Autoimmune Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and More
What is an auto Immune disease?
An immune system attack on your body is called an auto Immune disease.
The immune system protects against infections. When it senses invaders, it sends out fighter cells to attack them.
The immune system can tell the difference between foreign and your own cells.
The immune system makes foreign mistakes in your body, like your joints or skin, when it is attacked by an autoimmune disease. It releases autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.
Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, can affect the whole body.
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“Doctors don’t know what causes the immune system to malfunction. Some people are more likely to get an auto Immune disease.”
According to a 2014 study, women get autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men — 6.4% of women versus 2.7% of men. The disease often starts during childbearing age (ages 15 to 44).
Some diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups. African American and Hispanic people are more affected by the disease.
Certain autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, run in families. Not every family member will necessarily have the same disease, but they inherit a susceptibility to an autoimmune condition.
Environmental factors like infections and exposure to chemicals are thought to be involved in the rise of autoimmune diseases.
A “Western diet” is another suspected risk factor for developing an autoimmune disease. Eating high fat, high-sugar, and highly processed foods are thought to be linked to inflammation, which might set off an immune response. But this hasn’t been proven.
BOTTOM LINE: Researchers don’t know exactly what causes autoimmune diseases. Genetics, diet, infections, and exposure to chemicals might be involved.
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There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases. Here are 14 of the most common ones.
1. Type 1 diabetes
The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. In type 1 diabetes mellitus, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and organs.
2. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks the joints. This attack causes redness, warmth, soreness, and stiffness in the joints.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which commonly affects people as they get older, RA can start as early as your 30s or sooner.
3. Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis
Skin cells grow and then shed when they’re no longer needed. Psoriasis causes skin cells to multiply too quickly. The extra cells build up and form inflamed, red patches, commonly with silver-white scales of plaque on lighter-toned skin. On darker skin, psoriasis can appear purplish or dark brown with gray scales.
Up to 30% of people with psoriasis also develop swelling, stiffness, and pain in their joints. This form of the disease is called psoriatic arthritis.
4. Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) damages the myelin sheath, the protective coating surrounding nerve cells in your central nervous system. Damage to the myelin sheath slows the transmission speed of messages between your brain and spinal cord to and from the rest of your body.
This damage can lead to numbness, weakness, balance issues, and trouble walking. The disease comes in several forms that progress at different rates. According to a
5. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Although doctors in the 1800s first described lupus as a skin disease because of the rash it commonly produces, the systemic form, which is most common, actually affects many organs, including the joints, kidneys, brain, and heart.
Joint pain, fatigue, and rash are some of the most common symptoms.
6. Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes conditions that cause inflammation in the lining of the intestinal wall. Each type of IBD affects a different part of the GI tract.
- Crohn’s disease can inflame any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus.
- Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
7. Addison’s disease
Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands, which produce the hormones cortisol and aldosterone as well as androgen hormones. Too little cortisol can affect how the body uses and stores carbohydrates and sugar (glucose). Deficiency of aldosterone will lead to sodium loss and excess potassium in the bloodstream.
Weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and low blood sugar are symptoms.
8. Graves’ disease
Graves’ disease attacks the thyroid gland in the neck, causing it to produce too much of its hormones. Thyroid hormones control the body’s energy usage, known as metabolism.
Too much of these hormones can cause a number of symptoms, including nervousness, a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance, and weight loss.
One potential symptom of this disease is bulging eyes, called exophthalmos. It can occur as a part of Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which occurs in around 30% of those with Graves’ disease, according to a
9. Sjögren’s syndrome
This condition attacks the glands that provide lubrication to the eyes and mouth. The hallmark symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth, but it may also affect the joints or skin.
10. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid hormone production slows to a deficiency. Symptoms include weight gain, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, hair loss, and swelling of the thyroid (goiter).
11. Myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis affects nerve impulses that help the brain control the muscles. When the communication from nerves to muscles is impaired, signals can’t direct the muscles to contract.
muscle weakness is the most common symptom and improves with rest. Eye movements, eyelid opening, swallowing, and facial movements are all controlled by muscles.
12. Autoimmune vasculitis
The immune system attacks blood vessels. TheInflammation narrows the arteries and veins, which causes less blood to flow through them.
13. Pernicious anemia
This condition causes a deficiency of a protein made by stomach lining cells, which is an intrinsic factor needed for the small intestine to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Without enough of this vitamin, one will develop anemia, and the body’s ability for proper DNA synthesis will be altered.
Pernicious anemia is more common in older adults. According to a 2012 study, it affects 0.1% of people in general but nearly 2% of people over age 60.
14. Celiac disease
People with celiac disease can’t eat foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and other grain products. When gluten is in the small intestine, the immune system attacks this part of the gastrointestinal tract and causes inflammation.
Many autoimmune diseases have the same early symptoms.
- Achy muscles.
- There was swelling and redness.
- The low grade of the disease.
- Problems concentrating
- There is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
- hair loss
- There are skin eruptions.
Individual diseases can have their own symptoms. Diabetes causes extreme thirst, weight loss, and fatigue. IBD causes a lot of symptoms.
“Symptoms may come and go with autoimmune diseases. Flare-up is a period of symptoms. When the symptoms go away, it’s called remission.”
BOTTOM LINE: Symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, swelling, and redness could be signs of an autoimmune disease. Symptoms might come and go over time.
If you have symptoms of an autoimmune disease, you should see a doctor. Depending on the disease you have, you might need to visit a specialist.
- Rheumatologists treat joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome and SLE.
- Gastroenterologists treat diseases of the GI tract, such as celiac and Crohn’s disease.
- Endocrinologists treat conditions of the glands, including Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Addison’s disease.
- Dermatologists treat skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you need help finding a specialist.
Most autoimmune diseases can not be diagnosed with a single test. A doctor will use tests, review your symptoms, and conduct a physical examination to reach a diagnosis.
Doctors often use the antinuclear antibody test (ANA) when symptoms suggest an autoimmune disease. A positive test means you may have one of these diseases, but it won’t confirm exactly which one you have or if you have one for sure.
Specific autoantibodies produced in certain diseases are looked for in other tests. Your doctor might do tests to check for inflammation in the body.
BOTTOM LINE: A positive ANA blood test may indicate an autoimmune disease. Your doctor can use your symptoms and other tests to confirm the diagnosis.
“Treatments can control the immune response and bring down inflammation, but they can’t cure autoimmune diseases. Drugs are used to treat these conditions.”
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn)
- Immune-suppressing drugs are used to suppress the immune system.
Treatments are also available to relieve symptoms like pain, swelling, fatigue, and There are skin eruptions..
You can feel better by eating a balanced diet and exercising.
BOTTOM LINE: The main treatment for autoimmune diseases is with medications that bring down inflammation and calm the overactive immune response. Treatments can also help relieve symptoms.
There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases. Their symptoms overlap, making it hard to diagnose.
Women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases.
Doctors can use blood tests to diagnose these conditions. Treatments include drugs to calm the immune response and bring down inflammation.