Autoimmune diseases arise from an abnormal immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body (autoimmunity). This may be restricted to certain organs or involve a particular tissue in different places.
A large number of autoimmune diseases are recognized.
It has been estimated that autoimmune diseases are among the top ten leading causes of death among women in all age groups up to 65 years.A substantial minority of the population suffers from these diseases, which are often chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening.There are more than 80 illnesses caused by autoimmunity.
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means our immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and our body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
The treatment of autoimmune diseases is typically with immunosuppression—medication that decreases the immune response.