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Autoimmune Disorders - Your Body Under Attack

It's disturbing to note how many autoimmune disorders there are and how common some of these immune disorders are becoming.

We all generally know that it is important to have a good immune system to fight viruses and bacteria, but in autoimmune disorders, you have an overactive immune system that attacks your own body systems.

Common Autoimmune Disorders

Here is how the immune system attacks your own body systems in most common autoimmune disorders...

  • in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joints
  • in lupus, body organs
  • in Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease, the thyroid gland
  • in multiple sclerosis, the nervous system, and
  • in celiac disease, the intestinal tract.

There are more autoimmune disorders... many more. A full list can be found at the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association website.

When the Immune System Becomes Destructive

When a foreign body (antigen) such as bacteria or a virus enters your body, your immune system goes to work creating a protein (antibody) to attack it. In autoimmune disorders, the immune system slips off course attacking body tissues (or organs) as if they were antigens.

In my case, I have rheumatoid arthritis, a genetic disorder that has shown up time and time again in my family tree.

Although I was born with the disorder, it did not become "active" in my body until I was in my early twenties. In my case, here is what happened.

  • First, my thyroid starting kicking into overdrive. I had energy bursting inside, throwing me into hyperactivity like never before. (It actually felt good -- for the first two weeks, that is.)
  • Second, by about the second day I was hungry all the time. It was like I couldn't get enough to eat. I'd have a huge breakfast before leaving for work and still stop off at a drive-through for a quick take-out breakfast too. I began eating on average 6 full meals a day... between 5,000 and 8,000 calories per DAY!
  • Third, by about the fourth day, even though I was consuming enough food for a small family, I began losing weight... lots of weight. In fact, I dropped from a comfortable and healthy 122 pounds down to 89 pounds within the first 30 days!

On the diagnostic side of things, I went through tons of tests. More than 12 large vials of blood and around 7 or 8 small vials of blood were drawn.

Everything from thyroid, to glands, to... well, you can imagine.

Only one thing kept coming back, and it wasn't anything my doctor was actively looking for since he did not know my family's medical history.

The "thing" was rheumatoid arthritis.

What Triggers An Autoimmune Disorder?

To this day, neither I nor my doctors know what triggered the autoimmune disorder in my body. Thankfully it was detected early enough in my life that it hasn't caused as much damage as it would have had I not known it was there.

There are many theories out there regarding what triggers an autoimmune disorder. Not a single theory, thus far, is a match for me.

You see, at the time mine was "triggered", I was perfectly healthy, not smoking, had an excellent job, no stress, was single -- and enjoying it -- without a care in the world and had plenty of friends. In fact, for perhaps the first time in my life, I was actually at what could be considered a healthy weight for my age and height.

I've never been able to regain the weight. I've been underweight ever since the disorder was triggered inside my body.

Autoimmune Disorders and Allergies

There is something autoimmune disorders share in common with allergies. Where autoimmune disorders, when active, make the immune system attack healthy tissues in the body, in allergies, the immune system reacts to an external substance that would normally be harmless.

So it might be interesting to note that about the time my autoimmune disorder became active, I began experiencing a strong aversion to fermented beverages (such as grape juice and wines) and alcoholic beverages.

Just a few short years after my diagnosis I found I could no longer consume even a single drop of alcohol without getting very ill.

I've lived an alcohol free life for the past twenty years as a result.