Simply put, autoimmune disease is associated with a malfunction of the immune system, causing the body to attack its own tissues. The body's immune system is a complex network of specialized cells and organs that defend themselves against foreign substances and invaders. Foreign substances and invaders can include bacteria, parasites, some cancer cells, and graft tissue. Usually, the body's immune system only reacts to foreign and invader substances to protect the body. Normal antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to attack foreign invaders.
When the immune system fails, the body mistakes its own tissues for foreign ones and produces immune cells (lymphocytes) and autoantibodies that attack those tissues. An inappropriate response, called an autoimmune response, can cause inflammation and tissue damage.
How an autoimmune reaction occurs
You may be wondering how an autoimmune reaction can occur. An autoimmune reaction can be triggered by:
- If a normal body substance is disturbed, such as by a virus or a drug, causing the body to recognize it as foreign.
- If the cells that control the production of antibodies do not work and produce abnormal antibodies that attack the body's own cells.
- Usually a localized substance in the body (such as a body fluid) is released into the bloodstream, stimulating an abnormal immune response. It could have been caused by an injury.
Prevalence and types of autoimmune diseases
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, the symptoms depend on the part of the body affected. There are autoimmune diseases that affect certain types of tissues (for example, blood vessels, skin, or cartilage). Other autoimmune diseases can affect a specific organ. Any organ can be affected. Features commonly associated with autoimmune diseases include inflammation, pain, muscle aches, fatigue, and low-grade fever. Inflammation is usually the first sign of an autoimmune disease.
More than 23.5 million Americans have autoimmune diseases , according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone, but some people are believed to have a genetic predisposition to develop an autoimmune disease in certain circumstances (that is, something acts as a trigger). People at a higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease include:
- Women of childbearing age
- People with a family history of autoimmune disease.
- People exposed to certain environmental influences that can trigger
- People of a particular race or ethnicity
Many types of arthritis are considered autoimmune diseases, including:
Other autoimmune diseases include alopecia areata, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, autoimmune hepatitis, type 1 diabetes , celiac disease, Crohn's disease, Graves disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Hashimoto's disease, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory disease intestinal . primary biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis, Sjogren 's syndrome, and vitiligo.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are not considered autoimmune diseases. This is puzzling because some of the symptoms of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia overlap with some autoimmune diseases.
The combination of symptoms with other autoimmune diseases, as well as non-autoimmune diseases, can make diagnosis difficult. According to AARDA.org, most patients with autoimmune diseases live more than 4 years and can see 5 doctors before receiving a proper diagnosis.
Treatment of autoimmune disease aims to control the autoimmune response with immunosuppressants . Corticosteroids can be used to control inflammation and suppress the immune system. Other treatment options depend on the specific autoimmune disease. For example, biologics are now widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory types of arthritis .