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The immune system is responsible for protecting our body against infections and other harmful effects, such as tumor cells. The immune system networks and monitors all parts of our body through tissues and cells involved in it.

However, because of the immune system disorders, it may be “overreacting” instead of being defective, thus damaging its own body. This is called an autoimmune disease. If it affects more organs, we are talking about a systemic autoimmune disease.

Unfortunately, the list of autoimmune diseases is very long. Systemic autoimmune diseases include Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyositis, dermatomyositis (muscle and skin inflammation), systemic sclerosis/scleroderma, vasculitides i.e. inflammation of blood vessels, or antiphospholipid syndrome.

Depending on which organ or organs the disease affected, the associated symptoms may be extremely diverse:

  • joint inflammation, joint pains, swelling, joint stiffness, decreased function of the hands, decreased grasping strength of the hands
  • violet-whitish discoloration of hands or toes due to cold effect (Raynaud’s symptom)
  • skin symptoms, such as photosensitivity, ulcers, inflammation, rash
  • hair loss
  • sudden weight loss
  • lymph node swelling
  • fever, high temperature, chills
  • weakness, tiredness, malaise
  • myocarditis, heart rhythm disturbances
  • urinary incontinence, protein urination, edema
  • hypertension
  • neurological symptoms such as numbness, headache, convulsions
  • muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing
  • pleurisy, pneumonia, choking
  • infertility, spontaneous miscarriage, premature labor
  • reflux, digestive disorders
  • ophthalmia
  • anemia, low white blood cell count, low platelet count

Examination of the immune system, treatment of autoimmune disease and full immunological examination are the responsibility of immunologists.

Within the Noé Health Center, immunologist-rheumatologist specialists deal with these often-difficult-to-diagnose diseases.

Immunological examination: The analysis of complaints and the review of the available test reports is followed by a full physical examination, which not only examines the internal organs, but also the locomotive organs and the nervous system. An important starting point are the basic laboratory tests – blood, urine, kidney, liver function, descent, C-reactive protein. If the immune system remains after the above treatment, further tests, including immunological blood tests (e.g. determination of autoantibodies), map out which organs may be affected by the disease and contribute to the clarification of the diagnosis.

The curation of autoimmune diseases, more precisely their treatment, depends on the organs affected and the intensity of the disease. Generally, in addition to proper lifestyle advice, there is need for medication, which is typically some sort of medication affecting the immune system, so-called immunosuppressive medication. It is important that the diagnosis be ascertained as soon as possible by doctors who are familiar with this relatively rare, but sometimes serious, disease and, after informing the patient, with the patient’s responsible involvement, treatment is continued on a regular basis, as the therapy for these disorders usually lasts for years or decades. In most cases nowadays, if there is a timely and precise diagnosis and the patient strictly adhers to the therapeutic instructions, they can expect remain symptom free and have a good quality of life.

Immunologist private practice is available for both adults and children in Szeged, at the Noé Health Center.

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