When our own immune system mistakenly attacks and kills our healthy tissue, then this condition is known as an autoimmune disorder. There are many types of autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus Erythematosus, Cogan's Syndrome, Allergic Angiitis, Anti-GBM Disease, Giant Cell Arteritis etc.
Our white blood cells help protect us from antigens (bacteria, viruses, cancer cells etc.). Our immune system responds to these antigens by producing antibodies to kill these antigens. If a person suffers from an autoimmune disorder, then his/her immune system is not able to differentiate between healthy tissue and the antigens this results in an immune response, which kills the normal tissues in our body or results in an abnormal organ growth or changes the normal function of an organ.
You can imagine how dreadful this condition can be for a person who is suffering from an autoimmune disorder. The exact cause for autoimmune disorder is not clear. Common symptoms of this disorder are fatigue, malaise, fever and difficulty in concentrating. There is no definite cure for this condition. The main aim of treatment is managing and relieving the symptoms and preventing flare-ups.
Given below is a brief summary on some of the autoimmune disorders which we have covered in our section. To read more, please refer under our AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER INFORMATION CENTER on the side menu where you can find causes, symptoms, investigations, and treatment or management of the condition in great detail.
Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus is a type of disorder, which is characterized by symptoms resembling that of lupus. The cause of Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus is using certain medications for a long time that produce side-effects. Symptoms resemble systemic lupus erythematosus and include: Pain and swelling in the joints and muscles; Fatigue, fever, serositis, abnormal laboratory test results, arthritis, joint pain, inflammation of the lungs, heart and muscle pain.
Drugs which are believed to cause Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus are: Procainamide, Hydralazine and Quinidine. Other medicines which may cause Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus (DILE) include: Antihypertensives, neuropsychiatric medications, heart medications, medications for thyroid disease, certain antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents. Treatment is done by discontinuing the medication which is causing this disorder.
Tests Done for Confirming Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus (DILE) are:
- Antihistone antibody.
- Antinuclear antibody panel.
- Chest x-ray
This is a condition where there is inflammation of blood vessels resulting in restricted blood flow to the tissues and vital organs. Asthma is the commonest symptom of this disease. The exact cause is not known. It could be caused by changing medications from low-dose oral systemic steroids to inhaled steroid medications. This syndrome commonly affects individuals in the age group of 38 to 52 years. Previous history of asthma, nasal allergies and chronic sinusitis puts an individual at a higher risk for Churg Strauss syndrome.
Symptoms consist of Fever, weight loss, inflammation of nasal passage, weakness, dyspnea, chest pain, cough, nodules or skin lumps on the extremities, abdominal pain, diarrhea, prostatitis, cystitis, weakness and numbness of the extremities, seizures and confusion.
As of now, there is no proper treatment available for Churg Strauss syndrome. The aim of treatment is alleviating the symptoms and preventing relapses. Medications used for this include: Corticosteroids, Immunosuppressive Drugs and Intravenous Immunoglobulin.
This is a rare syndrome or disease. Cogan's syndrome is a type of rheumatic disease in which there is inflammation of the eyes and ears resulting in hearing loss, vision difficulty and dizziness. The exact cause of the Cogan's syndrome is not known. Probable causes include: Autoimmune disease and a bacteria. Symptoms are: Photophobia, red eyes, distorted vision, rapid onset of hearing loss, poor balance, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fever and fatigue. Treatment comprises of using anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, oral antibiotics, diuretic medications, antihistamines, cochlear implants and corneal transplant. Surgery is done in severe cases.
Investigations for Diagnosing Cogan's Syndrome are:
- ESR (sedimentation rate).
- Ferritin level.
- Complete blood count (CBC).
- C-reactive protein.
- Liver function tests.
- ANA test and rheumatoid factor.
- CT scan.
- HIV testing.
- Abdominal ultrasound.
Lupus erythematosus is a set of disorders which contains discoid lupus erythematosus. The primary indication or symptom of lupus erythematosus is an uncommon rash which worsens upon exposure to sunlight. The exact cause is not known. Suspected causes include an autoimmune disorder. Risk factors include: having a family history, excessive exposure to sunlight and cigarette smoke. Symptoms consist of rash on the scalp, scars, skin discoloration, crusty lesions, hair loss, Raynaud's phenomenon, sun sensitivity, pain in the joints, skin itching and swelling, pale/ blue lips, tachycardia, breathlessness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat and inability to urinate.
Treatment comprises of corticosteroids, topical application of steroid creams, cortisone injections, anti-malarial medicines, psoriasis medication, oral steroids and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS). Surgery or laser treatment is done to remove lesions.
For more information about this condition, please refer to our side menu and read under our AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER INFORMATION CENTER
Giant cell arteritis is a condition where the lining in the subdivided arteries gets inflamed causing swelling and diminished blood flow. The exact cause behind this is unknown. Risk factors include old age, being a woman, and having polymyalgia rheumatica. Symptoms are flu like symptoms, muscle aches, stiffness of hips and shoulders, tiredness, fever, headaches, jaw pain, profuse sweating, fever, pain and stiffness in the neck, upper arms, shoulders and hips, appetite loss, weight loss, lethargy, double vision, scalp sensitivity etc.
Treatment for Giant Cell Arteritis consists of reducing the tissue damage, giving medications like oral corticosteroids, aspirin and sometimes immunosuppressants.
This is a rare autoimmune dysfunction involving sudden worsening of lung disease and kidney failure. Goodpasture's syndrome is often caused by acute glomerulonephritis and buildup of pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage and acute glomerulonephritis. Risk factors include: Genetic predisposition, exposure to hydrocarbons, metal dusts and organic solvents, smoking, renal transplantation in Alport syndrome and infections like influenza. Symptoms are: Loss of appetite, coughing blood, weakness, fatigue, hematuria, dry cough, burning urination, pallor, dyspnea, swelling, nausea and vomiting. The aim of treatment is eliminating the harmful antibodies which are present in the blood by doing plasmapheresis. Medications like steroids, angiotensin receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors are given accordingly. Dialysis may be needed if there is renal failure.
Investigations for Diagnosing Goodpasture's Syndrome are:
- Chest x-ray.
- Anti-glomerular basement membrane test.
- Arterial blood gas.
- Lung biopsy.
- Kidney biopsy.
- Serum creatinine.
Other Autoimmune Disorder Topics Which are Covered in This Section:
- Behcet's Disease or Behcet's Syndrome
- Hashimoto's Disease or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Sjogren's Syndrome
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Graves' Disease or Basedow-Graves Disease
- Pernicious Anemia or Addison–Biermer Anemia
- Antiphospholipid Syndrome or Hughes Syndrome