Autoimmune Diseases: What are they?

Women with allergy in the hands | nova vitacare | Texas

Diseases like type 1 diabetes, thyroid diseases, and lupus are common in different parts of the world. But few people know that they are known as autoimmune diseases. Wondering what are autoimmune diseases? Read further to learn the causes, symptoms, treatment, and much more.

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

The immune system typically guards against viruses and bacteria. When it gets signals of these foreign invaders, it produces an army of fighter cells to attack them.

While the immune system can tell the difference between your cells and foreign cells. In the case of autoimmune disease, your body system mistakenly considers your body cells as foreign bodies. Therefore, it releases proteins known as autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.

Every autoimmune disease has different effects on your body. Some target one organ, such as Type 1 diabetes, can damage the pancreas. Other conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can damage your whole body.


Why Does the Immune System Damage Other Body Parts?

Experts are yet to know what causes the immune system to target the wrong parts. But it’s proven that some people have more risk of developing autoimmune diseases than others. Research indicates women develop autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men. Also, these diseases typically develop during childbearing age- between 15 to 44 years.

Some diseases are mostly found in specific ethnic groups. For instance, Hispanic and African American suffer more from lupus than white people. Few autoimmune conditions also run in families, like lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Since the rate of developing an autoimmune disease is rising, researchers believe that environmental factors like exposure to chemicals and infections might be involved. Our diet can also be a major factor in autoimmune diseases. Eating high-fat, high-sugar, and highly processed foods is associated with inflammation that leads to an immune response.

Some other factors that can cause autoimmune diseases are:

  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to toxins


Types of Autoimmune Diseases

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

It is a type of arthritis that damages joints. This disease is more common in women and can cause soreness, redness, stiffness, and warmth in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also develop between the ages of 18 to 34.



This disease causes thick, scaly patches of skin. Our skin grows and then sheds when we no longer need it. In the case of psoriasis, your skin grows too quickly and builds up, leading to red patches, silver-white scales of plaque, and inflamed skin. More than 30% of patients can develop stiffness, swelling, and joint pain.


Thyroid Diseases

In autoimmune thyroid diseases specifically, your body makes antibodies that attack the cells in your thyroid. This can cause an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), tiredness, weight gain, and muscle fatigue. There are different kinds of thyroid diseases, so it is very important to monitor lab values to ensure your thyroid is functioning properly


Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes is common across the globe and usually develops when your immune system affects the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.


Other Autoimmune Diseases

Here are some additional known types of autoimmune diseases that are common across the globe.

  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s diseases
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • CIDP or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Vasculitis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Myasthenia gravis

What are the Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease?

Symptoms depend on the type of autoimmune disease you have developed. Here we have categorized symptoms by the body parts they damage.

Diseases of muscles and joints:

  • Inflammation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stiffness, swelling, and joint pain
  • Muscle pains and aches

Diseases of the digestive tract:

  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Mucus or blood in stool
  • Food sensitivities

Diseases of the skin:

  • Dry eyes
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation
  • Rashes

Diseases of the nervous system:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Blurry vision
  • Memory issues
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Difficult thinking and confusion
  • Migraines

Other diseases:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Shortness of breath

How are Autoimmune Diseases Diagnosed?

Exams and Tests

Your healthcare provider will do a thorough exam based on the signs of the disease. Here are some tests that you need to undergo.

  • Autoantibody tests
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) tests
  • C-reaction protein (CRP)
  • Urinalysis
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • Complete blood count (CBC) with white blood cell differential


Once doctors diagnose your health disease, they will treat it to:

  • Reduce symptoms
  • Maintain the body’s ability to fight health conditions
  • Control the autoimmune process

The treatments will depend on your symptoms and diseases. Types of treatments include:

  • Blood transfusion if the disease affects the blood
  • Medications and supplements to provide the substance your body lacks, such as vitamin B12, thyroid hormone, or insulin
  • Medications to reduce inflammation
  • Physical therapy to treat movements in your body, muscles, or joints is affected
  • Medicines to treat the immune system’s abnormal response, known as immunosuppressive medications. The most common ones are mycophenolate, tacrolimus, cyclophosphamide, or sirolimus

Some people opt for medicines to treat the immune system’s abnormal response, known as immunosuppressive medicines. The most common medicines are mycophenolate, tacrolimus, cyclophosphamide, or sirolimus.


Bottom Line

Autoimmune diseases are some of the most severe conditions. However, they can be prevented by taking care of your health, choosing a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoiding harmful or toxic environments, and avoiding smoking and other health-impacting activities.

If you are observing any symptoms of autoimmune diseases, it’s important to consult your medical provider to assist or refer you to a specialist. At Nova Vita Wellness Centers, we help our patients who are suffering from autoimmune diseases to help reduce inflammation and other symptoms that occur. Additionally, we provide low cost labs to assist in the investigation and monitoring of lab values. Our qualified and trained team of medical providers will help to provide the best healthcare to minimize the risk of developing severe symptoms or other health issues. So, contact us today to get on your path to wellness and a better quality of life.


Call Now Button