Autoimmune Disease

What is the latest treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome?

DEAR DOCTOR K:I have CFS. What is the latest information about the condition, particularly treatments?

DEAR READER: For readers who are not familiar with the condition, CFS stands for chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue is a universal human experience. In our increasingly pressured and fast-paced lives, many people feel tired a lot of the time. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor. Yet very few people with fatigue are suffering from CFS.

I read that JFK had Addison’s disease — What is that?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I watched a documentary about President Kennedy around the 50th anniversary of his death last year. The program mentioned that he had something called Addison's disease. What is that?

DEAR READER: Addison's disease is a rare condition in which the adrenal glands do not function properly. The thumb-sized adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. When working properly, they produce several hormones. But with Addison's disease, the adrenal glands do not make enough hormones.

Can you tell me about my treatment options for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Can you tell me about my treatment options?

DEAR READER: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling illness that affects the brain and spinal cord and worsens over time. MS damages nerve cells and a substance that is wrapped around the nerve cells, called myelin. A nerve cell functions like a copper wire -- it transmits electrical signals. Myelin is like the insulation surrounding a wire. It helps the electrical signal get transmitted down the nerve cell. When myelin is damaged, that transmission is interrupted.

I was recently diagnosed with lupus — what is this and what is the treatment?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I saw my doctor for a rash on my face. After further tests, she diagnosed me with lupus. What is this? What is the treatment?

DEAR READER: Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your body's own tissues rather than protecting them from outside invaders. Immune proteins called autoantibodies attack many different parts of the body.

What is an autoimmune disease?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I keep hearing the term "autoimmune disease." What does it mean?

DEAR READER: In most people, the immune system does a good job of protecting them from infection. But sometimes the immune system mistakenly turns against the very body it's designed to protect. When this happens, the resulting conditions are known as autoimmune diseases.