June 25, 2024

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When your own body attacks itself: Know why autoimmune diseases occur and what to do about them – Healthcare News

2 min read

Why do autoimmune diseases (AI) happen? Dr Jatin Ahuja, senior consultant, infectious diseases, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, says, “Autoimmune disorders develop when the immune system mistakenly assaults and kills healthy body tissues. Autoimmune illnesses are thought to be caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, while the specific reasons remain unknown. In certain situations, an autoimmune illness develops as a result of an infection or environmental exposure that causes the immune system to become disregulated and begin attacking its own cells and tissues. Hormonal imbalances, disruptions in the gut microbiota, and some drugs or toxins are all possible contributors. Once the autoimmune process has begun, it can cause persistent inflammation and progressive damage to specific organs or tissues, resulting in a wide spectrum of autoimmune illnesses with varying symptoms and manifestations.”

Is a person with one disease susceptible to more autoimmune diseases?

Yes, patients with one autoimmune disease are more likely to get other autoimmune diseases. This is because the fundamental processes that underlie the breakdown of self-tolerance and the development of autoimmunity are frequently shared by multiple autoimmune disorders. When the immune system gets disregulated and begins targeting the body’s own tissues, it may target various organs or systems. Furthermore, hereditary factors, environmental triggers, and the chronic inflammatory state associated with autoimmune disorders can all enhance the likelihood of acquiring other autoimmune conditions.

Individuals with an existing autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis, should be continuously examined for the emergence of new autoimmune symptoms or overlapping disorders.

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Is any such disease preventable, and how?

While autoimmune disorders are not totally prevented, there are several strategies that may lessen the risk or delay the onset of these conditions in vulnerable individuals. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes a well-balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, frequent exercise and stress management, can aid in immune system regulation and inflammation reduction. Avoiding environmental triggers like smoking and exposure to certain chemicals or poisons may also help. In some circumstances, early intervention with immunomodulatory medications or targeted therapy may be possible, particularly in people with a significant genetic susceptibility or early evidence of autoimmunity. However, prevention techniques are still an active research topic, and individualised approaches based on individual risk factors and biomarkers may be required for optimal disease prevention in future.

Most AI diseases are untreatable and lifelong. Why?

Autoimmune illnesses are frequently chronic and lifelong ailments. Once the autoimmune process has begun, it might be difficult to totally reset or reprogramme the immune system back to its usual condition of self-tolerance. Current treatments for autoimmune illnesses largely try to inhibit or control an overactive immune response while managing symptoms, but they do not address the underlying source of the autoimmunity.

Furthermore, autoimmune illnesses can be caused by complicated genetic and environmental variables, making it challenging to identify a therapy. While remission is attainable in rare situations, most autoimmune illnesses require lifelong care by a mix of immunosuppressive medicines, and targeted therapies, and lifestyle modifications to control inflammation and prevent further tissue damage.


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