Three diseases which affect the immune system are:-
- Rheumatoid arthritis- It is an autoimmune disease. It is a severe inflammation of the joints. There is an antibody known as ‘Rheumatoid factor’ which attacks the cells of the joints, causing inflammation. Rest and exercise are an important part of the treatment. There is no treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Medications include immune-suppressants and steroids. The specialist who treats RA is rheumatologist. If surgical treatment is being done, then a general surgeon is also required along with the rheumatologist.
- HIV/AIDS – The HIV virus attacks immune system; as its name specifies, Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It initially attacks macrophages and later on goes on to attack T-helper cells, finally invading the entire immunity of the body. In the later stage, HIV attack is known as AIDS. Anti-retroviral treatment is the best treatment for HIV. An immunologist or more specifically, infectious disease specialist treats HIV/AIDS patients.
- Asthma – An inflammation in the airways (parts of respiratory system, including trachea) is known as Asthma. Since it is a genetic disorder, more commonly associated with chromosome no. 5, it is more commonly discussed under diseases that affect the immune system. Other chromosomes involved are chromosome no. 5, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 18. More commonly, edema occurs in the airways, narrowing their path; as a result of which severe coughing, and chest tightness occurs. In asthma the patient is more prone to viral attack in the airways, because there are no immune cells to protect him/her from that inflammation. Two types of medications are given for asthma: one is known as long term medication, and the other is known as quick relief medication. Treatment methodology depends on the severity of asthma (severe attack or mild attack) and the type of person affected (for e.g. pregnant ladies, children, and adults). Inhaled medicines are more common, because they reach the lungs directly. Some common medicines are corticosteroids, omalizumab, cromolyn etc. A paediatrician allergist would be best to treat asthma.