What Are Autoimmune Diseases and Who is at Risk?


When your immune system is in a state of health it will defend and protect your body against disease and infection. Patients that have an autoimmune disease, have immune systems that mistakenly attack their own bodies. The exact cause of these autoimmune diseases is still unknown, but environmental triggers and genetic factors are said to be involved.

What Is An Autoimmune Disease?

The immune system is made up of organs and a network of complex cells that protects the body from outside intruders and germs. The capability to identify differences between non-self and self is the foundation of the immune system. Defects can impair the ability of the body to determine what is not yours and what is yours.

When this occurs, the body starts to produce autoantibodies and these mistakenly attack healthy cells. The regulatory T cells that hold the responsibility of keeping the immune system functioning, also start failing to do the right job. The result of these effects is an immune system that launches mistaken assaults against healthy tissues and cells.

Who Is At Risk For An Autoimmune Disease?

There are over 100 autoimmune diseases, and these could strike at any time and target anyone. However, certain individuals seem to have heightened risks. These include:

Women: Autoimmune diseases typically affect more women when compared to men.

People with a history in the family: You may be more prone to developing autoimmune diseases if someone in your family has had one.

Individuals exposed to certain types of environmental factors. Certain autoimmune disorders are worsened or caused by environmental exposures or certain events. For example, bacterial and viral infections, chemical solvents, or even sunlight.

People from certain types of ethnic backgrounds. Some autoimmune disorders seem to be more severe or more common in groups of certain people. For example, Type 1 diabetes is a lot more common when it comes to Caucasians, while a condition like lupus seems to affect Hispanics and African Americans more commonly.

Diagnosing An Autoimmune Disease

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is often a stressful and time-consuming process. Even though each of the autoimmune diseases is distinct, most of them seem to exhibit very similar symptoms. Many symptoms of autoimmune diseases are commonly found in other forms of health issues.

You can assist with determining the causes of the symptoms you are experiencing when you record these symptoms, even when they appear unrelated. Share these recordings with your family doctor. If possible find out about the health history of close family members and include extended members when sharing this information with a doctor.

Living With An Autoimmune Disease

Even though many autoimmune diseases will not go away, it is possible to manage the disease and treat the symptoms. You can lead an active life, and your objectives for your life shouldn’t change.

However, it is vital to consult with a health practitioner that specializes in these types of diseases, obtain an accurate and formal diagnosis, stick to a treatment plan, and make more healthy choices for your life.

Managing flare-ups is one of the main parts of living with an autoimmune disease. You might start noticing that there are specific triggers like sunlight exposure or stress that can make your symptoms worse. When you are aware of these triggers, you stick to a treatment plan and you make sure you see your doctor regularly, you can prevent these flares or stop a flare-up from becoming chronic or severe.