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Autoimmune Disorder (Thyroid, Lupus, Addison's)

An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that destroy normal, healthy body tissues.
There are more than 80 recognized autoimmune disorders. Some examples of autoimmune disorders are Addison's Disease, Grave's Disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and lupus. In these disorders, the body's immune system mistakenly produces antibodies in response to normal, healthy body tissues which then attack and destroy the latter. The symptoms of autoimmune disorders vary depending on which disease the person has, but many persons with autoimmune disorders experience dizziness, fatigue, a general feeling of illness, and sometimes a persistent low fever. The treatment for autoimmune disorders also varies by disease, but is generally targeted at controlling and minimizing symptoms while helping the body to adequately fight off disease.

Observing Autoimmune Disorder (Thyroid, Lupus, Addison's) in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with an autoimmune disorder:

  • May become fatigued easily
  • May have reduced physical strength
  • May be frequently absent due to treatment or illness
  • May have stiffness or pain
  • May experience weight loss or weight gain
  • May have reduced motor skills


Related Functional Characteristics

Climate Sensitivity : Autoimmune disorders all manifest differently but many of them include symptoms of climate sensitivity particularly in cold weather.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students with autoimmune disorders experience physical fatigue due to pain, lack of sleep, medication side effects, stress, or flare ups of their disorder.

Motor Skill (Fine) : Autoimmune disorders can cause pain in the joints or muscles of the hands resulting in difficulty with fine motor skills.

Numbness : Numbness is a symptom of certain autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anemia, and systemic lupus erythematous.

Pain Management : Students with autoimmune disorders may experience pain in the joints, muscles, or tendons caused by their disorder.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : Students with autoimmune disorders may have personal attendants or need specialized medical equipment.

Risk for Injury : Students with autoimmune disorders can be at risk when exposed to fungus, infections and viruses when their system is suppressed.

Susceptibility to Infection : Any condition that impacts the autoimmune system makes a student more likely to contract illnesses or secondary infections.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.