Have you ever heard someone say that they have an autoimmune disease?
Many people scratch their head when they hear the term “autoimmune.”
What does this word mean exactly? You might recognize that there’s a link to the immune system. But what’s the connection? And does an autoimmune disorder somehow correlate to diabetes?
How Our Immune System Can Turn Into Our Autoimmune System
What is an autoimmune disease?
To thoroughly understand this type of condition, we need to understand the immune system. This is a system in our body that is responsible for attacking foreign bodies, like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The goal is to prevent serious illness.
Sometimes, though, the body turns against itself. The immune system’s antibodies or lymphocytes view cells that are supposed to be there as foreign and attacks them. This is called an autoimmune disorder or disease. The body is literally attacking itself, and in some serious cases, killing itself.
The autoimmune disease can destroy tissues in the body, change organ function, and cause the abnormal growth of certain tissues and organs. Nearly every part of the body is susceptible to attack, including the endocrine glands, connective tissues, joints, muscles, skin, and blood.
There are numerous autoimmune disorders, some of which you may be familiar.
- Celiac disease
- Graves disease
- Hashimoto thyroiditis
- Pernicious anemia
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
Is Type 2 Diabetes Considered an Autoimmune Disease?
Type 1 diabetes, that which children get, is considered an autoimmune disease because the body’s lymphocytes view insulin as a foreign substance. Therefore, they attack the insulin, making it impossible for glucose in the blood to enter the cells and be utilized as energy.
The result is a buildup of blood glucose, or diabetes.
There are two types of adult onset diabetes. One is called latent autoimmune diabetes, or LADA. This is basically type 1 diabetes that takes a long time to manifest itself. Instead of causing symptoms during childhood, this type of diabetes slowly develops and manifests in adulthood.
LADA is considered an autoimmune condition.
What about type 2 diabetes?
Some researchers believe that type 2 diabetes should definitely be classified as an autoimmune disease instead of a metabolic disorder. Why do they feel this way?
Think about it: What is an autoimmune disease? It’s the body misidentifying natural cells as foreign ones and attacking them.
Some scientific studies have shown that insulin resistance is caused by mature B cells, as well as other immune cells, attacking the body.
Scientists are excited at these findings as it will change the way doctors treat diabetes, which could make treatment more successful.
Can an Autoimmune Disorder Be Treated Successfully?
With the body attacking itself, it’s no wonder that people question whether there are successful treatment options available or not.
There are a number of things you and your doctor can do if you have an autoimmune disease like diabetes.
First, talk to your doctor about whether you’re a candidate for oral medications or insulin.
Second, visit your doctor regularly so that they can closely monitor your blood glucose levels. With regular appointments, your doctor will be able to take quick action if you’re not responding to medication or your blood sugar is out of control.
Next, make sure you monitor your glucose levels at home on a daily basis. This will help you determine whether you need to make some changes in your diet or exercise program, or if you need to call your doctor for an emergency visit.
Finally, treat one of the underlying contributing factors to a number of autoimmune diseases: Inflammation.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, reducing bodily inflammation can reduce your symptoms tremendously. He recommends doing this by:
- Checking for hidden infections, like Lyme disease or other viruses, bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections
- Checking for food allergies and sensitivities, then removing those foods from your diet
- Exercise every day
- Reduce stress with yoga or meditation
- Try natural supplements like Vitamin C and D, fish oil, and probiotics.
Don’t Lose Hope – You Have More Control over Your Health Than You May Think
People with autoimmune diseases have to be extra vigilant when it comes to their health, though this can be difficult at first. Receiving this type of diagnosis can make you feel as if your fate, your life, your health are all out of your hands.
While there are some symptoms that will have to be endured, people with autoimmune disorders have more control over their health than they may think.
However, making changes to your diet, adding some exercise into the mix, and incorporating meditation and other self-care practices can help bring some normalcy to your life.
Additionally, view your doctor as your partner. Ask for their input regarding medications and which healthy practices to incorporate into your life.
Take this approach to your life after an autoimmune disease diagnosis and you’ll feel like your health is back in your control.