We hear a lot about autoimmune disorders but what exactly is an autoimmune disorder? An autoimmune disorder is where a person’s body’s can no longer distinguish the difference between healthy body tissues and unhealthy body substances causing the body to attack both. For example, everyone has “good” bacteria that aids in digestion of food but a person with an autoimmune disorder would suffer attacks from their body on that good bacteria, causing all types of complications. Symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders include fatigue, fever and weakness. This is because the white blood cells in autoimmune disorders are attacking healthy systems and organs.
Several types of disease fall under the autoimmune disorder classification, as well as allergies and asthma. The most commonly known by the general public are rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis. Some of the lesser known disorders include Guillian-Barre syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis and vasculitis. In the case of allergies, the immune response is reacting to an outward influence; while with the vast majority of disorders the immune system is reacting to an internal source.
All of the above conditions must be diagnosed by a licensed physician, of course. But DirectLabs® offers several tests that aid physicians in the diagnosis of most of these conditions. Some tests used are: 1) Sedimentation Rate (screen for inflammation); 2) Complete Blood Count (CBC) (elevated white cells could mean inflammation); 3) Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) (checks for autoimmune disorders); or, 4) C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Quantitative (a test for inflammation).
Written by Theresa B. Tannich, Special Projects, DirectLabs®, LLC, February 28, 2012.