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Autoimmune Disorders

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What are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune conditions are marked by an irregular immune response, where the body's defense mechanism mistakenly assaults its own tissues and organs. Under normal circumstances, the immune system functions to shield the body from detrimental pathogens like viruses, parasites, bacteria and other foreign entities. However, in the case of autoimmune disease, there is a dysregulation of the immune system, so much so that it doesn’t distinguish between foreign bodies and healthy cells. It targets healthy cells, tissues, and organs as if they were foreign bodies.

Inflammation, tissue damage and dysfunction of affected organs or systems can arise from this misguided immune response. Autoimmune diseases have the potential to impact nearly every bodily area or part including the skin, joints, muscles, connective tissues, blood vessels, glands and internal organs such as the kidneys, liver, lungs and brain.

There are over 80 known autoimmune diseases, each with its own specific symptoms, patterns of organ involvement and underlying mechanisms. Certain autoimmune diseases focus their attack on specific organs. For instance, in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas bears the brunt of the damage. Conversely, conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) have a broader impact, affecting multiple systems throughout the body.

The specific reason behind autoimmune diseases is not entirely known or understood. However, they are thought to stem from a complicated interaction of environmental factors, immunological factors and genetic factors. There's currently no cure, but effective treatments can manage symptoms and improve quality of life.