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Autoimmune Diseases

An autoimmune disease is when the body’s defense system can’t tell the difference between its own cells and foreign cells. When this happens, the body attacks normal cells by mistake. There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases that affect different body parts. Although autoimmune diseases affect men and women, they are more common in women.


Common Autoimmune Diseases in Women

Rheumatoid arthritis


Sjogren's Syndrome


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome






Psoriatic arthritis




Myasthenia Gravis


Thyroid diseases


Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Risk Factors

Although it’s not known what causes autoimmune diseases, there are some risk factors that can contribute to the chances of developing autoimmune diseases. These factors include:

  • Women of childbearing age
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Toxins
  • Certain medications


  • Fatigue 
  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Skin problems 
  • Digestive issues
  • Abdominal pain
  • Recurring fever
  • Swollen glands

When to Seek Care

Each autoimmune disease is unique. But they all share similar symptoms. Many of the symptoms are the same for other health problems. This makes it harder for doctors to diagnose you with an autoimmune disease and specifically which one you might have. If you’re having any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should call your doctor and find the cause. Finding out which autoimmune disease you might have can be a long and stressful process, but getting answers is necessary to treat your autoimmune disease. These steps can help you find out what could be the cause of your symptoms:

  • Researching your family history. 
  • Recording your symptoms and noting how long you’ve been having them. 
  • Seeing a specialist.

Treatment Options

There are different types of treatment options. New treatments are being researched all the time. In addition to cover-the-counter drugs for mild symptoms, there are prescriptions drugs that suppress the immune system.  

If drugs aren’t an option, there are alternative medicines and practices including:

  • Herbal products
  • Chiropractic services
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis

You should always discuss with your doctor the benefits and risk of trying alternative medicine.

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Last Updated: October 20, 2023
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