What is Autoimmune Disease?

what is autoimmune disease?

Many people wonder what is autoimmune disease and how it can affect them or their loved ones. Your immune system is designed to protect your body from disease-causing substances. With an autoimmune disease, your immune system gets its signals crossed and starts attacking healthy organs and tissue instead.

Why does this happen?

Understanding Your Immune System

The immune system works to defend your body against being invaded by disease and infection. Its job is to identify the types of organisms that can harm you. Once they are identified, your immune system produces antibodies to attack and kill those substances to keep you healthy and free of disease.

Our immune system develops and grows as we do and it “learns” the organisms that have attacked our body in the past so it can attack them if they show up again. When your immune system works properly, antibodies are activated by a foreign substance and triggers it to eliminate them.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

As humans, we interact with thousands of things that can “trigger” our immune system and cause it to be overwhelmed. These triggers can be certain foods, stress, chemicals, or toxins in our environment. When our body becomes inundated with these triggers, that’s when things start to go wrong.

 

what is autoimmune disease

When its overwhelmed your immune system starts producing more antibodies. Those antibodies go to work and instead of attacking an actual infection, they go after healthy tissue instead.

The result is that your body starts to experience a wide range of symptoms that make you feel unwell. If those triggers are not eliminated or removed, the body eventually develops an autoimmune disease.

There are currently at least 100 conditions that are classified as autoimmune disease. They range from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and many more.

As you can see from this list, no body part is left out. Anything in the human body is vulnerable to an attack if a trigger occurs.

How Many People Have Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune disease has increased significantly in recent years. In fact, when the research was done to start working on this site, there were only 80 diseases listed as autoimmune. That number has increased by at least 20 in the last several months.

Over 50 million people in the United States are dealing with an autoimmune disease and more than 75% of them are women. According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA), most people see at least 5 different doctors over the course of 4.5 years before they receive a correct diagnosis.

 

what is autoimmune disease

Why Don’t More People Recover from Autoimmune Disease?

At the time of this writing, there is no known cure for autoimmune disease. However, there are currently at least 35 drugs that are prescribed for those who have been given an autoimmune diagnosis.

What exactly are these drugs? Most are steroids or pain relievers that come with a long list of side effects that are not only undesirable but dangerous for someone who is already ill. The overall problem with this is that these drugs are not designed to cure; they are designed to mask the symptoms so that the patient can feel better for the time being.

But how much help can those “medications” really be?

In future posts, I’ll be uncovering more about what is autoimmune disease. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on whether you feel healthcare professionals should be focused on healing rather than masking symptoms in the comments below.

References

National Institutes of Health – Autoimmune Disease

WebMD – What Are Autoimmune Disorders?

American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, Inc.

WebMD – Drugs Often Prescribed for Autoimmune Disorders