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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.  


Addison's Disease:  Addison's Disease is adrenal hypo function, originating in the adrenal gland itself.  More than 90% of the adrenal gland must be destroyed before the disease occurs.  This usually results from an autoimmune process.  

Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, weight loss, various gastrointestinal disturbances, and a bronze coloration to the skin.  Corticosteroid replacement is the major treatment and must continue for life.

Ankylosing Spondylitis:  This is am inflammatory disease of the spine, found more commonly in men.  It destroys the bone and cartilage and then leads to fibrous tissue formation.  The end result is the fusion of the spine or peripheral joints.  Ankylosing Spondylitis usually begins at the base of the spine and works its way up.  Women tend to have more of the peripheral joint manifestations and it is harder to diagnose in women.

Arthritis:  A generalized term meaning inflammation of the joints.  There are over 170 types of arthritis now identified, some are of an autoimmune origin and some are not.

Asthma:  Asthma is a chronic, reactive airway disorder characterized by wheezing and difficulty breathing.  Asthma may be caused by allergies or by internal conditions.

Autoimmunity:   Autoimmunity is a cause of a disease and is also called etiology. This is a name given to the immune system when it responds contrary. When contrariness is directed to the body  then a disease is caused. There is at least 67 autoimmune diseases known, but the sad part is that more are being discovered. The Medical community began to grow in the middle ages. Due to the level of sophistication, they classified a disease according to body parts (anatomically). When Louis Pasteur made his major discoveries a 100 years ago understanding came to the medical community as to why a disease occurs in the body,  occurs, cause, etc... means etiology. Medical technology now know of some bacteria and some viruses and some parasites that cause a disease and can help the body  to resist many diseases. World War II ear marked a time when antibiotics and such were introduced. And, with that discovery, a way of treating and curing a few diseases.

Autoimmune Hepatitis:  It is an inflammation of the liver due to the autoimmune disease. It usually occurs by itself, but can be present with other autoimmune diseases. Women have 8 times more frequency of occurrence than men. Diagnosis  is made by a combination of clinical findings, including;  medical history, blood studies and liver biopsy. Symptoms  are variable from one person to another. The most common include liver inflammation resulting in jaundice which is manifested as a yellowing of the white of the eyes and skin, upper right abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, joint pain, spider veins, swollen ankles, nausea, fatigue and an enlarged spleen.

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Bullous Pemphigoid:  Bullous Pemphigoid is an autoimmune disease. This means that the cells in the body that normally fight infection or germs attack the skin cells, causing blisters. The blisters are large and can occur anywhere on the skin but are more common on the skin fold areas such as the groin and armpits. It can also involve the mouth .   It is somewhat rare as it only involves about 15 to 20 % of people.

Clusters of blisters usually appear first, then burst, leaving patches of raw skin which burns and often gives off an offensive odor.  If the disease progresses untreated, the patient often loses weight, experiences extreme weakness, prostration and shock, which is accompanied by fever, chills sweating and fever.  Pneumonia often occurs.  Untreated, it often leads to death, but can be controlled with medication.   (webmaster's note:  The first part of this definition is taken directly from  a member's story, as it is an excellent definition of the condition.)

Biliary Cirrhosis:    Biliary cirrhosis results from prolonged obstruction or injury.  It is a chronic disease that alters liver structure by the build up of fibrotic and then necrotic tissue.  Blood and lymph flow are altered and it can lead to hepatic insufficiency.

Symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms, abdominal ache, respiratory and central nervous system problems, easy bleeding and bruising, endocrine gland and skin problems and other miscellaneous problems.

Bursitis:  Bursae are small fluid filled sacs which enable the motion of tendons and muscles over bony prominences to be smooth.  Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursae, occurs from reoccurring stress or from an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

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Cardiomyopathy:  The heart enlarges and  does not pump the blood properly resulting in a low blood volume ejecting from the heart.  Due to this an abnormal amount of  blood remains in the left side of the heart which usually results in congestive heart failure (CHF).  The heart becomes large and has an abnormal shape with damaged muscle fibers.  Prognosis is usually poor.  There are many causes of cardiomyopathy, connective tissue diseases being one of them.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:  Carpal tunnel syndrome results from nerve entrapment at the wrist, caused by inflammation or fibrosis (scar tissue) of the tendon sheaths.  This often affects a person's ability to perform their job because it results in sensory and motor changes in the hand.

Crohn's Disease:  With Crohn's Disease there is inflammation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract.  It includes all layers of the intestinal wall and regional lymph nodes.  The cause is unknown but allergies, immunologic disorders, infection, lymphatic disorders or genetic predisposition have been suspected.  Abscesses, ulcerations, fistulas and stenosis can occur.  Symptoms may mimic appendicitis with lower right abdominal pain, cramping, nausea fever and diarrhea.  Bleeding may occur.  Treatment is based upon symptoms.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:  (CFIDS)(CFID) A condition where extreme fatigue is the primary symptom.  The disease cause is unknown, but believed to be related to the herpesviruses, enteroviruses or retrovirsues.  Antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus usually result.  It is believed that CFIDS MAY be a result of an improper immune response to one of these viruses.  No cause has been determined at this time.

Chronic Hepatitis:  Hepatitis is an enlargement of the liver with cell degeneration and death, and loss of appetite.  There are several different types of hepatitis, each with their own peculiarities.  When hepatitis is chronic, it can lead to liver failure and coma, resulting in death.

Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction:  (CIP)  This is a condition caused by a dysfunction of the nerves or muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, causing abnormal gastrointestinal motility.  It is a severe, life threatening condition and often affects children.  Because of the dysfunction of the gastro intestinal tract, feedings are often done by "feeding tubes" and IV treatments are often needed.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF):  There are two types of CHF, right and left sided.  It is caused by a dysfunction of the heart resulting in "pump" damage.  Depending upon the type, symptoms may vary from edema (water retention) in the lower extremities to shortness of breath, wheezing, high blood pressure, abdominal distention, nausea and vomiting.  There are various other symptoms depending upon type.  With proper treatment the outlook is good, depending upon the underlying disease that produced the heart failure.

Costochondritis:  This is inflammation of the cartilage around the ribs.

Cyroglobulinemia:  The presence of an abnormal globulin in the body that precipitates at low temperatures, resulting in hives, etc.  Not much information is available about this autoimmune condition.

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