Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases (also commonly called autoimmune disorders) are illnesses caused by a malfunctioning immune system.

A healthy immune system helps the body fight disease. It makes proteins called antibodies that identify and attack substances that may harm a person. Any substance that leads a person’s immune system to make these antibodies is called an antigen. Some antigens, such as viruses and certain bacteria, may threaten a person’s health. But sometimes, a person's immune system is hypersensitive and attacks antigens that are harmless to most other people.

In an autoimmune disease, the immune system misidentifies a substance that naturally occurs inside the body as a threat. It then makes antibodies to fight these substances (called autoantigens). In other words, the body attacks itself.

See also Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
See also Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, SLE)
See also Lyme Disease
See also Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
See also Scleroderma
See also Sjogren's Syndrome

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