The disease is a case of mistaken identity where the immune system instead of attacking the microbes, antigens, bacteria, and virus attacks the healthy cells and tissues. Autoimmune disease has more than 100 varieties some of which involve a single organ (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or type 1 diabetes) and others that can invariably attack any organ or tissues (like lupus).
Our body’s immune system is designed to form a protective network for our cells, tissues from invader attack, namely the infection and diseases. This means that the immune system is capable to distinguish between the foreign cells and healthy cells. But in the case of autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes the healthy tissues (like the skin and the joints) as foreign bodies and releases autoantibodies to attack them.
What makes the immune system to attack the body?
Well, even the doctors are trying to find the exact reason for the immune system to backlash thus. Women are more prone to get the autoimmune disease than men. The disease in women often starts in their childbearing years.
Sometimes, autoimmune disease like lupus and multiple sclerosis in hereditary, but it does not mean that everyone in the family will inherit the disease, but they might be susceptible to the condition. Since the incidence of autoimmune disease is gradually on the rise, doctors suspect that environmental factor like exposure to chemicals and infections might be a reason.
Also, the ‘Western Diet’ is somewhere to be blamed for a suspected trigger of autoimmune disease. High-fat, high-sugar and highly processed food leads to inflammation. However, nothing is proved yet.
Another theory that doctors suspect is a hygiene hypothesis. Due to a large number of vaccines and antiseptics, children are not exposed to germs like they were in the past. This lack of exposure makes their immune system overreact to harmless substances.
Common autoimmune diseases:
Here are the 10 most common autoimmune diseases among more than 100 ones.
1. Type 1 diabetes
In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system attack and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas damaging the blood vessels and organs like the eyes, heart, nerves, and kidneys.
Learn more: Type 1 diabetes and how to deal with it
In this, the immune system attacks the joints causing stiffness and soreness in the limb joints.
This is a variation of autoimmune disease where the immune system does not only attack a particular organ but affects multiple organs like the brain, liver, kidney, skin, joints and the heart.
Learn More: Lupus
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
In this condition, the lining of the intestines is inflamed that might result on Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis.
Learn More: Can IBD increase the risk of prostate cancer?
5. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
In this, the thyroid hormone production slows down leading to weight gain, hair loss, swelling of the thyroid gland and sensitivity to cold and flu.
This causes a loss of the skin pigmentation in large patches.
Learn More: Vitiligo and Leukoderma
7. Multiple sclerosis
The immune system attacks the healthy nerve cells causing symptoms like pain, weakness, blindness, muscle spasms, and poor coordination.
In psoriasis, thick, silver scaly patched form on the skin due to the collection of the overactive T-cells.
Learn More: Psoriasis
The blood vessels are attacked and damaged by the immune system in this. Vasculitis can affect any organ so the symptoms can occur anywhere in the body.
10. Sjogren's syndrome
The autoantibodies attack the glans that is responsible to form tears and saliva. This leads to dry eyes, dry mouth, dental decay, loss of taste and more. Joint pain may also be another symptom.
How autoimmune disease affects health:
Having certain autoimmune diseases like lupus, psoriatic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of heart diseases. Talk to your doctor how you can deal with it. According to health experts, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly can cope up with symptoms of the autoimmune disease and improve life quality.
Be committed, listen to your body and be smart enough to identify the triggers that worsen your symptoms. Visit a doctor when needed.