© 2018 by Worthington Pediatrics. 

Worthington Pediatrics

5528 NW 43rd Street

Gainesville, FL 32653

Tel: (352) 371-3604

Fax: (352) 371-4865

 

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Autoimmune Disease

 

 

 

Inflammation is a complex biological process that occurs in response to a noxious or harmful stimuli. When used to protect us from an acute attack, or alert us to acute pain, inflammation is natural and positive. However, when chronic and systemic (widespread), inflammation can turn harmful. Chronic, low-lying inflammation--triggered by cellular dysfunction and cellular stress- contributes to the pathogenesis of seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. Mitochondiral dysfunction brings about inflammation by several processes, including the generation of free-radicals. Biochemical biomarkers of inflammation include: uric acid, homocysteine levels, and oxidized lipoproteins. Several factors entice inflammation including diet and lifestyle, environmental exposures, and more.

 

Inflammation appears to be connected to almost every known chronic health condition, including: autism, obesity, dementia, heart disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel diseases, and autoimmune disease just to name a few.

 

As of 2013, over 50 million Americans were affected by autoimmune diseases including lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, psoriasis, vitiligo, celiac disease, and more. The manifestations of these autoimmune diseases may be vastly different, but they all mediated by one central biochemical process: a rampant and unrestricted immune response (also known as systemic inflammation), that results in your body attacking its own tissues.

 

Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system is fighting a foreign invader--an infection, allergen, food, toxin, stress response, etc-- and somehow it gets "confused" and redirects its hostile attack on your own tissues--your brain, thyroid, gut, skin, joints, or even whole body. 

 

Treatment options vary depending on the specific disease, but often, powerful immunosuppressents are used. These medications treat the outward symptoms of the disease, but not the cause. In order to address why you are sick and not simply what disease you have, we must address the underlying cause behind the process that mediates most chronic disease: inflammation from an altered immune response.

 

By taking a functional approach to autoimmune disease, we strive to address the causes of inflammation in one's diet and environment. We can go hunting for the allergens, toxins, foods, infections, etc. that are leading to the outward manifestation of symptoms. Examples include yeast and harmful bacterial overgrowth that contribute to gut dysbiosis, food allergens, environmental exposure to toxins and metals, etc.

 

Identifying and minimizing the root cause of this immune dysregulation and inflammation may alleviate symptoms, slow the progression of your autoimmune disease, and improve overall health and your body's own detoxification systems.

 

 

 

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune condition in which an immunogically-mediated reponse to deleterious proteins in gluten results in architectual and inflammatory changes to the small intestine mucosa. 

 

Inflammatory damage to the small intestine occurs as a result of permanent intolerance to gluten. No amount of gluten is safe for individuals with celiac disease. Note that celiac diease is different from gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is a genetically based immunological intolerance to gluten. It has been proposed that environmental factors--possibly a viral infection, high-dose gluten diet, GI surgery, etc.--play a role in precipitating this immune-mediated response to gluten.

 

Chronic inflammation occurs in the small-intestine mucusa and produces malabsorption syndrome. This is why it is critical that individuals with Celiac Disease avoid gluten, with the goal of reducing the body's inflammatory response. 

 

Learn more about starting a Gluten-Free Diet here. 

 

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

This autoimmune disease arises from an aberrant immune response that produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. This leads to chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland and often results in a hypothyroid-like state. There is strong evidence for a genetic etiology, as thyoid disease often runs in families. Antibodies against TSH receptors, thyroid peroxidase, and others contribute to the pathophysiology of this disease. Preliminary research indicates that there may be a concordance rate between Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Celiac Disease, and that maintaining a gluten-free or low gluten diet may reduce the autoimmune response cause thyroid degeneration. 

 

Pediatric Acute Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS) and PANS

Children with PANDAS have an abnormal reaction to strep bacteria, or as new research shows, to a virus or other threat. Antibodies created to fend off the foreign invader are misdirected and interfere with brain--and especially basal ganglia--function. This causes a complex disorder that is characterized by the sudden onset of emotional regression/lability, motor or vocal tics, symptoms of dysautonomia, and more. Please find more informaton on our PANDAS and PANS Resource Page.