Fast Facts: Autoimmunity
- The immune system normally protects us from invaders such as bacteria and viruses, as well as from abnormal cells, such as those from cancers.
- The immune usually system recognizes these foreign substances and destroys them by means of large proteins known as antibodies.
- In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly launches an attack against its own healthy tissues.
- Different autoimmune diseases affect different parts of the body. Some other examples of autoimmune disease are Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosis, psoriasis, and celiac disease.
- Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
- Both genetics and environment play a role in autoimmunity. Some patients might be able to trace a long family history of autoimmune diseases, while others might be the first in the family to be diagnosed.