What are immune system disorders?
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend you against germs. Your immune system helps your body by recognizing germs, then working to keep them out or, if necessary, destroying them. But, if your immune system can’t do its job, the results can be serious. Disorders of the immune system include:
- Allergies and asthma: immune responses to substances that are usually not harmful
- Immune deficiency diseases: disorders in which the immune system is missing one or more of its parts
- Autoimmune diseases: an immune disorder that causes your immune system to attack your own body’s cells and tissues by mistake
What causes immune system disorders?
At this time, the underlying cause of immune system disorders is unknown. They tend to run in families, and women have been known to have higher risk factors, especially women who are of African, Hispanic or Native American descent.
What are the symptoms of immune system disorders?
There are more than 80 types of known immune diseases so it’s difficult to identify if you have one based on symptoms alone. There are also many similar symptoms from one disease to another. For this reason, diagnosing these disorders can be frustrating and stressful for you. Our physicians at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will take note of symptoms and prescribe certain diagnostic tests.
Early symptoms of an immune system disorder may be:
- Muscle aches
- Low-grade fever
- Inflammation, which may cause redness, heat, pain and swelling
These diseases may also have flare-ups where symptoms get worse, and remissions, where symptoms get better or disappear.
How does Ohio State treat immune system disorders?
Treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases, one important goal is to reduce inflammation. Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune response.