Tag Archive | Autoimmune disease

Why is my mouth so dry that it is a speech impediment?

Why do I have a dry mouth? My mouth is so dry sometimes that it can become parched quickly and my speech isn’t always intelligible. There can be several possible reasons for a dry mouth, but it is more likely that you’ll have a dry mouth if you have an autoimmune disease. Swallowing and talking can be made more difficult if you have a severely dry mouth and if yours is a severely dry mouth, it is likely that you don’t leave the home without some form of liquid to drink. However, liquid doesn’t always relieve, or only relieves a dry mouth, temporarily.

1. Dry mouth (xerstomia) results from many things, including

  • medications
  • too much alcohol
  • the disease, itself: Remember that if there’s one autoimmune disease, there is very likely to be another. (Sjogren’s Syndrome) and lupus often go ‘hand in hand’ though it is not surprising for any of the autoimmune diseases to coexist.

If the cause of dry mouth is autoimmunity, the body’s immune system mounts an attack on itself, and in particular, on the exocrine glands. Exocrine glands are the mucous producing glands, the salivary glands or sweat glands.

There might be an attack on the salivary glands would effect and diminish salivary function and result in dry mouth: A dry mouth results in less saliva to bathe the teeth and this not being able to bathe teeth in saliva can cause the mouth to become a harbor for food and bacteria that form plaque. In turn, plaque can trap more food and bacteria until cavities form.

It is harder to understand how the decrease in the amount of saliva interferes with digestion. The digestive process begins in the mouth, very much aided by saliva, continues through the esophagus and stomach and intestines; aided in part by salivary glands.

These exocrine glands aren’t just involved with saliva production. The same is true of tear production. Many patients with dry mouth also have dry eyes due to lack of tears formed.

There is also decreased moisture so women might have painful intercourse.

Many people benefit from saliva substitutes or from medications. One medication which assists the body in creating more saliva is called Salagen®. A dietary assistant might be lemon drop lozenges that should be ALCOHOL-FREE AND SUGAR-FREE. They should be alcohol-free, because alcohol is drying and the lozenge should be sugar-free, because in a dry mouth, sugar can wreak more havoc than it normally does. Lemon drops are also tart and their tartness also serves to flush secretions from the salivary gland, thereby preventing stagnation of the fluid. In this way, saliva is consistently flushed out and painful infections (infectious parotitis) are prevented.

There are also chewing gums, gels and mouthwashes which sometimes give the feeling that there is more saliva, or some which cause the ‘salivary juices to flow.’

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What is lupus?

Lupus. What is it? I could say that it is an autoimmune disease, but you don’t answer a question with part of it’s definition! Rather, lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease, characterized by it’s fatigue. But anyone can get fatigued; so how do you differentiate between lupus and being tired due to lack of sleep or a host of other conditions? There are laboratory tests referred to in: lab tests helpful in differentiating lupus from other illnesses and they help predict symptoms which your doctor will order to rule in or rule out a diagnosis.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lupus is a disease, afflicting @1.5 million Americans, can be fatal and one in which the immune system of the sufferer goes haywire. Normally, cells of the immune system, detect foreign invaders, ‘mark them as foreign’ and other cells engulf them and destroy them.

However, in lupus, the immune system sees the body’s own cells as foreign, and mounts an attack on them: on SELF. That is why lupus is considered an autoimmune (immunity against oneself: auto). In lupus, any organ can be the victim of an attack. The lungs can be attacked in pleuritis, or the heart in pericarditis or the kidneys in nephritis.

The blood vessels themselves can be attacked in vascultis or the brain in lupus cerebritis. This short video, briefly explains autommunity, it you wanted to give friends or family members a brief tutorial, I’ve found this video to be very short and helpful:

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My letter to lupus and all things autoimmune

May is Lupus Awareness MonthWhat better time than now to let lupus know what I think of it, so I decided to write a letter to lupus, telling it that you’re no longer welcome in my body. My experience with you began when I was 19 and I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, another autoimmune disease. It was only a bother when I was young, dry eyes, and infectious parotitis. But then, Sjogrens‘s began affecting my life.

Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura (commonly known as ITP) was diagnosed with a painful bone marrow biopsy and shortly thereafter, I was told that I couldn’t have children, I was told that you were the reason I suffered the greatest loss of my life, not being able to have children. I’m told that you orchestrated an attack on my ovaries and Premature Ovarian Failure was the reason my husband and I would remain childless. A family was my dream!

Then more asymptomatic and quiescent years. Then, what I thought was the flu with a high temp (106 degrees should have clued me in!) turned into treatment with high dose IV steroids for an allergic reaction to a medication. Two years later, you were diagnosed and shortly thereafter came the diagnosis of osteonecrosis (ON). So many theories abound about the etiology of ON. Lupus, in your ravaging of my body, you also orchestrated antiphospholipid syndrome

You’ve altered my life, robbed me of my late 40s, all 50s and I’ll be darned if I let you rob me of all my 60s. I’ve been told that now, lupus has given way to Sjogren’s Syndrome as my primary diagnosis. This ‘morphing’ from one autoimmune disease is not uncommon. But, the damage from lupus has been done. I have ostoenecrosis (ON) in most joints and I have had a knee, a shoulder and an ankle replaced.

The crowning blow and icing on the cake was that the autoimmunity gave me this thing called ‘Shrinking Lung Syndrome.’ I get short of breath with the least bit of exertion. My doc and I have thrown every med and and treatment at it, to no avail. For years, the ON in my ankles was so painful that as the years went by, I walked less and less and and eventually, I only rarely left the chair because of the tremendous pain from ON and shortness of breath. But, part of the problem seems to have been solved by an ankle replacement. I’m undergoing rigorous physical therapy, but I have a good 8-10 years to make up for, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

Not only have you robbed me of a good 30 years of life, participation in that life, children and caused undue pain; but the life of my husband has been changed. He has been with me through all the hospital and ER visits and driving me when necessary. We filed bankruptcy protection today. Not only are we indigent because of high medical costs, but our future is uncertain. Lupus and Sjogren’s, did you think about the impact on my life and so many other lives, when you entered out bodies? Well, you’re an unwanted guest: GET OUT OF HERE!

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English: The sacroiliac joint

This is another type of autoimmune disease that is more common than people think, but is not known all that well. Truthfully it was something that I had never heard of until my oldest son was diagnosed with it at age 28. He had been living with back pain for a few years, pain that kept him from holding a job where he was forced to stay in one position for extended periods of time, or where he had to bend and lift a lot.  Different people have differing episodes of severity, but let me share this explanation from Gabe Mirkin, MD

“If your back is stiff and hurts when you move, if it hurts to touch two points at the side of the top of your pelvis where it joins your spine (the sacroiliac joint), and if your back x ray shows signs of this disease, you probably suffer from ankylosing spondylitis. You may also have pain and swelling in your eyes, lungs, and heart valves.” Most doctors think that ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks and destroys the joints in his back, rather than doing its job of protecting a person from infection. They treat you with immune suppressants that may make you feel better, but increase your risk for infections and cancers and shorten your life. Nobody really knows why you have this condition, but the overwhelming evidence is that you inherited your susceptibility from your parents and you got this condition from an infection.”

” When you are infected, your body protects you by making proteins called antibodies and cells called white blood cells that attack and kill the bacteria. Your immune system recognizes each specific germ by the structure of its surface membranes. Ninety percent of people with ankylosing spondylitis have a gene called HLA-B27, which means that their cells have surface membranes that are like the surface membranes on many bacteria, particularly those that grow and live in your intestinal tract. So, if certain bacteria get into your bloodstream, your immunity recognizes these germs by their surface membranes and makes antibodies and cells that attack and kill them. However, if the cells in your body have similar surface membranes, your own immunity can be fooled and think that you are the invading germ and attack and kill your own cells.”

There is one more piece to the puzzle. All people with ankylosing spondylitis have changes in their intestines that look like a disease called Crohn’s disease in which they develop bloody ulcers in their intestines and sometimes terrible cramping and diarrhea. If intestinal bacteria are to cause ankylosing spondylitis, they have to have a way to get into the bloodstream, and the intestinal ulcers of Crohn’s disease could be the portal of entry.” You can read more from him at CIDPUSA Foundation

From the Spondylitis Association of America

Is There a Cure?
Currently, there is no known cure for AS, but there are treatments and medications available to reduce symptoms and manage the pain. Recent studies show that the new biologic medications can potentially slow or halt the disease progression in some people. Please refer to the AS Treatment and Medications sections for more information.

AS is in a Group of Diseases
AS is the primary disease in the group of diseases known as Spondylitis, Spondyloarthropathy or Spondyloarthritis.Ankylosis means “fusion”, which may be fibrous, or bony.Spondylitis means “inflammation of the spine.”

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Although the exact cause of AS is unknown, we do know that genetics play a key role in AS. Most individuals who have AS also have a gene that produces a “genetic marker” – in this case, a protein – called HLA-B27. This marker is found in over 95% of people in the caucasian population with AS (the association between ankylosing spondylitis and HLA-B27 varies greatly between ethnic and racial groups, see our AS Diagnosis section for more information). It is important to note, however, that you do not have to be HLA-B27 positive to have AS. Also, a majority of the people with this marker never contract ankylosing spondylitis.

Scientists suspect that other genes, along with a triggering environmental factor, such as a bacterial infection, are needed to trigger AS in susceptible people. HLA-B27 probably accounts for about 40% of the overall risk, but then there are other genes working in concert with B27. There are probably five or six genes involved in susceptibility toward AS. It is thought that perhaps AS starts when the defenses of the intestines start breaking down and bacteria from the intestines pass into the bloodstream directly into the region where the sacroiliac joints are located.

Who is At Risk?
The risk factors that predispose a person to ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Testing positive for the HLA-B27 marker
  • A family history of AS
  • Frequent gastrointestinal infections

Unlike other forms of arthritis and rheumatic diseases, general onset of AS commonly occurs in younger people, between the ages of 17-45. However, it can affect children and those who are much older. AS is more common in men, but occurs in women as well.”

This is not to say that every person that has back pain suffers from some type of disabling condition, or that it is all some type of autoimmune disease, but that if you or someone you know suffers from recurring and debilitating back pain, it should be checked by a Doctor that is knowledgeable. The longer a person suffers from the attacks on their spine by their own body, the more damage that can result.

Here is a partial list of the many resources available:

American College of Rheumatology — The American College of Rheumatology is the professional organization of rheumatologists and associated health professionals who share a dedication to healing, preventing disability, and curing the more than 100 types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones.

Spondyville — A cyber-town for people with ankylosing spondylitis and their families and friends. Fellow SAA member Michael Smith runs an online support group to help people cope through humor, friendship, support, and information

The ASsessment in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ASAS) International Working Group — The ASsessment in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ASAS) International Working Group is an international group of experts in the field of ankylosing.

Ankylosing Spondylitis International Federation — The Ankylosing Spondylitis International Federation is a worldwide organization of national self-help societies for people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This site also lists spondylitis organizations’ contact information (address, phone number, email) for those without a website presence

OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists — A non-profit organization made up of individual services (TIS) throughout North America. We are dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and lactation.

As in all diseases, do not self diagnose, the possibilities of increased damage are not worth it. Find a reputable and knowledgeable Physician. There is plenty of information on the net of treatments, physical therapy and homeopathic remedies, but these should always be used in concert with your Doctor. And lastly, please always remember that you are an individual and that what works for one person may not work for someone else. Educate yourself but do it in cooperation with those who are interested in helping you.

2 years later I reposted this article by loopyloo in hope that it will get you thinking, praying for her as she fights a cancer battle. She has overcome much and will likely overcome this, because she has spirit and fight, But please pray that her spirit, her faith, and fight sees her through this latest challenge. 

I also repost this now because one of my oldest and dearest friends who is very active, and who went out of her way to make my ankle replacement doable and tolerable, was JUST diagnosed with this disease.  Back pain? Don’t take it ‘lying down!’

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Treating Lupus Symptoms with Steroids

The first class of medications used to treat lupus symptoms were medications that were available over-the-counter (OTC). Another class consists almost entirely of a class of medications that many detest. But, many people with an autoimmune disease take corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) at least once in their lives.

Corticosteroids, often referred to as glucocorticoids, steroids or cortisone, are used to suppress massive systemic inflammation, warmth and tenderness. These synthetic medications serve multiple purposes, but they also have multiple side effects such as growth of facial hair (particularly distressing to women) and weight gain, fluid retention and fragile skin, mood changes, and an increased risk of infection.

Steroids suppress the immune system so that it CAN’T fight back against what is causing the inflammation, but in so doing, the immune system can’t mount an immune response to germs and viruses. Care should be taken for hand-washing; though no special precautions need to be taken. Another side effect along with the seriousness of increased risk for infections, is the risk of osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis, also called aseptic necrosis. Briefly osteonecrosis means ‘dead bone.’ Blood feeds the bones, supplying them with oxygen and nutrients. For a reason unknown, there is a greater risk of osteonecrosis in people who take or have taken corticosteroids.

Diabetes can result from increase use of steroids; and in children, steroids also suppress growth.


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The immune system-in a nutshell

This is one of the best treatments I’ve ever seen of the immune system. It’s lengthy (well, 60 pages isn’t REAL long, it’s NOT “War and Peace!!”) , so I’ll just post the link. This coverage isn’t intended to be “all you ever needed to know about the immune system” nor does it replace your rheumatologist IN ANY WAY, but this is a good primer, a good and reliable resource that provides a good understanding. In fact, it’s entitled, “Understanding the Immune System” and it’s not a hard read. Moreover, IT’S FREE!!

http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/immunesystem/documents/theimmunesystem.pdf  , a publication by the National Institutes For Health. Most of us have an idea how the immune system works, and in our particular disease (in this case, lupus) what goes awry to cause the many side effects that we experience..

So, again, the link is http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/immunesystem/documents/theimmunesystem.pdf



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More Bi-Polar Alternative Treatments

While most Doctors stick strictly with pharmaceutical treatments for Bi-Polar disease, there are some who recognize the value of Alternative Therapy!

What Is an Alternative Therapy? According to Web MD :

A health treatment that is not classified as standard Western medical practice is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM encompasses a variety of approaches. They include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of CAM therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Guided imagery
  • Dietary supplements
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Yoga

These are all helpful to some patients, but like everything else, each patient is different and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Another thing that needs to be considered as well is the question of is there an underlying cause. We cannot just assume that it is mental illness and treat it as such. Any good physician will take tests to see if there is a physical condition that is to blame for the problem. There are many disease’s that can trigger depression, and there are also many that can amplify it. Auto-immune disease’s are a prime example of a disease that can amplify depression, and many of the medications that are used to treat existing conditions, also can trigger depression or amplify it.

There are several blogs that emphasize Bi-Polar disease, and they have experts that can answer questions and lead people in different directions as far as help and treatment. Listed below are some related stories from them that are well worth checking out.

For those who have difficulty seeing a Doctor and paying for medication, some drug companies do provide help, and there are also drug studies that are a possibility. You can ask your Doctor or sometimes you can look up the drug maker and see if they are doing a study on a specific drug. You can also check and see if there is a University in your area that is doing a study on your disorder. Sometimes they will even pay you to take part in the study.

I realize that this is not for everyone, but it was an option that I considered myself many years ago when I discovered that I had Uterine Cancer and did not have any insurance. It is worth checking to see what is available at the very least. There are so many more ways to find help now than there were many years ago.

Additional Resources:



Help Guide.org

National Institute of Mental Health

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