Our immune systems are designed to protect us from disease and infection. We all house an army of extraordinarily complex and sensitive white blood cells, all equipped with chemically coded instructions for exactly how and when to launch an assault on a microscopic invader. Though powerful, the immune system is not always perfect, and sometimes can be misled to mistake a person’s healthy tissues for the enemy, resulting in an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome (APS), a rare disorder brought on by a faulty regulatory gene, occurs when the immune system directs its actions toward the bodily glands that produce essential hormones and biochemicals. Our endocrine system plays a critical role in regulating all other bodily functions. Disruptions in endocrine function result in a host of disabling symptoms that can affect the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and other systems.
Shortness Of Breath
Individuals with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome can sometimes experience shortness of breath. There are a couple of reasons why this might happen.
The adrenal glands, located above each of the kidneys, are a frequent target for APS. These glands produce cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, antidiuretic hormone, and other essential biochemicals. They serve a critical function in blood pressure control and heart function, as well as fluid balance. Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome patients can find themselves in a downward spiral of dehydration, low blood pressure, increased pulse, decreased cardiac efficiency and, as a result of it all, chest pain with shortness of breath.
APS is also known to interfere with iron absorption and red blood cell production, which will lead to anemia. Anemias can be caused by a lowered production of red blood cells, or simply the inability to attach enough iron to the surface of blood cells, rendering them incapable of carrying out their primary duty, to transport oxygen to bodily tissues. A decrease in oxygen levels signals the heart to pump faster to deliver more oxygen, which after a time will cause the patient to feel short of breath.