Why are Autoimmune Issues
Becoming So Rampant?

Article by Dr. Chad Larson, narrated by Charles Griffin

Video Transcription:

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with an autoimmune (AI) condition? If so, you might be wondering if the incidence of autoimmunity is increasing. Well, the truth is these conditions really aren't becoming more prevalent - problems associated with autoimmune response have always been here - we're just identifying them better. We're also recognizing more health conditions as autoimmune, when previously they were not known to be autoimmune in origin.

While genetics and environmental factors affect our predisposition to, and development of, allergies, sensitivities and autoimmune responses, there's a lot more to it. Through ongoing studies, we have learned much about the way our bodies respond to different foods, antigens and environmental factors. Not only have we learned that immune responses can be triggered by sensitivities and intolerances in addition to the more commonly termed "allergies," but we have learned that there are different ways our bodies can respond to these triggers, either immediate or delayed.

Immediate Immune Response

Immediate immune responses usually appear within just a few minutes of exposure to something that the immune system rejects. When you think of an allergic reaction, for example, you might imagine one's face swelling up, body breaking out in hives or throat tightening up and causing breathing difficulty. These are immediate, or type I hypersensitivity responses to antigens (allergens) that the body mistakenly recognizes as harmful and works to attack or fight off. Nuts and shellfish are examples of common allergens that would cause these immediate reactions.

Delayed Immune Response

There are also delayed responses, which usually occur 48-72 hours after exposure and can be seen in such forms as contact dermatitis, like a poison ivy rash, or granulomatous inflammation, as with Crohn's Disease. Delayed immune responses - types II, III and IV hypersensitivity - cannot always be seen and often make it more difficult to identify sensitivities or intolerances that could be causing harm and ultimately leading to autoimmune diseases. Delayed autoimmune responses usually occur when the immune system produces autoantibodies that begin to attack the body's own tissues.

Stay tuned for our next installment in this series, when we'll discuss the three common types of autoimmune reactions, along with some promising new research that may lead to the ability to predict autoimmune diseases.

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