What are the effects of Auto-immune diseases on children of various ages?
For my first round of research, I have decided to dig deep into what Auto-immune diseases are in order to create a general understanding in order to build into our main question.
What is the general meaning of auto-immune disease and what classifies diseases as Auto-immune?
If you were to look in the dictionary you would get a general meaning along the lines of “a disease resulting from a disordered immune reaction in which antibodies are produced against one’s own tissues, like systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis” (1). In more simple terms, it is when your immune system begins to attack your own body as opposed to external sicknesses and bacteria. Although there are over 80 autoimmune diseases known, it is still unknown why your immune system begins attacking itself. Although, some believe that the origin of such diseases stems from microorganisms that might alter or confuse the immune system into attacking itself (2).
Autoimmune diseases can have different results, some may abnormally enlarge an organ, destroy an organ, destroy muscle tissue, while others might change the way organs function. Due to the rigorous variety of such diseases and the lack of information on them, currently, there are no cures for any autoimmune disease known, however, medication and medical procedures do exist to maintain symptoms and help some function more normally in their daily lives (3). Your immune system depends on the environment which you grew up with, the food you eat, the bacteria you are exposed to and intricate details of your personal life, because of this a cure is virtually impossible because every autoimmune disease reacts in different ways and every disease (depending on the person) can progress at different rates and routes. Knowing this, most individuals who have to take medication for their diseases have uniquely different treatments depending on how a certain disease is progressing within them (1).
In the next paragraph, you will learn about some common and uncommon autoimmune diseases, their symptoms and what information we have on them but two words will be commonly used. Disorder and disease, now what is the difference between the two? A disease is distinct and measurable, while a disorder is more of a case basis disease that an individual has that goes into a certain category, more or less a disease that is specific but there is no clinical evidence of the diagnosis. A disorder is also more wide-ranging and can cause disorder to a bodily structure or function while a disease is a response to internal and/or external factors (4).
Some common autoimmune diseases are (5)…
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
The most common of all, most often affecting those who are older in age. It is caused by inflammation of one or more joints. Symptoms include swelling and muscle pain.
- Type 1 diabetes
Although it can be diagnosed later in an age when an individual is over 40, type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed during the ages 13-15. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that makes your immune system attack your pancreas and its insulin-making cells. Symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst, intense fatigue, blurred vision, and extreme hunger among many.
A disease that makes you have different pigmented patches on your skin, lighter than your usual complexion. The different patches are caused by the lack of melanocytes cells which create melanin, because of this some patches on your skin will be lighter than others. Vitiligo is most commonly diagnosed early during 10-30 years of age as the distinct result of the disease makes it easy to diagnose. Symptoms include patchy loss of skin colour, premature whitening of hair, and loss of colour in your eyelashes and eyebrows.
Some uncommon autoimmune diseases are (7)…
- Kawasaki disease
Most common in children, Kawasaki disease is when inflammation is caused in small to medium walled blood vessels. Commonly leading to inflammation in the coronary arteries, which can lead to severe heart diseases as the coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This disease affects 1 in 10,000 kids under 5 years old every year.
2. Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM)
This disease affects the muscle, skin and blood vessels. This disease is most diagnosed (although auto-immune diseases are still very rare) in children. It is when the immune system begins to attack the muscle, skin, and blood vessels thinking they are bad for the body. Because of this disease, the patient will have intense rashes and muscle weakness because of their overactive immune system. Symptoms include violet/red rashes, raised bumps on knuckles, swollen joints, and fatigue among many(8).
Also known as systemic sclerosis and separated into two categories ‘systemic scleroderma’ which affects the skin and tissues under it and ‘localised scleroderma’ which only affects the skin and not major organs. This rare autoimmune disease causes the affected skin to harden and tighten, making the skin abnormally thick. This disease is most commonly diagnosed within the ages of 2-14, although the diagnosis can also be made during the mid-’40s as well. There are currently no cures but medication is available to contain the symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life.
Hope this was as informative to you as it was for me and see you next time!!
- Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Autoimmune disease definition & meaning. Dictionary.com. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/autoimmune-disease
- medicine plus. (2022, February 18). Autoimmune disorders: Medlineplus medical encyclopaedia. MedlinePlus. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000816.htm
- Watson, S. (2019, March 26). Autoimmune diseases: Types, symptoms, causes & more. Healthline. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders#bottom-line
- Martin, C. (2021, January 9). Disease vs. disorder: What is the difference? Verywell Health. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/disease-vs-disorder-5092243
- Cunha, J. P. (2019, April 4). What is the most common autoimmune disease? eMedicineHealth. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.emedicinehealth.com/ask_what_is_the_most_common_autoimmune_disease/article_em.htm
- mayo clinic. (2020, April 10). Vitiligo. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitiligo/symptoms-causes/syc-20355912
- Larson, J. (2021, July 22). 10 rare autoimmune diseases that don’t get enough attention. Parade. Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://parade.com/1072693/jenniferlarson/rare-autoimmune-diseases/
- Juvenile dermatomyositis: Symptoms, causes, treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (2019, January 17). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14808-juvenile-dermatomyositis
- clinic, mayo. (2022, January 27). Scleroderma. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/scleroderma/symptoms-causes/syc-20351952