Alternate Names : Autoimmune Conditions
An autoimmune disorder is one in which a person's immune system
begins to attack his or her
own body. The immune system creates antibodies against its own tissues.
Virtually every part of the body is susceptible to an autoimmune disorder. The
following are some diseases and conditions that are believed to have an
anemia, in which the immune system destroys a person's red blood
which causes inflammation of the liver
known as IgA nephropathy, which causes kidney damage
syndrome, which causes feelings of malaise, or a vague feeling of
Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation in the bowels
dermatomyositis, which affects the skin and muscles
which causes chronic pain and stiffness in the muscles
Graves' disease, which affects the thyroid gland
thyroiditis, which is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid
purpura, which causes low platelet counts and interferes with
normal blood clotting
lichen planus, which
affects the skin, eyes, and linings of the mouth and genitals
multiple sclerosis, in which the body attacks parts
of the nervous system
myasthenia gravis, which causes severe muscle weakness
psoriasis, which causes skin lesions and itching
which causes damage to body organs, including the heart, following a strep
rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body attacks the
scleroderma, which involves the skin, gut, and other structures
Sjogren syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth
systemic lupus erythematosus, in which the body
attacks connective tissue in joints and also in the kidneys
type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the individual doesn't
produce enough insulin
ulcerative colitis, which also causes inflammation in the
causes a decrease in skin pigments
What is going on in the body?
The job of the immune system is to protect the body from foreign substances. It
is the immune system that fights off infections caused by bacteria or viruses.
Sometimes a person's own tissues may be seen as "foreign" by the immune system.
When this happens, the immune system attacks the body itself. This response is
known as an autoimmune disorder.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Some autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis, run in families and may have a genetic
component. Although no one knows for sure what causes an autoimmune response,
some triggers have been identified. These triggers, which may bring on a
flare-up of the disorder or worsening of symptoms, include the following:
cancers, such as
viral infection, such as a
cold or flu
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders
may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during
pregnancy. The study
involved women with
scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women
have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who
don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these
findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of
autoimmune disorders in women than in men.