What is Autoimmunity?
When a virus or other germs attack your body your immune system defends you. It is designed to seek and destroy the invaders. However, at times the same process can harm you. Immune cells can mistake your healthy tissue and cause and autoimmune response that can affect many parts of your body. The result is called autoimmunity or self-immunity and develops into one or more autoimmune diseases
. No one knows why the immune system sometimes attacks healthy cells. We do know that autoimmune diseases cannot be caught from other people.
What could cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue? It is believed by most scientists that our genes and things in the environment are involved. A certain gene or combination of genes may put you at a higher risk for autoimmune disease. It is generally accepted that there is a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity that occurs in one or more family members. But, you will not get a disease until something “triggers” your immune system.
An outside agent is needed to initiate the autoimmune process. These are called environmental triggers and may include the sun, infections, diet, drugs, unusual body stress or hormonal changes. These triggers, however, will usually act only on people with a genetic predisposition and not on the general population. Even in the most highly predisposed person a disease may not occur if the trigger can be identified, the patient forewarned and prevention methods taken.
For a list of autoimmune diseases and links for more information, please click here...