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Disclaimer: These  are not intended to replace medical advice or explanation from your medical doctors.  Please consult your physician for information regarding your own care. 


Degenerative Disk Disease:  (DDD) (DJD) Degenerative Disk is not an auotimmune illness.  Technically it is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the spine causes the disks to degenerate and frequently herniate.  Stenosis often occurs causing a narrowing of the spinal opening.  In severe cases this can lead to impingement of the spinal chord itself.  When pressure to the chord develops, paralysis is a possibility and surgical intervention becomes necessary.  Milder cases can often be treated conservatively.

Dermatomyositis:  This is a diffuse myopathy of the muscles accompanied by a rash.  It causes extreme muscular weakness and has frequent exacerbations and remissions.  It can be complicated by malignancy, respiratory disease and heart failure.  The prognosis worsens with age.

Diabetes Mellitus:  This is a chronic  disease caused by lack of insulin produced by the pancreas or by the body's resistance to that insulin.  As a result carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism are disturbed.  Insulin use by the body is essential to life.  There are several forms of diabetes and more research is being done continually.   The side effects of diabetes are many and can be life threatening.  Medication, exercise and strict dietary monitoring is essential.

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Fibromyalgia:  (FM) (FMS) FM is a chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons-the fibrous tissues in the body. In addition to pain and fatigue, other symptoms include unrefreshed sleep, irritable bowel, chronic headaches, morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairments, reduced coordination and decreased endurance.

Although pain and fatigue are the two major symptoms of FMS, other symptoms vary from individual to individual. They include: Muscular Pain: 100% Fatigue: 96% Insomnia: 86% Joint Pain: 72% Headaches: 60% Restless Legs: 56% Numbness and Tingling: 52% Impaired Memory: 46% Leg Cramps: 42% Impaired Concentration: 41% Nervousness: 32% Major Depression: 20% (3).

In 1990 the newly established diagnostic criteria for FM stated that a patient had to have a history of widespread pain for at least three months and pain in at least 11 of the 18 specifically located tender points. These along with other symptoms help distinguish FM from other conditions.

There is no cure for FM. Current treatments vary from patient to patient, but normally work towards improving sleep and eliminating pain.

Doctors recommend: low doses of medicines that increase levels of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that regulate sleep, pain and immune system function), non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain, trigger point injections with lidocaine, physical therapy, acupuncture & acupressure, relaxation techniques, and gentle exercise.

Since the onset of FMS can be abrupt, a person life can be virtually completely altered in a very short period of time. The majority of FMS suffers are physically active, high achievers who live very productive lives. From the onset of the illness, the pain and fatigue impair a person from living the life they are accustom to. Many FMers have to stop working, quit doing physical activities and even become socially isolated. The pain and fatigue can place a person in bed unable to function. The emotional ramifications are many. Getting a diagnosis can be difficult, so that causes a reaction of great fear and frustration. Many patients are made to feel like "it's their fault", which undermines their self confidence and overall attitudes. People don't like being around a person who is chronically ill, so many lose the support of friends and family. Because of the lack of information about this disease most patients are unable to get any kind of disability. Supporting one's self becomes a major concern. Learning to live with irritating symptoms like constant pain, ringing in your ears, muscle spasms, concentration problems, and insomnia can be overwhelming. A sufferer of FM has to learn a completely new way of life.

Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia:  Folic acid anemia may result from alcohol abuse, poor diet, impaired absorption, bacteria, excessive cooking of foods, prolonged drug therapy, rapid growth as is seen during pregnancy or infancy and in patients with cancer or some skin diseases.

Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, sore tongue, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, fainting, irritability, forgetfulness, paleness and jaundice.  Treatment includes supplemental folic acid and a diet high in folic acid.

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Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease Syndrome: (GERDS)  This is not an autoimmune condition, however, many of us suffer from it, Primarily due to our medications and the irritation they cause.  Any condition that increases intra-abdominal pressure, such as a hiatal hernia, different drugs, can contribute to GERDS.  Most commonly, heartburn is the presenting feature and patients are encouraged to sit upright for at least 15 minutes after eating.  Occasionally regurgitation is severe and even occurs while the patient sleeps, causing the patient to awake coughing and choking.  Occasionally repair of the hiatal hernia (if present) may have to be performed.

Gilbert's Disease:  This is a disease causing increased bilirubin levels.  It is usually benign and hereditary.  Symptoms include intermittent jaundice, fatigue, weakness and abdominal pain.

 Glaucoma:  Glaucoma (not an autoimmune illness) is caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye. When the fluid in the eye cannot drain properly, pressure in the eye increases. This pressure can damage the optic nerve. Most people have no symptoms until they begin to lose some vision. However, one type of Glaucoma called Acute-Closure Glaucoma, can cause the following symptoms:  blurred vision, eye pain, headache, haloes around lights and nausea. The disease is treated with eyedrops, oral medication or a combination of both.  

Usually, glaucoma is detected on a routine visit to the optometrist or ophthalmologist.  Everyone should have the pressure in their eyes checked on a regular basis.

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Hashimoto's Thyroiditis:  An autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto's causes Inflammation and lymphocytic infiltration.  It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism and most commonly occurs in women.  In this case the lowered thyroid hormones must be replaced orally.

Hemochromatosis:  (HH) A disease where the body accumulates too much iron and simply cannot remove it leading to an enlarged heart, cirrhosis of the liver, changes in skin pigmentation, congestive heart failure and irregular heart rates.  If caught and treated early, complications can be prevented.  If not treated early, the outcome is usually fatal.  Treatment is simply removal of blood at various times when the iron level gets too high.

Hiatal Hernia:  This is actually a defect in the diaphragm which allows part of the stomach to pass through into the chest.  There are many causes.  Treatment is not needed unless symptoms occur and then surgical intervention is usually required.

Hypertension:  Hypertension simply means elevated blood pressure.  This can be due to a variety of causes and if persistent and severe must be treated with medication.

Hypothyroidism:  Hypothyroidism results from inadequate production of the thyroid hormones.  This can be caused by chronic thyroiditis, amyloidosis, sarcoidosis, pituitary gland failure, inborn errors of thyroid hormone syntheses, removal or irradtion of the thyroid gland.

Early signs of hypothyroidism are fatigue, forgetfulness, sensitivity to cold, weight gain and constipation.  These symptoms plus other more serious problems will occur if the thyroid hormone is not replaced.  Thyroid hormone treatment must continue for life.

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Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura: (ITP)  Low platelet counts and prolonged bleeding times are the hallmarks of this disease.     It is believed that there are antibodies that destroy the platelets in our blood.  Platelets are necessary for our blood to clot.  There are two forms, acute and chronic.  The acute form usually follows a viral infection, such as chicken pox or rubells and can be know to follow the immunizations.  This form usually strikes children between ages 2 and 6.  Prognosis is excellent for this form.

Chronic ITP is usually linked to other immunologic disorders, such as lupus or to drug reactions.  This mainly strikes adults under the age of 50.  Hemorrhages are usually the only symptom and can occur in the lungs, kidneys or brain.  Prognosis is good, especially among women.  Cortisone treatment or the removal of the spleen are used in treatment as well as IV gamma globulin and immunosuppresent drugs.

Interstitial Lung Disease:  (ILD) There are over 130 different ILD's.  All mean the lungs have been affected by a disease process, starting with inflammation and leading to stiffness and loss of the lung tissue's ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.  

Different areas of the lung tissue can be affected.  This is a frequent result of severe collagen vascular diseases and diagnosis requires testing and the expertise of a team of doctors, including a pulmonologist.  Please see pulmonary fibrosis. 

Iron Deficiency Anemia:  This  occurs from inadequate production of iron which results in smaller red blood cells which carry less oxygen to the body tissues.  Symptoms include fatigue, paleness, irritability, headache, difficulty breathing and occasionally pica, which is the desire to eat strange things, such as paint chips.

Causes may include poor dietary intake of iron, iron malabsorption, such as that which occurs with chronic diarrhea, blood loss, pregnancy or a mechanical trauma such as is seen with heart valvular problems.  Various medications can also interfere with iron production.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):  A condition marked by alternating diarrhea and constipation.  Often there is much cramping and mucus is frequently visible in the stool.   

Causes include stress, diverticular disease, ingestion of irritants, lactose intolerance, abuse of laxatives, food poisoning or colon cancer.

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This page was last updated on 04/23/2005 .
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