Autoimmune Disorders

Understanding autoimmune disorders

This is one initiative of VITSAF focusing on  increase in Autoimmune disorders awareness and understanding of autoimmune disorders.

Our goal is to alleviate the suffering and socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through initiating, fostering, and facilitating collaboration in education, entertainment education, advocacy and patient support services in an effective manner. We work towards achieving our goals through collaboration with other International organization dedicated to addressing the problems of autoimmunity, the major cause of chronic disease.

Our Primary focus is Women living with autoimmune disorders.

What is an autoimmune disease?

When an intruder invades your body – like a cold virus or bacteria on a thorn that pricks your skin – your immune system protects you. It tries to identify, kill, and eliminate the invaders that might hurt you. But sometimes problems with your immune system cause it to mistake your body’s own healthy cells as invaders and then repeatedly attack them. This is called an autoimmune disease. (Autoimmune means immunity against the self.) Many parts of the body such as the red blood cells, blood vessels, connective tissues, digestive system, endocrine system, muscles, joints, nerves and skin may be affected. Autoimmune diseases predominantly affect women, frequently during their childbearing years. These diseases often tend to be hereditary, and certain environmental factors may also contribute to a weakened immune system.

Autoimmune disease symptoms vary from individual to individual, with each disease being different. Ranging from mild symptoms to more debilitating conditions, a malfunction of the immune system occurs in all of them.

What is the association of vitiligo with autoimmune disease?

Vitiligo is more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases (diseases in which a person’s immune system reacts against the body’s own organs or tissues). Autoimmune diseases that are associated with vitiligo include: hyperthyroidism (over activity of the thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone corticosteroid), alopecia areata (patches of baldness), and pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
According to a research article ‘NALP1 in Vitiligo-Associated Multiple Autoimmune Disease’ published at The new England Journal of Medicine – Autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases involve interactions between genetic risk factors and environmental triggers. We searched for a gene on chromosome 17p13 that contributes to a group of epidemiologically associated autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. The group includes various combinations of generalized vitiligo, autoimmune thyroid disease, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, pernicious anemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Addison’s disease.
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa061592
The basis for the association between vitiligo and these autoimmune diseases is not well understood.

Diagnosing autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases are not always easy to diagnose, especially during the earlier stages of the disease. Symptoms are often vague and difficult to describe. The diagnosis is usually based on a physical examination, symptoms of the individual, and a complete medical history.

Laboratory tests may also be performed to determine the diagnosis of certain autoimmune disorders.

Further resources online

Useful links