin
Curcumin, a bioactive derivative of the spice turmeric, has been tested over the last several years for its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory clinical properties. Curcumin decreases the ability of lupus autoantibodies to bind their specific antigens an average of 52% (Kurien 2010). The damaging inflammation of lupus-mediated injury is facilitated by the binding of autoantibodies to protein and nucleic acid antigens. Therefore, successful blocking of antigen/autoantibody binding suppresses inflammation before it even begins.
Experimental studies have revealed a considerable role for curcumin in modulating inflammatory cross-talk between cells of the immune system by suppressing cytokines such as IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12 and TNFα (Bright 2007). Moreover, a recent animal model of an autoimmune disease identified NFkβ suppression as a key mechanism behind curcumin’s anti-inflammatory action.
A clinical trial tested the effects of curcumin in 24 patients with the lupus-associated kidney disease lupus nephritis. One group of patients took 500 mg of turmeric daily over a 3-month period, which is equivalent to a daily curcumin dose of 22.1 mg. Compared to the placebo control group, the turmeric group exhibited significant improvement in proteinuria (Khajehdehi 2011).
Although some clinical studies have been conducted showing some signs and symptoms are reduced in some autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, clinical studies have not yet been conducted to determine if curcumin has a similar effect with lupus (Bright 2007). However, these results are promising and suggest potential beneficial effects of curcumin in people with lupus.
Ginkgo
Ginkgo biloba, or more simply "ginkgo", is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. This nutrient is often prepared by making an extract from the dried leaves. These extracts contain high concentrations of molecules called flavonoids and terpenoids, which are antioxidants and improve blood flow, respectively (McKenna 2001).
A clinical study revealed that taking 120 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract three times per day for 10 weeks significantly reduced the number of Raynaud’s phenomenon attacks, a set of symptoms that often affect people with lupus (Muir 2002).

Pine bark extract 
There is evidence that extract from the bark of the pine tree (Pinus pinaster) helps improve lupus inflammation, although more information is likely needed to make definite conclusions about this ingredient.
One study found that administration of pine bark extract reduced oxidative stress and improved lupus signs and symptoms in six patients that received the supplement in addition to prescription medications compared to a placebo group (Stefanescu 2001). Specifically, the patients who took pine bark extract exhibited a reduction in SLEDAI score, meaning that disease as a whole was decreased.

Other Natural Therapies

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland and is converted into sex hormones. In addition to being produced in the body, DHEA is also present in the Mexican yam, from which it is extracted for use as a nutritional supplement (Coates 2010).
Low levels of DHEA-s, a plentiful metabolite of DHEA in humans, have been observed in patients with lupus and other inflammatory diseases (Sawalha 2008). DHEA and its various metabolites exert considerable influence over immune system activity by regulating production of multiple cytokines including IL-2, IL-1, IL-6 and TNFα (Sawalha 2008).
In a clinical trial, when individuals with lupus took 200 mg of DHEA daily for 24 weeks, the number of patients who experienced lupus flares was significantly reduced (Chang 2002). In another study, the same investigators showed that taking 200 mg of DHEA daily for 24 weeks reduced blood levels of the cytokine IL-10, which enhances antibody production (Chang 2004). This reduction in IL-10 may have contributed to the reduced incidence of lupus flares seen in the first study.
Another double-blind, randomized, controlled trial involving 41 women found that six months treatment with 20 – 30 mg DHEA daily improved mental and emotional well-being in lupus patients (Nordmark 2005). Also, at a dose of 200 mg daily, DHEA improved bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with lupus (Hartkamp 2004).
Life Extension suggests that DHEA-s blood levels be kept between 350 – 490 µg/dL for men and 275 – 400 µg/dL for women in order to achieve optimal immunomodulatory action.

Plants to Avoid

Alfalfa 
The seeds of the alfalfa plant have the potential to cause transient lupus-like symptoms, including autoimmune-related anemia, in certain people and primates (Montanaro 1991; Bardana 1982). Alfalfa seeds are rich in the amino acid L-canavanine, which was shown to be the responsible triggering agent in humans, and in certain types of mice (Montanaro 1991; Akaogi 2006). Due to these potential effects, people with lupus should avoid alfalfa seeds.
Echinacea
Echinacea is an herb that has long been used to promote a strong immune system to prevent and/or infections like the flu and colds (Barrett 2004). Considering that lupus is a disease characterized by an overactive immune system, people with lupus would likely benefit from staying away from Echinacea, which has been shown to be an immune system stimulant. While studies have not yet been conducted to determine the effect of Echinacea specifically on lupus, case studies have shown that taking this herb can exacerbate the severity of other autoimmune diseases (Lee 2004). Additionally, a number of studies have shown that Echinacea can induce human immune cells to secrete proinflammatory cytokines that are known to play a role in lupus disease (Spelman 2006). People with lupus should avoid Echinacea.
Tripterygium wilfordii (Thunder God Vine)
Some reports exist in the scientific literature suggesting that using Thunder God Vine, a Chinese herbal, may ameliorate symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases (Chen 2010). Due to these reports, Thunder God Vine is sometimes suggested by alternative health resources to those with lupus. However, Life Extension has reviewed the available scientific literature and concluded that, in most cases, the risk outweighs the potential benefit with this plant.
Several reports of severe toxicity and even death associated with the use of Thunder God Vine are available, and it appears that the dose required for clinical effectiveness is very close to that required to cause toxicity (Huang 2009; Wang 1989). Another report linked Thunder God Vine use with low bone mineral density in women (Huang 2000).
Life Extension does not suggest that use of Tripterygium wilfordii outside of a clinical setting. If a healthcare practitioner decides to use this therapy with patients, only a standardized extract of the skinned root should be used, as other parts of the plant are highly toxic (NCCAM 2011).

Life Extension Recommendations

Life Extension’s strategy is centered upon easing inflammation and combines several scientifically studied nutrients to complement the immunomodulatory role of vitamin D. Additionally, avoiding inflammatory foods high in omega-6 fatty acids in favor of healthy omega-3’s provides a nutritional foundation ideal for restraining an overactive immune system.

Lupus Safety Caveats

Vitamin D
  • Individuals consuming more than 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D (from diet and supplements) should periodically obtain a serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D measurement.
  • Do not exceed 10,000 IU per day unless recommended by your doctor.
  • Vitamin D supplementation is not recommended for individuals with hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels).
  • People with kidney disease, certain medical conditions (such as hyperparathyroidism or sarcoidosis), and those who use cardiac glycosides (digoxin) or thiazide diurectics should consult a physician before using supplemental vitamin D.
Vitamin E
  • If you are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications, or have a bleeding disorder, consult your healthcare provider before taking this product.
Curcumin
  • Do not take if you have gallbladder problems or gallstones.
  • If you are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications, or have a bleeding disorder, consult your healthcare provider before taking this product.
Ginkgo biloba
  • If you are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications, or have a bleeding disorder, consult your healthcare provider before taking this product.
Fish oil
  • If you are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications, or have a bleeding disorder, consult your healthcare provider before taking this product.
DHEA
  • Do not use DHEA if you are at risk for or have been diagnosed as having any type of hormonal cancer, such as prostate or breast cancer.

What are autoimmune diseases?

http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/autoimmune-diseases.cfm

Our bodies have an immune system, which is a complex network of special cells and organs that defends the body from germs and other foreign invaders. At the core of the immune system is the ability to tell the difference between self and nonself: what's you and what's foreign. A flaw can make the body unable to tell the difference between self and nonself. When this happens, the body makes autoantibodies (AW-toh-AN-teye-bah-deez) that attack normal cells by mistake. At the same time special cells called regulatory T cells fail to do their job of keeping the immune system in line. The result is a misguided attack on your own body. This causes the damage we know as autoimmune disease. The body parts that are affected depend on the type of autoimmune disease. There are more than 80 known types.
Body parts that can be affected by autoimmune diseases

How common are autoimmune diseases?

Overall, autoimmune diseases are common, affecting more than 23.5 million Americans. They are a leading cause of death and disability. Yet some autoimmune diseases are rare, while others, such as Hashimoto's disease, affect many people.

Who gets autoimmune diseases?

Did you know?

Sponsored by the Office on Women's Health, the Could I Have Lupus? Campaign External link is raising awareness about lupus and providing a supportive online community for women coping with lupus symptoms.
Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone. Yet certain people are at greater risk, including:
  • Women of childbearing age — More women than men have autoimmune diseases, which often start during their childbearing years.
  • People with a family history — Some autoimmune diseases run in families, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is also common for different types of autoimmune diseases to affect different members of a single family. Inheriting certain genes can make it more likely to get an autoimmune disease. But a combination of genes and other factors may trigger the disease to start.
  • People who are around certain things in the environment — Certain events or environmental exposures may cause some autoimmune diseases, or make them worse. Sunlight, chemicals called solvents, and viral and bacterial infections are linked to many autoimmune diseases.
  • People of certain races or ethnic backgrounds — Some autoimmune diseases are more common or more severely affect certain groups of people more than others. For instance, type 1 diabetes is more common in white people. Lupus is most severe for African-American and Hispanic people.

What autoimmune diseases affect women, and what are their symptoms?

The diseases listed here either are more common in women than men or affect many women and men. They are listed in A-to-Z order.
Although each disease is unique, many share hallmark symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, and low-grade fever. For many autoimmune diseases, symptoms come and go, or can be mild sometimes and severe at others. When symptoms go away for a while, it's called remission. Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms.
Types of autoimmune diseases and their symptoms
Disease
Symptoms
Alopecia areata (Al-uh-PEE-shuh AR-ee-AYT-uh)
The immune system attacks hair follicles (the structures from which hair grows). It usually does not threaten health, but it can greatly affect the way a person looks.
  • Patchy hair loss on the scalp, face, or other areas of your body

Antiphospholipid (an-teye-FOSS-foh-lip-ihd) antibody syndrome (aPL)
A disease that causes problems in the inner lining of blood vessels resulting in blood clots in arteries or veins.
  • Blood clots in veins or arteries
  • Multiple miscarriages
  • Lacy, net-like red rash on the wrists and knees

Autoimmune hepatitis
The immune system attacks and destroys the liver cells. This can lead to scarring and hardening of the liver, and possibly liver failure.
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged liver
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach pain or upset
Celiac disease
A disease in which people can't tolerate gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye, and barley, and also some medicines. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that have gluten, the immune system responds by damaging the lining of the small intestines.
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Infertility or miscarriages
Diabetes type 1
A disease in which your immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, a hormone needed to control blood sugar levels. As a result, your body cannot make insulin. Without insulin, too much sugar stays in your blood. Too high blood sugar can hurt the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. But the most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease.
  • Being very thirsty
  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very hungry or tired
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Having sores that heal slowly
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Losing the feeling in your feet or having tingling in your feet
  • Having blurry eyesight
Graves' disease (overactive thyroid)
A disease that causes the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone.
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Sweating
  • Fine brittle hair
  • Muscle weakness
  • Light menstrual periods
  • Bulging eyes
  • Shaky hands
  • Sometimes there are no symptoms
Guillain-Barre (GEE-yahn bah-RAY) syndrome
The immune system attacks the nerves that connect your brain and spinal cord with the rest of your body. Damage to the nerves makes it hard for them to transmit signals. As a result, the muscles have trouble responding to the brain.
  • Weakness or tingling feeling in the legs that might spread to the upper body
  • Paralysis in severe cases
Symptoms often progress relatively quickly, over a period of days or weeks, and often occur on both sides of the body.
Hashimoto's (hah-shee-MOH-tohz) disease (underactive thyroid)
A disease that causes the thyroid to not make enough thyroid hormone.
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Muscle aches and stiff joints
  • Facial swelling
  • Constipation
Hemolytic anemia (HEE-moh-lit-ihk uh-NEE-mee-uh)
The immune system destroys the red blood cells. Yet the body can't make new red blood cells fast enough to meet the body's needs. As a result, your body does not get the oxygen it needs to function well, and your heart must work harder to move oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Paleness
  • Yellowish skin or whites of eyes
  • Heart problems, including heart failure
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (id-ee-oh-PATH-ihk throm-boh-seye-toh-PEE-nik PUR-pur-uh) (ITP)
A disease in which the immune system destroys blood platelets, which are needed for blood to clot.
  • Very heavy menstrual period
  • Tiny purple or red dots on the skin that might look like a rash.
  • Easy bruising
  • Nosebleed or bleeding in the mouth
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
A disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn's (krohnz) disease and ulcerative colitis (UHL-sur-uh-tiv koh-LEYE-tuhss) are the most common forms of IBD.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody
Some people also have:
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth ulcers (in Crohn's disease)
  • Painful or difficult bowel movements (in ulcerative colitis)
Inflammatory myopathies (meye-OP-uh-theez)
A group of diseases that involve muscle inflammation and muscle weakness. Polymyositis (pol-ee-meye-uh-SYT-uhss) and dermatomyositis (dur-muh-toh-meye-uh-SYT-uhss) are 2 types more common in women than men.
  • Slow but progressive muscle weakness beginning in the muscles closest to the trunk of the body. Polymyositis affects muscles involved with making movement on both sides of the body. With dermatomyositis, a skin rash comes before or at the same time as muscle weakness.
May also have:
  • Fatigue after walking or standing
  • Tripping or falling
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
Multiple sclerosis (MUHL-tip-uhl sklur-OH-suhss) (MS)
A disease in which the immune system attacks the protective coating around the nerves. The damage affects the brain and spinal cord.
  • Weakness and trouble with coordination, balance, speaking, and walking
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors
  • Numbness and tingling feeling in arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • Symptoms vary because the location and extent of each attack vary
Myasthenia gravis (meye-uhss-THEEN-ee-uh GRAV-uhss) (MG)
A disease in which the immune system attacks the nerves and muscles throughout the body.
  • Double vision, trouble keeping a steady gaze, and drooping eyelids
  • Trouble swallowing, with frequent gagging or choking
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Muscles that work better after rest
  • Drooping head
  • Trouble climbing stairs or lifting things
  • Trouble talking
Primary biliary cirrhosis (BIL-ee-air-ee sur-ROH-suhss)
The immune system slowly destroys the liver's bile ducts. Bile is a substance made in the liver. It travels through the bile ducts to help with digestion. When the ducts are destroyed, the bile builds up in the liver and hurts it. The damage causes the liver to harden and scar, and eventually stop working.
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes
Psoriasis (suh-REYE-uh-suhss)
A disease that causes new skin cells that grow deep in your skin to rise too fast and pile up on the skin surface.
  • Thick red patches, covered with scales, usually appearing on the head, elbows, and knees
  • Itching and pain, which can make it hard to sleep, walk, and care for yourself
May have:
  • A form of arthritis that often affects the joints and the ends of the fingers and toes. Back pain can occur if the spine is involved.
Rheumatoid arthritis (ROO-muh-toid ar-THREYE-tuhss)
A disease in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints throughout the body.
  • Painful, stiff, swollen, and deformed joints
  • Reduced movement and function
May have:
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Eye inflammation
  • Lung disease
  • Lumps of tissue under the skin, often the elbows
  • Anemia
Scleroderma (sklair-oh-DUR-muh)
A disease causing abnormal growth of connective tissue in the skin and blood vessels.
  • Fingers and toes that turn white, red, or blue in response to heat and cold
  • Pain, stiffness, and swelling of fingers and joints
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Skin that looks shiny on the hands and forearm
  • Tight and mask-like facial skin
  • Sores on the fingers or toes
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Shortness of breath
Sjögren's (SHOH-grins) syndrome
A disease in which the immune system targets the glands that make moisture, such as tears and saliva.
  • Dry eyes or eyes that itch
  • Dryness of the mouth, which can cause sores
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Severe dental cavities
  • Hoarse voice
  • Fatigue
  • Joint swelling or pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Cloudy eyes
Systemic lupus erythematosus (LOO-puhss ur-ih-thee-muh-TOH-suhss)
A disease that can damage the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, and other parts of the body. Also called SLE or lupus.
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Fatigue
  • "Butterfly" rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Rashes on other parts of the body
  • Painful or swollen joints and muscle pain
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Chest pain
  • Headache, dizziness, seizure, memory problems, or change in behavior
Vitiligo (vit-ihl-EYE-goh)
The immune system destroys the cells that give your skin its color. It also can affect the tissue inside your mouth and nose.
  • White patches on areas exposed to the sun, or on armpits, genitals, and rectum
  • Hair turns gray early
  • Loss of color inside your mouth

Are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia autoimmune diseases?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (feye-broh-meye-AL-juh) (FM) are not autoimmune diseases. But they often have symptoms of some autoimmune disease, like being tired all the time and pain.
  • CFS can cause you to be very tired, have trouble concentrating, feel weak, and have muscle pain. Symptoms of CFS come and go. The cause of CFS is not known.
  • FM is a disorder in which pain or tenderness is felt in multiple places all over the body. These "tender points" are located on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs and are painful when pressure is applied to them. Other symptoms include fatigue, trouble sleeping, and morning stiffness. FM mainly occurs in women of childbearing age. But children, the elderly, and men are sometimes can also get it. The cause is not known.

How do I find out if I have an autoimmune disease?

Getting a diagnosis can be a long and stressful process. Although each autoimmune disease is unique, many share some of the same symptoms. And many symptoms of autoimmune diseases are the same for other types of health problems too. This makes it hard for doctors to find out if you really have an autoimmune disease, and which one it might be. But if you are having symptoms that bother you, it's important to find the cause. Don't give up if you're not getting any answers. You can take these steps to help find out the cause of your symptoms:
  • Write down a complete family health history External link that includes extended family and share it with your doctor.
  • Record any symptoms you have, even if they seem unrelated, and share it with your doctor.
  • See a specialist who has experience dealing with your most major symptom. For instance, if you have symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, start with a gastroenterologist. Ask your regular doctor, friends, and others for suggestions.
  • Get a PDF - Requires Adobe Acrobat Readersecond, third, or fourth opinion (PDF, 262 KB) if need be. If your doctor doesn't take your symptoms seriously or tells you they are stress-related or in your head, see another doctor.

What types of doctors treat autoimmune diseases?

Juggling your health care needs among many doctors and specialists can be hard. But specialists, along with your main doctor, may be helpful in managing some symptoms of your autoimmune disease. If you see a specialist, make sure you have a supportive main doctor to help you. Often, your family doctor may help you coordinate care if you need to see one or more specialists. Here are some specialists who treat autoimmune diseases:
  • Nephrologist. A doctor who treats kidney problems, such as inflamed kidneys caused by lupus. Kidneys are organs that clean the blood and produce urine.
  • Rheumatologist. A doctor who treats arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, such as scleroderma and lupus.
  • Endocrinologist. A doctor who treats gland and hormone problems, such as diabetes and thyroid disease.
  • Neurologist. A doctor who treats nerve problems, such as multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis.
  • Hematologist. A doctor who treats diseases that affect blood, such as some forms of anemia.
  • Gastroenterologist. A doctor who treats problems with the digestive system, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Dermatologist. A doctor who treats diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails, such as psoriasis and lupus.
  • Physical therapist. A health care worker who uses proper types of physical activity to help patients with stiffness, weakness, and restricted body movement.
  • Occupational therapist. A health care worker who can find ways to make activities of daily living easier for you, despite your pain and other health problems. This could be teaching you new ways of doing things or how to use special devices. Or suggesting changes to make in your home or workplace.
  • Speech therapist. A health care worker who can help people with speech problems from illness such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Audiologist. A health care worker who can help people with hearing problems, including inner ear damage from autoimmune diseases.
  • Vocational therapist. A health care worker who offers job training for people who cannot do their current jobs because of their illness or other health problems. You can find this type of person through both public and private agencies.
  • Counselor for emotional support. A health care worker who is specially trained to help you to find ways to cope with your illness. You can work through your feelings of anger, fear, denial, and frustration.

Are there medicines to treat autoimmune diseases?

There are many types of medicines used to treat autoimmune diseases. The type of medicine you need depends on which disease you have, how severe it is, and your symptoms. Treatment can do the following:
  • Relieve symptoms. Some people can use over-the-counter drugs for mild symptoms, like aspirin and ibuprofen for mild pain. Others with more severe symptoms may need prescription drugs to help relieve symptoms such as pain, swelling, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, fatigue, or rashes. For others, treatment may be as involved as having surgery.
  • Replace vital substances the body can no longer make on its own. Some autoimmune diseases, like diabetes and thyroid disease, can affect the body's ability to make substances it needs to function. With diabetes, insulin injections are needed to regulate blood sugar. Thyroid hormone replacement restores thyroid hormone levels in people with underactive thyroid.
  • Suppress the immune system. Some drugs can suppress immune system activity. These drugs can help control the disease process and preserve organ function. For instance, these drugs are used to control inflammation in affected kidneys in people with lupus to keep the kidneys working. Medicines used to suppress inflammation include chemotherapy given at lower doses than for cancer treatment and drugs used in patients who have had an organ transplant to protect against rejection. A class of drugs called anti-TNF medications blocks inflammation in some forms of autoimmune arthritis and psoriasis.
New treatments for autoimmune diseases are being studied all the time.

Are there alternative treatments that can help?

Many people try some form of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) at some point in their lives. Some examples of CAM are herbal products, chiropracticacupuncture, and hypnosis. If you have an autoimmune disease, you might wonder if CAM therapies can help some of your symptoms. This is hard to know. Studies on CAM therapies are limited. Also, some CAM products can cause health problems or interfere with how the medicines you might need work. If you want to try a CAM treatment, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor can tell you about the possible benefits and risks of trying CAM.

I want to have a baby. Does having an autoimmune disease affect pregnancy?

Women with autoimmune diseases can safely have children. But there could be some risks for the mother or baby, depending on the disease and how severe it is. For instance, pregnant women with lupus have a higher risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. Pregnant women with myasthenia gravis (MG) might have symptoms that lead to trouble breathing during pregnancy. For some women, symptoms tend to improve during pregnancy, while others find their symptoms tend to flare up. Also, some medicines used to treat autoimmune diseases might not be safe to use during pregnancy.
If you want to have a baby, talk to your doctor before you start trying to get pregnant. Your doctor might suggest that you wait until your disease is in remission or suggest a change in medicines before you start trying. You also might need to see a doctor who cares for women with high-risk pregnancies.
Some women with autoimmune diseases may have problems getting pregnant. This can happen for many reasons. Tests can tell if fertility problems are caused by an autoimmune disease or an unrelated reason. Fertility treatments are able to help some women with autoimmune disease become pregnant.

How can I manage my life now that I have an autoimmune disease?

Although most autoimmune diseases don't go away, you can treat your symptoms and learn to manage your disease, so you can enjoy life! Women with autoimmune diseases lead full, active lives. Your life goals should not have to change. It is important, though, to see a doctor who specializes in these types of diseases, follow your treatment plan, and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

How can I deal with flares?

Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms. You might notice that certain triggers, such as stress or being out in the sun, cause your symptoms to flare. Knowing your triggers, following your treatment plan, and seeing your doctor regularly can help you to prevent flares or keep them from becoming severe. If you suspect a flare is coming, call your doctor. Don't try a "cure" you heard about from a friend or relative.

What are some things I can do to feel better?

If you are living with an autoimmune disease, there are things you can do each day to feel better:
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Make sure to include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, and lean sources of protein. Limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. If you follow a healthy eating plan, you will get the nutrients you need from food.
  • Get regular physical activity. But be careful not to overdo it. Talk with your doctor about what types of physical activity you can do. A gradual and gentle exercise program often works well for people with long-lasting muscle and joint pain. Some types of yoga or tai chi exercises may be helpful.
  • Get enough rest. Rest allows your body tissues and joints the time they need to repair. Sleeping is a great way you can help both your body and mind. If you don't get enough sleep, your stress level and your symptoms could get worse. You also can't fight off sickness as well when you sleep poorly. When you are well-rested, you can tackle your problems better and lower your risk for illness. Most people need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day to feel well-rested.
  • Reduce stress. Stress and anxiety can trigger symptoms to flare up with some autoimmune diseases. So finding ways to simplify your life and cope with daily stressors will help you to feel your best. Meditation, self-hypnosis, and guided imagery, are simple relaxation techniques that might help you to reduce stress, lessen your pain, and deal with other aspects of living with your disease. You can learn to do these through self-help books, tapes, or with the help of an instructor. Joining a support group or talking with a counselor might also help you to manage your stress and cope with your disease.
You have some power to lessen your pain! Try using imagery for 15 minutes, two or three times each day.
  1. Put on your favorite calming music.
  2. Lie back on your favorite chair or sofa. Or if you are at work, sit back and relax in your chair.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Imagine your pain or discomfort.
  5. Imagine something that confronts this pain and watch it "destroy" the pain.

More information on autoimmune diseases

For more information about autoimmune diseases, call womenshealth.gov at 800-994-9662 (TDD: 888-220-5446) or contact the following organizations:
Share this information!

The information on our website is provided by the U.S. federal government and is in the public domain. This public information is not copyrighted and may be reproduced without permission, though citation of each source is appreciated.
Autoimmune diseases fact sheet was reviewed by:

2 comments:

  1. Greetings to everyone that is reading this testimony..I want to use this medium to testify of how i got cured totally from Lupus,I was diagnose with Lupus 2 years ago, and ever since i have done a lot of Chemo and Radiation but nothing worked out for me, but only damaged my immune system and render me weak and helpless. I came across testimonies on how Dr Molemen healed Several patients living with Lupus and Herpes Virus, just with his herbal medicine which he normally prepare for them, after doing some research on this great man, i left no hope than to contact Dr Molemen with faith that God could also heal me with his servant medicine, to my greatest surprise after 2 weeks of taking Dr Molemen medicine which he sent to me, i am totally free and healed from Lupus. I'm now here to testify that am no more a Lupus patient, and now am so much happy if you need help for your HERPES CURE OR LYME DISEASE/CANCER OR HIV&AIDS contact him today for his healing medicine,email ( drmolemenspiritualtemple@gmail.com / dr.molemenspiritualtemple@yahoo.com) or call him on +2347036013351.

    Forever Remain Bless Dr Molemen

    ReplyDelete