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Autoimmune Diseases

International Global Health

What is Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body

The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. The immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells.

In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases auto-antibodies (protein) that attack healthy cells. Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ.

Immune system disorders cause abnormally low activity or over activity of the immune system. In cases of immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages it’s own tissues (Autoimmune diseases). Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections.

In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system may begin producing antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attack the body’s own tissues. Treatment for autoimmune diseases generally focuses on reducing immune system activity.

The left blood vessel is normal and contains a normal blood cell composition (especially red blood cells). In the right blood vessel there is an intruder present to which the immune system responds: there are various immune system cells that attack the intruder. Also, the blood vessel allows cells to ‘escape’ so that the intruder can also be attacked outside the blood vessel. There is redness (because of the red blood cells that escape) and sometimes a swelling (due to the amount of fluid that spills from the blood vessel). In case of autoimmune disease, this happens too without a reason!

Researchers don’t know exactly what causes autoimmune diseases. Diet, infections and exposure to chemicals might be involved.

Autoimmune diseases are Systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus), Reumatoid arthritis, Type I Diabetes mellitus, Psoriasis dan Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis


The early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases are very similar such as fatigue, muscle aches, swelling, trouble concentrating, hair loss and skin rashes. Often symptoms come and go over time.


The antinuclear antibody test (ANA) is often the first test that doctors use when symptoms suggest an autoimmune disease. A positive test means you likely have one of these diseases but it won’t confirm exactly which one you have.

Other tests look for specific auto-antibodies produced in certain autoimmune diseases. Your doctor might also do tests to check for the inflammation these diseases produce in the body.

A positive ANA blood test can show that you have an autoimmune disease. Your doctor can use your symptoms and other tests to confirm the diagnosis.


The treatments cannot cure autoimmune diseases but they can control the overactive immune response and bring down inflammation. The medication to treat these conditions include:

  •           NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  •          Immune-suppressing drugs  

More than 80 different autoimmune diseases exist. Often their symptoms overlap, making them hard to diagnose. Autoimmune disease also common in women and they often run in families.


The main treatment for autoimmune diseases is with medications that bring down inflammation and calm the overactive immune response. Treatments can also help relieve symptoms.

Original Article

Web MD

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