An autoimmune disease is caused when your own immune system produces antibodies that attack your healthy cells. The immune system view these healthy cells as foreign cells and attacks them. It results in damaged body tissues, abnormal growth of an organ, and even change in an organ function. In the U.S about 23.5 million people have some form of an autoimmune disease and the count is still growing. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases known.
Here are the most common types.
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long lasting chronic inflammation around the joints. It causes pain and swelling. Over time, it will lead to loss of cartilage between the joints. The joints become loose and unstable, and the bones get damaged. It commonly targets fingers, wrist, ankles, and knees. In the U.S, it is estimated around 1.5 million people have the disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is caused by an inflammation that targets several parts of the body. It affects the skin, kidneys, blood cells, and even the brain. It could be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are shared with several other diseases. It is more prevalent in women than men. A common symptom that affects half of the people with lupus is the presence of a “butterfly” rash over the cheeks and bridge of the nose.
3. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune, digestive disorder that leads to damage in the inner lining of the small intestine in response to contact with gluten. It is otherwise known as celiac sprue. It occurs when the body’s immune system produces antibodies to gluten and then attacks the small intestine, causing no absorption of nutrients. Iron deficiency anemia, digestive issues, mouth sores, and skin rash are common symptoms of celiac disease.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes thick patches on the skin. It appears flaky and almost white. It is caused by an excessive growth of skin cells. It is commonly seen on the elbows, knees, scalp, face, legs, and feet. Genetics plays a big role in the disease and it could be triggered or a flare up could occur due to environmental factors.
Vitiligo is a disease that causes certain parts of the skin to lose color. Some people have a few patches while others lose a lot more color. It can develop in any part of the body with a pigment or melanin, this includes hair. Melanin is produced by cells known as melanocytes. In the case of vitiligo, the body attacks its own melanocytes and it causes a loss of color. Vitiligo isn’t life threatening. It was found that 30% of people who have the disease have a family member with the same.
6. Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s disease is marked by the body’s immune system attacking the thyroid gland and causing inflammation. This leads to a block in the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones are the reason behind regulating your metabolism. Because of the reduced thyroid function, it leads to hypothyroidism. In fact, Hashimoto’s disease is the most common causes of hypothyroidism in the United States.
7. Graves’ disease
Graves’ disease is caused by an overproduction of the thyroid hormones. It’s a common reason behind hyperthyroidism. It is one of the only kind of hyperthyroidism that can result in inflammation of the eyes.
8. Reactive Arthritis
Reactive Arthritis is triggered by an infectious response to a certain type of bacteria. These bacteria are usually found in the genitals or the bowel. This results in joint pain, swelling and is commonly seen on the heels, toes, and fingers. The symptoms come and go, and usually disappear in a year.
9. Sjögren’s Syndrome
Sjögren’s syndrome is caused when the immune system attacks glands that secrete fluids, typically glands that produces tears and saliva. The most noticeable symptoms are dry eyes and a dry mouth. The disease often comes with other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
10. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is the most common type of autoimmune disease that goes after the central nervous system, made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The immune system attacks myelin (a fatty material that wraps around the axon of nerve fibres). When myelin gets damaged, it eventually leads to damage of the nerve fibers, causing disruption in the flow of nerve impulses. A few symptoms are blurred vision, muscle stiffness, and thinking problems.