The Autoimmune Support Awareness London Non Profit was set up to help the general public to understand the cause of Autoimmune disease. Shockingly, around 4 million people in the UK are currently living with autoimmune disease; many autoimmune conditions include Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Scleroderma, Raynauds Syndrome, Eczema, Asthma, Psoriasis, Autism, Sjogrens, Diabetes.
I first became aware of the threat to my immune system when I became very poorly after having my second child and needed an emergency breast reconstruction to remove ruptured breast implants which had gradually destroyed my health until I became a shell of myself.
After living with weakness, dizziness, lethargy, numbness, pins and needles, hardened lymph nodes in my groin and breathing problems for years I was finally relieved of my symptoms when I had my breast implants removed. It was horrifying to learn that something as everyday as makeup, deodorants, skincare and even surgical implants can have such a devastating affect on our health and I believe that this needs to be talked about far more so that we may make informed decisions to prevent illness and disease where possible and raise awareness.
There are actually over 100 diseases and conditions associated with Autoimmune disease with many people suffering in silence without diagnosis. The most common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis where the immune system attacks the joints and causes redness, warmth, soreness and stiffness which can start as early as in your thirties.
Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis skin cells multiply too quickly, building up to form red, scaly patches called scales or plaques on the skin rather than shedding when no longer needed. called psoriatic arthritis.
Multiple sclerosis damages the myelin sheath which is the protective coating that surrounds nerve cells. Damage to the myelin sheath affects the transmission of messages between your brain and body and can lead to symptoms such as numbness, weakness, balance issues and trouble walking. Around 50% of people with MS will need help walking within 15 years after getting the disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus affects organs including the joints, kidneys, brain, and heart, although it was first described as a skin disease due to the rash that it produces with joint pain and fatigue being other common symptoms.
Inflammatory bowel disease describes conditions that cause inflammation in the lining of the intestines, each type affects a different part of the GI tract. Crohn’s disease can inflame any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus whereas Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the large intestine and rectum.
Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands which produce the hormones cortisol and aldosterone, too little of these hormones can affect the way the body uses and stores carbohydrates and sugar which causes weakness, fatigue, weight loss and low blood sugar.
Graves’ disease attacks the thyroid gland in the neck, causing it to produce too many hormones which control the body’s metabolism causing symptoms including nervousness, a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance and weight loss. Another symptom is bulging eyes which affects up to 50% of people with Graves’ disease.
Sjögren’s syndrome is a condition which attacks the joints and glands that provide lubrication to the eyes and mouth, resulting in joint pain, dry eyes and a dry mouth.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes the thyroid hormone production to slow which results in symptoms such as include weight gain, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, hair loss, and swelling of the thyroid.
Myasthenia gravis affects nerves that help the brain to control muscles, preventing muscles from being able to move. Common symptoms include muscle weakness – that gets worse with activity and improves with rest – and limited swallowing and facial movements.
Vasculitis occurs when the immune system attacks blood vessels causing inflammation that narrows arteries and veins, allowing less blood to flow through.
Pernicious anaemia affects a protein which help the intestines to absorb vitamin B-12 from food, preventing the body from making enough red blood cells.
Those with celiac disease cannot eat foods containing gluten which is a protein found in wheat, rye and other grains. The immune system attacks gluten in the intestine and causes inflammation. Many people have gluten sensitivity, which isn’t an autoimmune disease in itself, but can have similar symptoms such as diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases include: fatigue, achy muscles, swelling and redness, a low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, hair loss and skin rashes. As well as unique symptoms for individual diseases such as extreme thirst, weight loss, fatigue, belly pain, bloating and diarrhoea.
Symptoms may come and go, this is known as a flare-up. Please contact your doctor if you have any symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Your doctor may use multiple tests and an assessment of your symptoms in order to diagnose you as no single test can be taken. Whilst there isn’t a cure for autoimmune disease the overactive immune response can be controlled to bring down inflammation pain, swelling, fatigue and skin rashes.
Asal has created the most fantastic range of natural skincare products at Jeunvie, given that our skin is the biggest organ of the body and absorbs the products – and chemicals – that we put onto us. Eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise can also help you feel better.