The immune system is a biological defense system consisting of biological structures and processes providing protection against diseases. It protects the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Our immune system has an army of fighter cells that attacks these foreign invaders. However, sometimes the same system starts attacking the body it is protecting.
When the immune system is in its good shape, it can tell the difference between the cells of the body and the foreign cells. However, in an autoimmune disease, this system starts releasing autoantibodies. These are proteins that attack healthy cells. The system sees these cells as foreign cells. Different autoimmune diseases target different organs. For example, Type 1 diabetes causes damage to the pancreas. Diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus attack the entire body.
Why Does The Immune System Attacks The Healthy Cells?
No exact cause has been established why the immune system misfires. However, some people are more likely to develop these diseases as compared to others. According to a study published on ScienceDirect, the rate of development of the autoimmune disease is 6.4% in women and 2.7% in men. In women, the autoimmune disease starts during the childbearing years that is 15 to 44. Certain ethnic groups are also more likely to be affected by some autoimmune diseases. The risk of developing lupus is high in Hispanic and African-American groups as compared to Caucasians.
Sclerosis, lupus and certain autoimmune diseases run in families. However, not all members of the family will develop the same disease. They do inherit the risk of an autoimmune condition.
Autoimmune diseases are becoming more and more common. Researchers suspect that exposure to solvents or chemicals, infections, and other environmental factors are causing autoimmune diseases. The western diet that includes high sugar, high fat and highly processed foods is linked to inflammation. This is likely to set off an immune response.
The bottom line is, researchers, don’t know the exact causes of these diseases. They do suspect that the following factors are involved:
- Exposure to chemicals
Most Common Autoimmune Diseases
The following table illustrates the 14 most common autoimmune diseases out of 80+.
|Type 1 Diabetes||
|Rheumatoid arthritis||Attacks joints and causes soreness, warmth, redness, and stiffness in the joints|
|Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis||Causes extra cells to build up and develops swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints|
|Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)||Affects brain, heart, joints, kidney and many other organs|
|Inflammatory bowel disease||Causes inflammation in intestinal wall’s lining|
|Celiac disease||Makes the immune system attack a part of the gastrointestinal tract that contains gluten|
You can take medical help for autoimmune disease treatment. As there are more than 80 autoimmune diseases, a patient often needs a personalized autoimmune disease treatment plan.