Autoimmune Diseases: Definition, Causes, How Does it Affect us, Symptoms, Tests, Categorization, Prevention, and Treatments

autoimmune diseases blood test

We are now much more concerned about our health, but sometimes our own body starts to fight against itself, which negatively impacts our health.

Autoimmune diseases are one of the ways how our own body destroys its cells and tissues.

A massive cellular attack causes such conditions. In this article, we are going to elaborate some more on this disease. With the intent of helping people to know about the prevention and cure of autoimmune disorders.

The body’s immune system protects us from disease and infection; it accomplishes this task by eliminating germs, microorganisms, and several pathogens.

But, if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks the healthy cells of your body by mistake. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body.

The causes are not known. These diseases tend to be hereditary. Women, particularly African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and North American Indians, are at high risk of contracting an autoimmune disease.

There are more than 80 types of these diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This resemblance makes it difficult for your doctor to know if you have one of these disorders and if you have one, of which one.

For physicians, getting a diagnosis can be frustrating and stressful. In many cases, the first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches, and a slightly low fever.

But the classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, warmth, pain, and swelling.

The diseases can also become acuter, that is to say, that it has moments in which they get worse, but they can also have remissions that are when the symptoms subside or even disappear.

Treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases, the important thing is to reduce inflammation.

Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids (steroids) or another type of medication that reduces the response of your immune system.

An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

Explaining More About The Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease is a specialized body massacre. The root of this disease lies in your own body. First, we need to know about the immune system.

The Immune system is a self-regulated process in our body. It fights against harmful particles and bacteria against to protect our body. Blood, glands and other parts of the body create a robust immune system.

When any virus attacks our body, the white blood cells work as the protectors of our health by battling these intruders. It’s a constant struggle against a wide variety of threats

Once the immune system wins the battle against the infection or bacteria, antigens produce antibodies capable of destroying more efficiently the harmful elements that just attacked us should a second infection occur

But under an autoimmune condition, they cannot tell normal cells apart from a dangerous intruder. So gradually, malignant cells will spread into your whole body causing some sporadic illness.


Blood cells in the immune system help protect the body from harmful substances. Examples include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, as well as blood or tissues from outside the organization. These materials contain antigens.

The immune system produces antibodies against these antigens that allow it to destroy these harmful substances.

When you have an autoimmune disorder, the immune system does not differentiate between healthy tissue and antigens. As a result, the body prompts lymphocytes to destroys normal tissues.

The cause of autoimmune disorders is unknown. One theory holds that some microorganisms (such as bacteria or viruses) or drugs can trigger changes that confuse the immune system.

Such thing can happen more often in people who have genes that make them more prone to autoimmune disorders.

Another theory is that, after dealing with a disease, the immune system antibodies through proteins similar to the ones existing in our body.

As a result, a wrongly developed antibody confuses healthy cells with disease agents

How does it affect us

An autoimmune disorder can lead to:

  • Destruction of body tissue.
  • Abnormal growth of an organ.
  • Changes in organ function.
  • An autoimmune disorder can affect one or more organs or types of tissue.

The areas frequently affected by autoimmune disorders are:

  • Blood vessels
  • Connective tissues
  • Endocrine glands such as thyroid or pancreas
  • Articulations
  • Muscles
  • Red blood cells
  • Skin

A person may have more than one autoimmune disorder at a time. Common autoimmune disorders include:

  • Addison’s disease
  • Celiaquía (sprue) (gluten enteropathy)
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Type I Diabetes


Symptoms vary based on the type and location of the defective immune response.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • General discomfort (indisposition)
  • Joint pain
  • Acne

Although patients with autoimmune diseases may present some nonspecific signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, low-grade fever, discouragement, weight loss and malaise, the truth is that the clinical picture of each autoimmune disease is very different.

Diseases such as type 1 diabetes, lupus and psoriasis attack different organs, in different ways and, therefore, have their signs and symptoms.

They are such various diseases that they have to get treated by different specialists, such as an endocrinologist, rheumatologist, and dermatologist, respectively.

The only similarity is the fact that they have an autoimmune origin. Therefore, no symptom is specific to an autoimmune disease. Each autoimmune disease has its clinical picture.

The diagnosis of autoimmune diseases is usually made based on the clinical picture and the investigation of autoantibodies in the blood.

The most common is ANA (Antinuclear Antibody), which can be positive in several, but not all, autoimmune diseases.

Tests and exams

The health care provider will perform a physical examination. The signs depend on the type of illness.

Tests that can be done to diagnose an autoimmune disorder include:

  • Antinuclear Antibody Testing
  • Autoantibody tests
  • Complete blood count
  • Complete Metabolic Test Group
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, for its acronym in English)
  • Urine analysis

Results of the Autoimmune Disease

Well, when the disease attacks a healthy body, there is no turning back. Let’s see the effects caused by this problem.

First of all, the disease will destroy your health, body tissue and cells. Starting from the membrane of your cells, it will take place deep into the fabric. The flexibility of your body will not remain the same.

One of the organs of the patient’s body will start to grow abnormally. This abnormality will show how severe is the patient being attacked by this uncategorized disease.

The Endocrine system of the patient will stop working, which can even cause lifetime paralysis.


There are some regular autoimmune diseases. They are listed downward:

  • Addison’s disease is a common type of autoimmune disease.
  • Celiac Disease is a blood particle disorder. It destroys red blood cells and decreases the hemoglobin level of the body.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis makes the thyroid and parathyroid glands work less.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in aged people. The uric acid inside the bones gets jammed and causes much pain. Gradually, it turns the cell division in an abnormal state.


As soon as the disease is detected, the person must contact a specialist. Sometimes medication can cure it. In some manner, surgery may also be applicable.

The objectives of treatment are:

  • Reduce symptoms
  • To control the autoimmune process
  • Maintaining the body’s ability to fight disease


The treatment of most autoimmune diseases consists in the inhibition of the immune system by immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids (see: Prednisone and Glucocorticoids – For What to Take and Side Effects), cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, rituximab, azathioprine, etc.

The problem of the treatment of autoimmune diseases with immunosuppressants is the fact that we have not been able to perform selective immunosuppression on undesirable antibodies.

In other words, we can not inhibit the functioning of harmful antibodies and eventually create a state of general immunosuppression that predisposes patients to infection by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Each autoimmune disease has its scheme. Some of them, such as type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, are not treated with immunosuppressive drugs. There is no single treatment for any autoimmune disease.

The treatments will depend on the disease and its symptoms.

Types of treatments include:

  • Supplements to replace a substance that the body is missing, such as thyroid hormone, B12 vitamins or insulin, due to autoimmune disease.
  • Blood transfusions if blood is affected.
  • Physiotherapy to help with movement if bones, joints or muscles are affected.

Many people take medications to reduce the abnormal response of the immune system. They are often called immunosuppressive drugs.

Examples include corticosteroids (such as prednisone) and non-steroidal drugs such as cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, mycophenolate, sirolimus, or tacrolimus.

Medical experts can use targeted medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers to deal with specific diseases.