What are autoimmune diseases?

The immune system is the system of the body that is in charge of mounting a defense against foreign substances when they make contact with the body. The immune system is able to carry out its function effectively by recognizing foreign substances as non-self while recognizing substances and cells of the body as self. That way, the immune system reacts to non-self but doesn’t react to self.

When the immune system is able to differentiate between self and non-self appropriately, it carries out its functions without causing any damage to the normal cells and substances in the body. However, disorders occur, and these disorders result in an abnormal response of the immune system to the normal cells and substances produced by the immune system. Autoimmune diseases are as a result of the abnormal reaction of the body to its specific components.

Autoimmune diseases differ, and the distinction is because of the specificity of the cells and components of the body that are affected. Although research is still on the specific causes of autoimmune diseases, several factors have been linked to the increased prevalence of autoimmune diseases. Some of the factors, as established by research, are diet and environmental stress.

Here are some of the most common autoimmune diseases.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. Persons suffering from this condition do not produce insulin and thus need exogenous insulin. The inability to produce insulin is because of the attack of the beta pancreatic cells that produce insulin by the immune system.

Insulin is important for the metabolism of glucose, and diabetes type 1 leads to high blood sugar which limits the functionality of several organs of the body.

 Rheumatoid arthritis

This autoimmune disease results from the attack of the immune system on the cells that line the joints and enhance its stability. As the immune system attacks these cells, the joints become weaker and less effective. The effects of the antibodies that attack the cells of the joints include pain and swelling.

Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to permanent weakness of affected joints affecting the mobility and productivity of affected individuals. Medications are available for preventing the long-term degenerative effect of rheumatoid arthritis.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the neurons which are the nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis thus distorts nervous coordination with symptoms that include blindness. The effects of multiple sclerosis cut across the coordination of autonomic and somatic nervous system affecting both voluntary and involuntary activities.


This particular autoimmune disorder stimulates the overproduction of skin cells with similar prevalence in both genders. Because of the overproduction stimulated by the skin cells, patches of dead skin cells are found on the skin as plaques. Psoriasis has been diagnosed in about 7.5 million Americans with treatments and management options varying from use of specific shampoos to the use of medications.

Although, there is the need for better understanding of the different types of autoimmune diseases, the general cause which is the distortion of the immune system has been established.


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