Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system, which normally protects the body against infections and foreign invaders, mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body. In other words, the immune system is "confused" and cannot distinguish between self and non-self cells.
The immune system typically produces antibodies and immune cells (such as T cells) that target and destroy foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system produces antibodies and immune cells that attack the body's own cells and tissues, leading to inflammation, tissue damage, and dysfunction of the affected organs.
There are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, and they can affect virtually any part of the body, including the joints, muscles, skin, blood vessels, and organs such as the thyroid, pancreas, and kidneys. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, and autoimmune thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis).
The exact causes of autoimmune diseases are not fully understood, but they are believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Women are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases than men, and some autoimmune diseases tend to run in families.
Treatment for autoimmune diseases typically involves medications to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation, as well as lifestyle modifications such as exercise, stress reduction, and a healthy diet. Although there is currently no cure for autoimmune diseases, many people with these conditions are able to manage their symptoms and lead full, productive lives with proper treatment and self-care.