IV Infusion & Autoimmune Diseases

November 20, 2023

What is an autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s healthy cells. There are over 100 autoimmune diseases, affecting over 50 million individuals in America alone. Common autoimmune diseases including lupus, Hashimoto’s, Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, and more recently, autoimmune pancreatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and autoimmune encephalitis, have been discovered and studied. 

Uncommon facts about autoimmune diseases:

Living with autoimmune diseases places individuals in challenging positions, dealing with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, affecting different parts and functionalities of the body. Below is a list of facts about autoimmune diseases many people often do not know. 

What causes an autoimmune disease? 

Medical professionals and scientists do not have a definitive answer to this question. They do not yet fully understand the immune system and what causes the body’s immune system to attack itself. However, they have studied it long enough to address and know several triggers that play a role in the development of an autoimmune disease and/or the ignition of characteristic symptoms. Bacteria, viruses, hormones, environmental toxins, stress, and some drugs may trigger an autoimmune response in a person who is already predisposed (genetic inheritance) to develop an autoimmune disease. 

Classifications of Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are traditionally classified as either organ-specific diseases or non-organ-specific types. For organ-specific diseases, autoimmune activity is targeted towards one organ. For example, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis targets the thyroid gland, Addison’s disease targets the adrenal glands, pernicious anemia targets the stomach, and type 1 diabetes is linked with the pancreas. In non-organ-specific diseases, autoimmune activity is spread throughout the entire body. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. 

Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases 

Symptoms vary from person to person and are based on the type of disease affecting your body, however, the early symptoms are very similar. Most individuals suffer from fatigue, persistent low-grade fevers, skin rashes, sore muscles, numbness in hands and feet, difficulty concentrating, joint pain or swelling, abdominal pain, hair loss, and swollen lymph nodes and glands. 

Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases 

The first, and most important step in treatment, is determining and correcting the major deficiencies in the body. For example, replacing hormones depleted by thyroid disease, or insulin depletion by type 2 diabetes. In some autoimmune diseases, blood transfusions may be required to replace lacking components, such as pernicious anemia. 

The second objective of treatment is to reduce inflammation and repress the immune response. This is the challenging part. It can be hard to control the disorder while maintaining the body’s ability to fight the disease. The most commonly used drugs to do this are corticosteroids or stone immunosuppressant drugs. Both classes of drugs must be, and are, used with caution due to the serious side effects including increased susceptibility to infection, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, increased weight gain, moon face, cataracts, and osteoporosis, to name a few. 

Other classes of drugs used include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help treat mild forms of rheumatic autoimmune diseases because they block an enzyme in the body that causes pain and swelling. Another group of drugs is called Biologics, a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, made of compounds from living cells that target a protein that causes inflammation. Another treatment is called intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy, used to reduce circulating immune complexes. 

How Can IV Therapy Benefit Those with Autoimmune Diseases  

From reading the above section, one can see there is no magic cure for autoimmune diseases. Luckily though, there are ways to boost immune system functioning, reduce the severity of symptoms, and enhance daily life for individuals who suffer from autoimmune diseases. 

IV therapy helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, the two biggest factors in autoimmune diseases. Inflammation is the product of the immune system overreacting and attacking its body’s healthy cells. This process then triggers the production of harmful free radicals, which damage cells and tissues even more, leading to oxidative stress. IV therapy provides strong antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals, therefore reducing inflammation. 

Autoimmune diseases can make it challenging for the body to absorb and use essential nutrients and vitamins effectively. Inflammation damages the lining of the gut, causing even less nutrient absorption, leading to malabsorption. IV therapy delivers essential vitamins and nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gut, and ensuring maximum absorption. Below are vital antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that can be customized into an infusion to help target specific patient goals.

IV therapy is a convenient and comfortable option for people with autoimmune diseases. It has been proven to have numerous benefits including, but not limited to, reducing inflammation, increasing energy levels, and supporting immune function. 

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), November 2023