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Autoimmune Diseases

Are you looking for an experienced specialist in the medical field of autoimmune diseases? Then, you will exclusively find specialists, clinics, and centers in your field in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland on the PRIMO MEDICO website.

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Specialists in Autoimmune Diseases

Information About the Field of Autoimmune Diseases

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases refer to a group of diseases in which the immune system attacks the body's substances or structures with the help of immune cells or antibodies. The reason for this is the lack of these structures' immunological tolerance. There are many different autoimmune diseases, but all cause continuous damage to the body, especially if left untreated. Some autoimmune diseases can be inherited within a family, whereas others are more likely to be new. Due to many different autoimmune diseases and the diversity of organ systems affected, it can be challenging to assign symptoms of affected individuals to a specific disease. Detailed medical care and some testing methods are usually necessary to make a definitive diagnosis.

What Are the Most Common Autoimmune Diseases?

Western civilization's most common autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. The thyroid gland can also be attacked by an autoimmune reaction, as is the case with Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Graves' disease. In multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis, damage occurs to the nervous system and associated tissue. Another important autoimmune disease is systemic lupus erythematosus, which can affect and damage almost every organ system in the body.

Causes and Symptoms

The exact development of autoimmune disease is not yet fully understood, but it seems to be favored by some factors. Therefore, it is assumed that genetic predisposition can lead to illnesses combined with external influences. These external influences include, for example, regular UV exposure, permanently elevated hormone levels, or previous diseases such as some viral infections.

As mentioned above, autoimmune diseases refer to a group of diseases that can affect and damage any body organ system. Accordingly, symptoms are numerous and often relatively nonspecific. General symptoms of an autoimmune disease may include fatigue, mild fever, or muscle pain. Specific symptoms vary significantly from disease to disease. Some disease-specific signs are listed below.

  • For example, essential symptoms of type 1 diabetes mellitus include severe thirst and frequent urination
  • In rheumatoid arthritis, there is often pain in the finger joints and morning stiffness that can last for up to an hour.
  • The intestinal diseases mentioned above often cause bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
  • Diseases of the thyroid gland can lead to increased sweating or hair loss due to the disturbed hormone balance.
  • If the nervous system is affected by an autoimmune disease, this is often manifested by tingling or numbness in the extremities.
  • In lupus erythematosus, the symptoms are all relatively nonspecific, as it can affect any organ system. However, a particularly noticeable sign is "butterfly eczema" around the nose and cheeks.

How Is an Autoimmune Disease Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of an autoimmune disease is usually relatively difficult. Some diseases, such as lupus erythematosus, are associated with specific antibodies in the blood that can be detected with a blood test. In other diseases, the diagnosis is based on the patient's clinical appearance. This is the case, for example, with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. An examination of hormones in the blood may also be necessary to detect hormone-altering autoimmune diseases. However, when an autoimmune disease is suspected, a holistic, detailed physical examination usually takes place to be able to exclude possible other triggers of the symptoms.

Which Therapies Are Available?

Most autoimmune diseases are treated symptomatically in combination with permanent drug-based immune regulation. Depending on the severity of the disease, the administration of glucocorticoids (a form of steroid hormone) controls and inhibits the inflammatory response triggered by the body. Glucocorticoids can be applied locally, such as creams, sprays, or tablets. In acute courses of the diseases, therapy may also be given with ibuprofen, diclofenac, or aspirin. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are not curable. For this reason, lifelong treatment with immediate medical care and counseling is necessary to enable life with the disease that is as symptom-free as possible.

Which Doctors and Clinics Are Specialized in Diagnosing and Treating Autoimmune Diseases?

As with most diseases, autoimmune disease is usually first suspected by the general practitioner and followed by a referral to an autoimmune disease specialist, depending on the disease. For example, diseases of the joints are treated by rheumatologists, diseases of the nerves by neurologists, and diseases of the skin by dermatologists. In the case of affected internal organs, internists can also be consulted. Usually, this results in the cooperation of several different specialties, which work together to treat the patient. However, permanent care usually continues to be provided by the general practitioner.

Every patient who needs a doctor wants the best medical care. Therefore, the patient is wondering where to find the best clinic. This question cannot be answered objectively, and a reliable doctor would never claim to be the best one, we can only rely on a doctor's experience.

We will help you find an expert for your condition. All listed doctors and clinics have been reviewed by us for their outstanding specialization in autoimmune diseases and are awaiting your inquiry or treatment request.

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