Autoimmune Disorders Essay

1630 words - 7 pages

The immune system consists of a defense system that shields the body against invasion from infections and other diseases. Normally, a healthy person's immune system has the ability to differentiate between its own cells and cells that represent threats to the health of the body. (Craft and Kanter, 2002). The term "autoimmune disease" refers to a wide-range of well over 80 acute, long-lasting diseases that involve nearly every organ in the body's system. With autoimmune diseases, the underlying issue is similar--the body's immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the precise organs it was intended to guard. As a result, the body's own defense mechanism produces antibodies that attack the body's own tissues and cells. Autoimmune diseases can also have an effect on connective tissue, including affecting the nerves, muscles, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal system.
Furthermore, autoimmune diseases are not communicable and cannot be transmitted to other people. Currently, there are around fifty million Americans who are suffering from autoimmune diseases in the U.S. Moreover, autoimmune diseases appear more prevalent among women than with men. Although, it is not race specific, it is more common among middle-aged and older individuals. What causes the immune system to malfunction is unknown. There is the potential that hormones may play a part in stimulating autoimmune diseases. What’s more, autoimmune diseases may even have a hereditary element. It also appears the disease is capable of clustering in families as distinct diseases; one family member may have arthritis, another may have diabetes, and another may have lupus. Continued research is shedding light into genetic, hormonal and environmental risk factors that may be causing these diseases. Possible exposure to certain things in the environment such as the sun, infections, drugs, or, in some cases, pregnancy, may cause the immune system to malfunction. Furthermore, it is believed that if an individual has a certain type of gene or combination of genes, this might put them at higher risk for autoimmune disorders. (Franz, 2006, Laberge, Davidson, 2007, Schwartz, 2007, Dugdale, 2009).
I decided to obtain additional information concerning autoimmune disorders when my six-year was diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia in September, 2010. His symptoms appeared rather suddenly. He experienced extreme weakness, an inability to walk without collapsing from sheer exhaustion, his gums were pale, and he had lost his appetite to eat. Normally he would be energetic and hyper, like most six-years. On September 1st, 2010, I took my six-year old to the doctor learn why he was so weak and what the underlying causes of his condition were. The doctor ordered a blood test referred to as a CBC test to analyze his blood cell count. A CBC blood test involves taking a small amount of blood and analyzing the number of red and white blood cells, and platelets in the blood. (Odle, 2006). The CBC...

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