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Autoimmune diseases

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Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. Today there are more than 40 human diseases classified as either definite or probable autoimmune diseases and they affect 5-7% of the population. Almost all autoimmune diseases appear without warning or apparent cause and most patients suffer from fatigue.

The causes of autoimmune diseases are still obscure: some are thought to be either examples of, or precipitated by, diseases of affluence. For example, arthritis and obesity are acknowledged to be related, and the World Health Organisation states that arthritis is most common in developed countries. Most autoimmune diseases are probably the result of multiple circumstances: for example, a genetic predisposition triggered by an infection.

Women tend to be affected more often by autoimmune disorders, nearly 79% of autoimmune disease patients in the USA are women [1]. Also they tend to appear during or shortly after puberty. It is not known why this is the case, although hormone levels have been shown to affect the severity of some autoimmune diseases such as [multiple sclerosis] [2]. Other causes may include the presence of fetal cells in the maternal bloodstream.


Autoimmune diseases


Diseases with a complete or partial autoimmune etiology:


Diseases suspected to be linked to autoimmunity are:

  • Interstitial cystitis is a urinary bladder disease characterised by pelvic pain, urinary frequency (as often as every 30 minutes), pain with sexual intercourse, but no pain with urination.
  • Neuromyotonia is spontaneous muscular activity resulting from repetitive motor unit action potentials of peripheral origin. It develops as a result of both acquired or hereditary diseases. The acquired form is more frequent and is usually caused by antibodies against neuromuscular junction.
  • Scleroderma is a chronic disease characterized by excessive deposits of collagen. Progressive systemic scleroderma, the serious type of the disease, can be fatal. The local type of the disease is not serious.
  • Vitiligo is the spontaneous loss of pigment from areas of skin. The pigment-free areas have few or no melanocytes. Researchers have detected anti-melanocyte antibodies in some cases of vitiligo, so it seems likely that at least some instances of this condition are the result of autoimmune problems.
  • Vulvodynia is used to describe pain in the vulva, often severe, of unknown cause. "Vulvar vestibulitis" is a related term.
  • Chagas' disease in the chronic phase is beleaved to result from a T. cruzi antigen homologie to body tissue resulting in a delayed autoimmune reaction leading to Chagasic cardiopathy (cardiomegaly), volvulus or constipation and ultimately death.

External links


Aaseng, Nathan; Franklin Watts Library Edition: Autoimmune Diseases ISBN 0-531-12553-x

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