Autoimmune diseases – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 by

Autoimmune diseases are illnesses wherein healthy body tissues and cells are mistakenly attacked by the body’s immune system. While normally designed to seek and destroy infectious agents, the immune system of a patient with an autoimmune disease is unable to tell the difference between normal cells and foreign pathogens. This then results in the destruction of healthy body tissue which can then cause abnormal organ growth or changes in organ function.

Currently, there is no known cause for autoimmune disease. A number of experts believe that the answer may lie in certain drugs or microorganisms confusing the immune system. In addition, various risk factors are known to increase the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease. According to, these include being overweight, having a predilection to smoking, or having relatives who already have autoimmune disease. Moreover, some people more predisposed to getting an autoimmune disease. For instance, women, particularly women of child-bearing age, are at higher risk than men.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases, with some of the most common ones being:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Insulin-producing pancreatic cells are attacked, resulting in high blood sugar that damages several bodily organs.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A condition wherein the joints throughout the body become inflamed. Unlike osteoarthritis which manifests later in life, rheumatoid arthritis can manifest much earlier.
  • Psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis: A chronic skin condition wherein skin cells grow too quickly. Psoriasis can sometimes lead to psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that impacts the large joints, causing them to stiffen and swell up.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome: The affected parts are the joints and the glands that produce tears and saliva.
  • Vasculitis: This occurs when the immune system attacks blood vessels, leading to inflammation that narrows the veins and arteries.
  • Pernicious anemia: The body is unable to absorb vitamin B12 and then becomes deficient of this vitamin. Older adults are more prone to pernicious anemia.
  • Celiac disease: People with this condition are unable to consume gluten, as it can cause the immune system to attack and inflame the intestine.

Known side effects of autoimmune disease

Those who have an autoimmune disease will usually display any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood clots
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dry skin, eyes, or mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Hand and feet numbness
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Mucus or blood in the stool
  • Muscle aches
  • Recurrent skin rashes or hives
  • Swelling and redness
  • Weight gain
  • White patches on the skin or inside the mouth

Many autoimmune disease will oftentimes have unique symptoms, however. Psoriasis, for example, is characterized by thick and scaly skin patches, while inflammatory bowel disease is marked by diarrhea and bloating.

Body systems harmed by autoimmune disease

The organs and organ systems that are typically affected by autoimmune diseases are:

  • Blood vessels
  • Connective tissues
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Pancreas
  • Red blood cells
  • Skin
  • Thyroid glands

Treatments, management plants for autoimmune disease

Instead of curing autoimmune disease, treatment usually involves reducing the symptoms and controlling the immune system’s responses, all while stile maintaining the body’s disease-fighting capabilities. Depending on the type of autoimmune disease, treatment can entail:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Physical therapy
  • Supplementation of depleted substances, lack vitamin B12 or insulin
  • Taking drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or immune-suppressing drugs.

Other steps can be taken to minimize the effects of autoimmune disease, like:

Where to learn more


People with autoimmune disease have overacting immune systems unable that harm healthy cells and tissues. There are more than 80 kinds of autoimmune disease which affect numerous parts of the human body, such as the muscles, skin, red blood cells, and connective tissues. An autoimmune disease can cause a person to experience a wide range of symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, numbness in their hands and feet, and skin rashes. Treatment of autoimmune disease calls for managing the symptoms and controlling the immune system, which can be accomplished through medical assistance as well as changes to one’s diet and maintenance of stress levels.

Sources include: 1 2


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