Autoimmunity is basically when the body’s immune system is attacking itself! This attack can be on any number of areas in the body and some autoimmune conditions are more debilitating than others. Whilst not all autoimmune conditions will reveal elevated antinuclear antibodies (ANA), many do and so this is one way of revealing if this is a problem for you. ANA levels can be elevated for years before symptoms appear and therefore can be part of a prevention strategy. If you have symptoms of fatigue, aches and pains which can’t really be explained then ANA levels should be on your testing checklist.
Causes of AUTOIMMUNITY
There seems to be a genetic tendency toward autoimmunity. Not everyone’s autoimmunity is triggered by the same things, below are some of the very important areas that we investigate to assess what the major cause might be:
- Digestive issues are one of the most important areas to zone in on with autoimmunity, you may or may not know you have issues in this area, and thats ok because there are fantastic tests that can reveal this information for us (see below).
- Infection can also trigger autoimmunity and this ties in with some of the digestive investigations but also may not be isolated to this area.
- There is research which shows an association between heavy metal exposure, which can also be tested.
- Hormones imbalances are often missed in autoimmune investigations, particularly estrogen and prolactin issues.
- Many people with autoimmunity can have a problem with gluten (the protein found in many grains), and while it can be tricky to establish celiac disease from non celiac gluten sensitivity, we do our best to establish this from the start as management is different. Its worth noting that the gold standard diagnosis of celiac disease can only be done via a biopsy (endoscopy) through a gastroenterologist, whilst there are many people who have gluten issues who are not celiacs its good to know where you fit.
- Allergies and food intolerances can play a role in autoimmune conditions beyond just a gluten problem.
Check out more info on autoimmunity here.