What Types of Autoimmune Diseases Are There?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy organs, tissues, and cells. These illnesses can impair the function of the systems they attack and can even be life-threatening in some instances. Most types of autoimmune diseases are incurable. However, virtually all types of autoimmune diseases and symptoms can be treated to some degree.
What types of autoimmune diseases are there? Scientists know of more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases. Some are more common, like diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and others are very rare. Autoimmune diseases you may have heard of include:
Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus or SLE) is a disease in which the immune system attacks areas that may include the joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, and blood cells. Lupus can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. A facial rash that looks like butterfly wings is one very identifiable sign.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects the joints, producing soreness, stiffness, warmth, and redness. People can develop RA in their 30s, unlike osteoarthritis, which typically affects people later in life.
Psoriasis causes the body to produce skin cells faster than they are shed. This results in red patches on the skin that typically include white/silver scales. If the condition affects the joints, it’s called psoriatic arthritis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Frequently referred to as IBD, inflammatory bowel disease causes the lining of the intestines to become inflamed. Depending on what part of the intestinal tract is affected, IBD has different forms. Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine and rectum, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect the entire intestinal tract.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system attacks healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Untreated or improperly treated type 1 diabetes can then damage blood vessels and organs like the kidneys, heart and eyes.
This condition results in abnormally low thyroid hormone production. As a result, patients experience fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, and swelling of the thyroid.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) damages the protective covering around nerve cells called the myelin sheath. This affects the way the brain and spinal cord communicate with the rest of the body, causing symptoms like weakness and numbness in the limbs, balance issues and difficulty walking.
This condition affects the thyroid gland, which plays a key role in metabolism, causing overproduction of hormones. As a result, people with Graves’ disease experience symptoms like a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance, weight loss, and nervousness. It can also cause the eyes to bulge.
When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, the immune system responds by attacking the small intestine. Approximately 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, while a larger number have some degree of gluten sensitivity, which isn’t an autoimmune disorder.
This condition causes the body to make an insufficient amount of a protein called intrinsic factor. This protein helps the small intestine absorb vitamin B-12 from food. The lack of it can impact DNA synthesis in the body.
Learn More About the Types of Autoimmune Diseases with the Baptist Health Blog
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