Immune System Disorders



This set of conditions and diseases are commonly seen today. This list is focused on children, but most of these conditions exist in adults as well. This information is not meant to be exhaustive, nor is it meant to be any type of medical advice. You should always seek medical advice and a diagnosis from a physician. Additional resources are provided at the end of this post.

PFAPA- Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Adenitis Syndrome (Juvenile)
** Check out my Glimpse into PFAPA and Other Periodic Fever Conditions book to get an in-depth look at PFAPA.

Other Periodic fever conditions include Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Associated Periodic Syndrome (TRAPS), Hyperimmunoglobulin D syndrome (HIDS), also called Mevalonate Kinase Associated Periodic Fever Syndrome, Neonatal Onset Multisystem Inflammatory Disease (NOMID), in Europe called Chronic Inflammatory Neurological Cutaneous Articular (CINCA) syndrome and related diseases, Muckle-Wells syndrome and Familial Cold autoinflammatory syndrome.

Celiac Disease
This is a life-long intolerance to gluten. That means the child must avoid gluten-based, or ingredients, for their entire life. Adjustments in diet can keep the disease in line and prevent future damage or problems. If gluten (wheat based products, including some oat products if they were manufactured in the same plant as gluten-based products) is consumed by someone with celiac disease it can damage their lining of their intestines. Not only can it cause damage but the side effects are severe pain and abdominal discomfort, in addition to the symptoms listed below. Over time, the intestines can stop absorbing important essential nutrients if gluten is continually consumed.

There is no cure for celiac disease and it tends to be more prevalent in female children than males. The symptoms for children under 3 include abdominal pain, diarrhea, distention, nausea, vomiting, increased fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss or lack of weight gain, poor growth, and frequent mouth ulcers. Many children are undiagnosed until around age 9.

Current causes of celiac include genetic predisposition, exposure to gluten at an early age or exposure to a virus or toxin activating the disease.

Check out our resources section at the end of this chapter for more links and information.

Type 1 Diabetes
In this disorder, the body does not make insulin. It is only five percent of diabetic conditions. The body cannot pull the sugar from the blood without insulin. Therefore, in type 1 diabetes the person’s body has no way to get sugar out of the blood to the body cells.

People with type 1 diabetes will need insulin injections for their whole life. It’s important for the person to learn how to balance food with insulin injections to control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar needs to be controlled because if left uncontrolled it can damage body cells. The immune system cannot heal itself from injury.

Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive hunger and thirst even though you are eating and drinking enough, extreme fatigue, wounds and cuts that won’t heal and weight loss even though you are eating more. Early diagnosis and treatment help prevent long-term complications from the disease. It is diagnosed over two days with frequent blood sugar monitoring.

There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes. The current research concludes diabetes is genetic and triggered on by environmental factors. These include viruses or other things like early diet habits, and possibly even cold weather in some! It is considered autoimmune because the body’s own cells turn on themselves to stop producing insulin.

Check out more resources at the end of this section.

Lupus (SLE)
Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in different areas of the body and some organs. It has flares and remission periods. It’s rare to develop lupus before age 5. If left untreated damage from inflammation can become permanent. Symptoms include joint pain, mouth/nasal ulcers, fatigue, rashes, pain when breathing (caused by pleurisy), low-grade fever and more. There is currently no cure for lupus. Symptoms are treated with various NSAIDs, prednisone, plaquenil and other medications.  The specific cause is not known but genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development. At this time, there is no known prevention, as the cause is unknown, but flares can try to be controlled or reduced.

Check out more resources at the end of this article.

Juvenile Dermatomyositis
Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune disease of the muscle, skin and blood vessels. Muscle weakness and skin rash are the most common symptoms. Children ages 5-10 years old are often those affected. The symptoms include muscle fatigue that ranges from difficulty moving to difficulty rolling over in bed. They have soreness in the neck, shoulders and hips. They may have difficulty climbing stairs, getting in and out of cars or up and down off of the floor.

There is no known cause and no cure. Treatments are to control symptoms. They includ steroids, or other steroid-sparing agents (such as methotrexate).

Check out more resources at the end of this article.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin. It causes thickening which can lead to scarring, even on the organs eventually. There is local scleroderma which usually affects just the skin but can spread to muscles, joints, and bones. There is also systemic scleroderma which is the most serious and widespread throughout the body. It can affect major organs leading to death.There is no known cause or cure for scleroderma. Genetics, chemicals and toxins might be triggers for the disease. Raynaud’s phenomenon is often coinciding with scleroderma. This is a disorder that causes inflammation in mostly the hands, but sometimes feet. It causes swollen,

There is no known cause or cure for scleroderma. Genetics, chemicals and toxins might be triggers for the disease. Raynaud’s phenomenon is often coinciding with scleroderma. This is a disorder that causes inflammation in mostly the hands, but sometimes feet. It causes swollen, bluish/whitish/red inflammation in the fingers which is worsened by cold. It can lead to skin ulcers, and ultimately gangrene if left untreated. Ninety percent of people with scleroderma have Raynaud’s. Scleroderma is treated with a variety of medications depending on the symptoms present. Calcium beta blockers can be used to treat the Raynaud’s type symptoms, along with prednisone or IVIg treatments. If the kidneys are involved ACE treatments might be used.

Check out more resources at the end of this article.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (now known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis)
This is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints and also causes skin problems and possible additional inflammation in some organs. Children with JIA experience joint pain, difficulty moving, rashes, high fevers and sometime digestive upset. Some children have systemic JIA which means other organs can be involved in the inflammation. If the inflammation isn’t stopped or treated, long term permanent damage may occur.

Treatment for JIA involves a team of doctors and is specific to the symptoms and problems the child is having. Depending on organ and joint involvement a specialist for each organ may be required and treatment is specific to that specialty. Common treatments are NSAIDs, DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs), steroids, biologic response modifiers, and analgesics like acetaminophen are used. There is no known cause and no cure.

Periodic Fevers


Diabetes 1

SLE – Lupus



JIA – Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis