Sometimes, your immune system may not recognize the healthy tissues in your body and attack them by thinking them to be foreign bodies or antigens. This is when you can acquire an autoimmune disease.
There are two types of autoimmune diseases: Systemic and Localized. The systemic ones tend to spread to various organs from your skin to your kidneys as well as the heart. On the other hand, the localized autoimmune diseases have an effect on a particular body organ like thyroid, liver or the adrenal glands.
The autoimmune diseases can have effect on any body part, such as it can affect your joints, blood vessels, red blood cells, connective tissues, muscles or even your endocrine glands (like pancreas or thyroid). Even children could be affected by autoimmune diseases.
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Some of the very common autoimmune diseases that can be seen in children include liver disease, coeliac disease, Addison's disease, AT(or autoimmune thyroiditis), juvenile arthritis (JA), juvenile scleroderma, type 1 diabetes, Kawasaki's disease, MAS (or multiple autoimmune syndrome), paediatric lupus (SLE), etc.
The symptoms of autoimmune diseases partly depend on the disease pathology because they might be either organ specific or general. The general symptoms have the maximum probability to emerge in the very beginning, whereas the other unique abnormalities might appear later.
The very first symptoms should be taken as clear signs when observed in children. Some of the very common symptoms of autoimmune diseases are as follows:
Dry mouth or dry eyes
Diffuse joint pain
Specific symptoms would depend on the affected body parts, whereas the general symptoms would make your child not feel well. Fatigue and rashes are very general symptoms that can happen to any age group among children.
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Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases
The primary aim of treatment of the autoimmune disease is to alleviate the symptoms, to control the damage because of the disease and to retain the ability of the child's body to combat the disease.
Following are some of the common methods of treatment for autoimmune diseases:
In kidney and liver disorders, blood transfusion becomes necessary for your child because the body stops producing enough blood.
Your doctor may suggest some supplements to replace the insulin, hormones (like thyroid) or vitamins in your kid's body.
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If your kid has an autoimmune disease, which is associated with joints, muscles or bones, then a physical therapy is very essential for him/her to reinforce the muscles and help his/her body parts to move easily.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medicines
These kind of drugs are basically painkillers like naproxen and ibuprofen. They help relieve the stiffness, ache and swelling in the child's body. They have the ability to suppress the pain triggered by specific diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. However, the dosages will be as per the physician's prescriptions.
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These are the hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands. These hormones come in the form of injections, lotions, tablets and inhalers. These medicines are very powerful and hence only tiny doses are prescribed by the doctors, because taking high doses may result in side effects that can continue for longer periods. An example of such a drug is Prednisone. Some other kinds of treatments include Intravenous Immunoglobulin or IVIg, biologics and DMARDs.
Sometimes, the treatment may depend on the type of autoimmune disease your child has. For instance, in a case of Crohn's disease (bowel obstruction) or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, your child may need a surgery.
Another such rare treatment is plasmapheresis, which is a method to eradicate plasma. Plasma mainly carries antibodies in your blood. Only in severe cases, the doctor suggests this procedure because plasmapheresis also helps the body to get rid of the antibodies that may be triggering the autoimmune response in the body of the child.