An autoimmune disease is a condition arising from an abnormal immune response to a functioning body part. There are at least 80 types of autoimmune diseases, with some evidence suggesting that there may be more than 100 types. Nearly any body part can be involved. Common symptoms include low grade fever and feeling tired. Often symptoms come and go.
|Young woman with malar rash, typically found in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)|
|Specialty||Rheumatology, immunology, gastroenterology, neurology, dermatology|
|Symptoms||Depends on the condition. Commonly low grade fever, feeling tired|
|Types||List of autoimmune diseases (alopecia areata, celiac disease, diabetes mellitus type 1, Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, others)|
|Medication||Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, intravenous immunoglobulin|
|Frequency||24 million / 7% (USA)|
The cause is unknown. Some autoimmune diseases such as lupus run in families, and certain cases may be triggered by infections or other environmental factors. Some common diseases that are generally considered autoimmune include celiac disease, diabetes mellitus type 1, Graves' disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. The diagnosis can be difficult to determine.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immunosuppressants are often used. Intravenous immunoglobulin may also occasionally be used. While treatment usually improves symptoms, they do not typically cure the disease.
About 24 million (~7.5%) people in the United States are affected by an autoimmune disease. Women are more commonly affected than men. Often they start during adulthood. The first autoimmune diseases were described in the early 1900s.