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Autoimmune Diseases

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Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function.


There are as many as 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Many of them have similar symptoms, which makes them very difficult to diagnose. It’s also possible to have more than one at the same time. Autoimmune diseases usually fluctuate between periods of remission (little or no symptoms) and flare-ups (worsening symptoms).

The following are some of the more common autoimmune diseases:

Addison’s disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency

Anemia: decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb B-12

Celiac disease: a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine

Gravesdisease: overactive thyroid gland

Hashimoto’s disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland Lupus affects skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs

Psoriasis: a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches

Rheumatoid arthritis: inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues

Scleroderma: a connective tissue disease that causes change sin skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs

Sjögren’s syndrome: destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs

Type 1 diabetes: destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas

Vitiligo: white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment

Symptoms of an Autoimmune Disease?

Symptoms will vary, however the most common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • General malaise (feeling ill)

  • Symptoms worsen during flare-ups and lessen during remission.

Autoimmune diseases affect many parts of the body. The most common organs and tissue affected are:

  • Blood vessels

  • Connective tissue

  • Endocrine

  • Glands

  • Joints

  • Muscles

  • Red blood cells

  • Skin

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