Autoimmune disease symptoms are caused by an immune response against the body's own tissues

Autoimmune disease symptoms develop when the immune system destroys normal body tissues. This is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction similar to allergies, where the immune system reacts to substances it would normally ignore.

The immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances (antigens) such as microorganisms, toxins, cancer cells, and foreign blood or tissues from another person or species. Antigens are destroyed by the immune response, which includes production of antibodies (molecules that attach to the antigen and make it more susceptible to destruction) and sensitized lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells that recognize and destroy particular antigens).

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In allergies, the immune system reacts to an external substance that would normally be harmless. Autoimmune disease symptoms occur as a result of a reaction to normal "self" body tissues.

Normally, the immune system is capable of differentiating "self" from "non-self" tissue. Some immune system cells (lymphocytes) become sensitized against "self" tissue cells, but these faulty lymphocytes are usually controlled (suppressed) by other lymphocytes. Autoimmune disorders occur when the normal control process is disrupted. They may also occur if normal body tissue is altered so that it is no longer recognized as "self." The mechanisms that cause disrupted control or tissue changes are not known. One theory holds that various microorganisms and drugs may trigger some of these changes, particularly in people with a genetic predisposition to an autoimmune disorder.

Autoimmune disease symptoms are a result of the destruction of one or more types of body tissues, abnormal growth of an organ, or changes in organ function. The disorder may affect only one organ or tissue type or may affect multiple organs and tissues. Organs and tissues commonly affected by autoimmune disorders include blood components such as red blood cells, blood vessels, connective tissues, endocrine glands such as the thyroid or pancreas, muscles, joints, and skin.

Autoimmune disease symptoms

Autoimmune disease symptoms vary widely depending on the type of disease. A group of very nonspecific symptoms often accompany autoimmune diseases especially of the collagen vascular type and include:

  • fatigue

  • dizziness

  • malaise (nonspecific feeling of not being well)

  • fever, low-grade temperature elevations

Specific autoimmune disease results in the destruction of an organ or tissue resulting in decreased functioning of an organ or tissue (for example, the islet cells of the pancreas are destroyed in diabetes), an increase in size of an organ or tissue (for example, thyroid enlargement in Grave's disease). Symptoms vary with the specific disorder and the organ or tissue affected.

Autoimmune disease symptoms may also reflect an inappropriate rate of C-reactive protein (CRP).

Treatment and prevention of autoimmune disease symptoms

Hormones or other substances normally produced by the affected organ may need to be supplemented. This may include thyroid supplements, vitamins, insulin injections, or other supplements. Disorders that affect the blood components may require blood transfusions.

Autoimmunity is controlled through balanced suppression of the immune system. The goal is to reduce the immune response against normal body tissue while leaving intact the immune response against micro-organisms and abnormal tissues. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressant medications (including cyclophosphamide or azathioprine) are used to reduce the immune response. A good health supplement can also assist in this process in a natural way, without the severe side effects of medication. It can also be taken as a preventive measure.

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