An autoimmune disease is a condition where the immune system begins creating antibodies that attack healthy tissues inside the body rather than combating infections. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports that nearly 80 percent of individuals suffering from autoimmune diseases are women. Females are more prone to these disorders because of the genetic disparities between the sexes, and the impact these disparities have organs within the body.
An essential aspect of the mechanism is associated with the higher level of antigens present in the female body. These antigens play a significant role in activating hyperimmune responses, which in turn results in specific disorders, based on the antibodies and protein in question. Also, the disease pathways differ in males vs. females, suggesting that hormone-based triggers may be the cause.
Common Autoimmune Diseases & Their Treatment
While there are 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, females seem to be more susceptible to the following ones:
The majority of individuals who have lupus, a disorder that can take a toll on the lungs, kidneys, heart, skin, joints, and other body parts, are females. Lupus usually affects several organs, so it can be associated with an extensive range of symptoms, which makes it a challenge to diagnose. Swollen joints, fever, chest pain when breathing, rashes on cheeks and legs, nose ulcers, and fingers turning blue during winters are a few examples. In younger women, lupus can affect thyroid and surrounding hormones, which could result in unhealthy weight loss.
When it comes to lupus treatment, women have several options at their disposal. The primary procedures involve the use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), experimental methods like the use of antioxidants, and immunosuppressive medication like methotrexate. If this form of treatment isn’t able to address the autoimmune disease, it may be time to get in touch with a rheumatologist. As specialists in identifying and treating autoimmune diseases like lupus, a rheumatologist can best advise patients about appropriate treatment. It is also noteworthy that women of color are 2 to 3 times more prone to lupus than Caucasians.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin. Sufferers’ skin cells produce pink to red, thick, itchy areas that are draped in silver or white scales. Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of psoriasis, mostly shows up as a red patch covered with a white formation dead skin cells on the scalp, elbows, lower back, and knees. It starts as a tiny scaling papule but turns into scaling plaque when several papules merge. The disorder can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis, which causes swelling and pain in different joints. Psoriasis is believed to be caused by a group of genes that distort the functioning of the autoimmune system, triggering the skin cells that create lesions and patches to go into overdrive.
Minor psoriasis symptoms can often be treated with special shampoos and creams, but severe cases may require a combination of light therapy, topical ointments, and drugs such as biologics. For instance, the topical steroid named 1% hydrocortisone cream can suppress mild psoriasis, and tar-based preparations can efficiently address plaque psoriasis. Newer medication for treating the disease include molecule immune modulating drugs and injectable biologic therapies. They prevent the patient’s immune system from activating an autoimmune disorder such as psoriasis.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the spinal cord and brain, resulting in a range of symptoms, including issues with balance, vision, and more. It is known to harm the myelin sheath, which is known to protect nerve cells. The damage blocks or distorts the messages between the body and the brain, leading to symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Bowel and bladder dysfunction can also occur in MS; dysfunction in the nervous system’s paths that regulate bowel and bladder function lead to these problems. Depending on the form of MS, a patient’s symptoms may get worse over time, or come and go in phases. Also, its severity, progress and underlying symptoms can’t yet be predicted. Most females with multiple sclerosis are diagnosed between the ages 25 and 50.
MS treatment can help control the symptoms of the disease. Patients may be advised to treat relapses with a steroid medication to boost recovery. Disease-modifying procedures may also be recommended to minimize the amount of replaces with drugs. Mitoxantrone may also be suggested to patients with secondary-progressive MS. It’s a chemotherapeutic agent used for controlling neurologic disability as well as the occurrences of clinical exacerbations. An infusion is used to administer it intravenously a single time in a month. In some cases, the patient is referred to a neurologist, who may work with professionals like speech and language therapists to treat MS symptoms.
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, causing a deficiency in hypothyroidism (thyroid hormones). Hypothyroidism regulates the use of energy, so it affects almost every organ inside the human body – even the rhythm and beat of the heart. When hypothyroidism stops functioning efficiently, many of the body’s motor functions slow down. Individuals with the condition may get swelling at the throat’s front (at the goiter). A goiter doesn’t always cause pain but may make it difficult to swallow or cause the patient’s throat to feel full. A hoarse voice, dry skin, mood swings, hormone imbalances, and constipation are some other symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Not every female with Hashimoto’s requires treatment. If a patient’s thyroid has normal function, their healthcare provider may just want to observe them for modification. If the thyroid doesn’t create enough hormones, medication may be needed. Synthetic hormones such as levothyroxine may be prescribed to place the missing thyroxine. The drug doesn’t have any side effects, but the healthcare provider may ask the patient to continue the prescription for several years. Scheduled use of levothyroxine brings back the thyroid hormone to its average level. However, even when the thyroid hormone levels stabilize, the patient needs regular tests to ensure that correct dosage is being prescribed.
The symptoms of these autoimmune diseases may be similar to those for other ailments. Hence, it’s important to visit your doctor for correct diagnosis.