Autoimmune Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Autoimmune Diseases - Types, Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

The human body comprises of a defense mechanism, known as the immune system. Its primary function is to fight off any viruses or infections that might be present in the body. Many of the infections and diseases are dealt by the immune system, but there are a few that can unexpectedly harm the body. Also known as autoimmune disease, these diseases trick the immune system into attacking the healthy cells of the body. As a result, the entire body is susceptible to this disease, and treating it can be a problem.

There is no apparent cause for the rise of an autoimmune disease, but it’s most likely due to genetic factors.  Also, women are more likely to have an autoimmune disease as compared to men.

The main reason as to why autoimmune diseases are hazardous is that almost all of them portray similar symptoms. Hence, let’s take a closer look at the various autoimmune diseases, their symptoms & causes, and its types. Let’s get started.


Types of autoimmune diseases


There are several types of autoimmune diseases which can attack your body. Few of these are given below:

  •    Rheumatoid arthritis – The body makes antibodies, that attach themselves to the joints of the human body. The immune system then proceeds to attack the healthy tissue, causes swelling, inflammation, and pain. If left untreated, it can cause permanent joint damage.


  •    Inflammatory bowel disease – This disease is associated with episodes of chronic diarrhoea, constipation, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fever, urgent bowel movements, and weight loss. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two types of inflammatory bowel disease.


  •    Systemic lupus erythematosus – Lupus is quite a dangerous form of autoimmune disease because it attaches itself to the tissues of the body. Thus, it affects the blood cells, kidneys, lungs, nerves, and joints.


  •    Multiple sclerosis – Multiple Sclerosis is associated with spasms, weakness, blindness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination.


  •    Guillain-Barre syndrome – In this autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks the body’s nervous system, controlling the muscles of the legs, upper arms, or at times the upper body. Severe weakness and pain are the related symptoms of the disease.


  •    Type 1 diabetes mellitus – This autoimmune disease ruptures and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Thus, regular shots of insulin are required to live a healthy life.


  •    Graves’ disease – The immune system attacks the thyroid glands, which leads to excess secretion of the thyroid hormone. This leads to hyperthyroidism. The main symptoms of Graves’ disease are rapid heart rate, brittle hair, nervousness, irritability, weight loss, and bulged eyes.


  •    Psoriasis – In this type of autoimmune disease, T cells reproduce on a rapid scale and accumulate on the skin. This leads to silvery and scaly plaques.


  •    Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy – This autoimmune disease is similar to Guillain-Barre syndrome, but the only difference is that the symptoms last longer, and it is unpredictable when it attacks. Almost 30% of all patients who have been diagnosed with the condition are either confined to a wheelchair or have lost the ability to make any sort of movement.


  •    Vasculitis – This type of autoimmune disease attacks the blood vessels of the body, it can affect any organ and spread across the body through blood vessels. Based on the organ that it might have affected; the symptoms vary accordingly.



Symptoms of autoimmune diseases


The symptoms of autoimmune diseases are tedious to detect. Not because there aren’t any, but all of the symptoms are very common, and identifying the type of autoimmune disease is very tough. The symptoms are enlisted below.

  •    Weight loss
  •    Fatigue
  •    Rashes on skin
  •    Numbness in various parts of the body, such as hands and legs
  •    Weakness
  •    Achy muscles
  •    Swelling and redness
  •    Hay fever
  •    Irritability
  •    Trouble in concentration
  •    Loss of hair
  •    Increase of thirst
  •    Pain

The above-given symptoms vary based on the type of autoimmune disease that has affected the body. The period in which the symptoms go away is known as remission. The general giveaways of autoimmune disease are muscle pain, inflammation, swelling, redness of skin and illness. These symptoms might come and go at any point in time.



Causes of autoimmune disease


The primary cause of an autoimmune disease is relatively unknown. But doctors are still confused as to what might trigger the immune system to misfire. Particularly in women, as they are more likely to get an autoimmune disease. Often women are subjected to an autoimmune disease between the age of 15-44. The other causes of autoimmune diseases are given below.

  •    Genetics – Several genetically related diseases can run within the family. Conditions such as lupus and multiple sclerosis are often the common autoimmune diseases that could be caused through genetics. Having a relative with an autoimmune disease increases the chance of you having it as well.


  •    Smoking – Research has shown us that Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and lupus are common diseases that are caused by smoking.


  •    Weight – Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis are often caused by either being obese or overweight. It is because the body puts greater weight on the joint and tissues that further leads to inflammation and the rise of autoimmune diseases.


  •    Medication – Studies have shown that blood pressure medication or antibiotics can trigger a benign form of lupus in the body. It’s advised that consulting a doctor would be fruitful.


Diagnosis of autoimmune diseases


For the detection of an autoimmune disease, just one test cannot determine its occurrence. There is a combination of physical and invasive tests that are carried out for the proper diagnosis of autoimmune disease. The primary diagnosis based on the symptoms of any autoimmune disease is antinuclear antibody test (ANA). The test determines whether or not you have an autoimmune disease. But, to confirm the type of autoimmune disease, a series of tests need to be carried out. Tests are based on the secretion of antibodies by a gland or a specific location on the body. Non-specific tests based on the inflammation are also a part of the overall diagnosis.


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