What Causes Autoimmune Diseases

In the human body, autoimmune diseases represent a class of medical conditions and disorders that occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. Currently, researchers and scientists have discovered over 80 different types of autoimmune disorders and diseases and it is widely believed that we are yet to come across a few more.

Causes of autoimmune diseases

For the proper and healthy functioning of the human body, the immune system helps protect the body from harmful substances called antigens. Examples of common antigens we are constantly exposed to include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells and blood or tissues from another person or species. To destroy these antigens, the immune system produces antibodies. In patients with autoimmune diseases, what happens is that the immune system of the person is unable to tell the difference between healthy body tissue and antigens. The result is an immune response that destroys normal body tissues and those invaded by antigens. This response is a hypersensitivity reaction similar to the response in allergic conditions. The difference in the case of autoimmune diseases is that while in allergies, the immune system reacts to an outside substance that it normally would ignore, with autoimmune disorders, the immune system reacts to normal body tissues that it would normally ignore.

Autoimmune diseases are serious medical conditions. The destruction of one or more healthy body tissues can lead to a lot of chaos as far as the healthy functioning of the body is concerned. An autoimmune disorder can result in any of the following:

  1. The destruction of one or more types of body tissues
  2. Abnormal growth of an organ
  3. Changes in organ function

It might also be worth it to note at this point that an autoimmune disorder is not always localized. Sometimes a disorder of the autoimmune system can affect more than one organ or tissue type. Organs and tissues commonly affected by autoimmune disorders include:

  1. Blood vessels
  2. Connective tissues
  3. Endocrine glands including the thyroid gland and the pancreas
  4. Joints
  5. Muscles
  6. Red blood cells
  7. Skin

Lastly, in terms of the common autoimmune diseases that plague our society these days are serious healthcare conditions such as Addison’s disease, Celiac disease, Dermatomyositis, Graves disease, Multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematous and Type I diabetes.

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