Immune system is the body’s protective mechanism. It works to provide defense against harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses. When a disease tries to invade the immune system and makes it weak, the body becomes more susceptible to different types of ailments.
Immune Dystem Disorders are generally caused by either inactivity or over activity of the immune system. In an inactive immune system, the body’s ability to fight diseases is decreased significantly. In an overactive immune system, the body attacks even healthy and normal tissues and cells. Below, you’ll find the common types of immune system disorders.
Allergies and Asthma
Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a non-threating substance like pollen or pet dander. When your immune system senses the presence of an allergen, it would stimulate the production and release of histamine that are supposedly meant to fight these substances. These cause allergic reactions such as rashes, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting, eye irritation, and breathing difficulties. Taking antihistamine is the best way to alleviate the symptoms. But of course, prevention is much better and that can be done through avoiding exposure to allergens.
Asthma, on the other hand, happens when the immune system becomes overactive in the airways in the lungs, also called bronchial tubes. Constriction of these airways that make it difficult for a person to breathe is the number one symptom. Asthma can be treated by inhaling corticosteroid that can reduce the over activity of the immune system.
In an autoimmune disease, the immune system produces antibodies that don’t fight the infections but instead attack the body’s own tissues. Example of autoimmune diseases include:
• rheumatoid arthritis: Antibodies attack the joints and cause pain, swelling and inflammation. Treatment includes oral or injectable medications for reducing the over-activity of the immune system.
• systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus): Antibodies attack tissues of different parts of the body including joints, blood cells, nerves, kidneys and lungs. Treatment is a daily dose of oral prednisone.
• inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Antibodies attack the intestine linings, resulting in rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, and diarrhea. Two examples of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Similarly, immune-suppressing medications are used for treating these diseases.
• others: Other types of autoimmune disorders include multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes mellitus, Myasthenia gravis, vasculitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and psoriasis.
Immune Deficiency Diseases
Another type of immune system disorder is the immune deficiency disease. As the term implies, these diseases are caused by immune system inactivity. It makes the body a lot more vulnerable to infections. Common examples include:
• severe combined immune deficiency (SCID): This is a genetic condition that is characterized by severe impairment of the immune system. Babies that are born with this problem die before reaching the first year. Bone marrow transplant is sometimes used as a cure.
• common variable immune deficiency (CVID): This is also due to genetics, wherein the body cannot produce sufficient antibodies to fight infections. Injection of antibodies or immunoglobulins is used as treatment.
• human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS): HIV is the virus that destroys the cells of the immune system. AIDS is the disease caused by HIV.
Strengthening your immune defense by living a healthy life is the best way to protect yourself from most of these immune system disorders. Proper diet rich in antioxidants, regular exercise, and avoidance of unhealthy habits are the lifestyle changes that you should do today.