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What are Autoimmune Diseases?

Most autoimmune diseases are associated with inflammation, which causes redness, swelling, pain, and heat. Most autoimmune diseases attack more than 1 body part and the symptoms depend on the body part affected. T


By Team ArabiaMD

 • 3 min read • 
What are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, and Common Types


A healthy immune system is essential for defending the body against infections and diseases. However, sometimes the immune system can malfunction and attack the body's own organs, tissues, and healthy cells, leading to autoimmune diseases. There are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, some of which are rare and difficult to diagnose. These diseases can affect any part of the body, weaken bodily functions, and even be life-threatening. Most autoimmune diseases have no cure, but treatment can help manage the symptoms.

Causes of Autoimmune Diseases

The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully understood. However, scientists believe that a combination of factors, including genes and the environment, play a role.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases

Most autoimmune diseases are associated with inflammation, which can cause redness, swelling, pain, and heat. The symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary depending on the body part that is affected. Some common symptoms include:

  • Skin: Rashes, color changes, and blisters
  • Thyroid: Weight gain, exhaustion, or muscle aches
  • Joints: Joint pain, loss of function, and stiffness

Common Autoimmune Diseases

While there are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, the following are some of the most prevalent:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, joint pain, and damage throughout the body. It typically affects joints on both sides of the body. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for managing the symptoms. Common symptoms include inflammation and joint pain, which can worsen during flares and improve during remission. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the wrists, hands, and knees, but it can also affect other organs and tissues in the body.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are ineffective. Without insulin, the body cannot use glucose for energy, leading to high blood sugar levels. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include fatigue, excessive hunger, frequent urination, excessive thirst, dramatic weight loss, and blurred vision.

Psoriasis/Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a rapid build-up of skin cells, leading to skin flaking. Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that occurs in some individuals with psoriasis, causing joint pain and inflammation. Psoriasis commonly affects the knees, elbows, scalp, face, hands, neck, and feet.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune condition that has alternating phases of mild and severe symptoms. Common symptoms of SLE include joint pain, severe fatigue, headaches, joint swelling, a butterfly rash, anemia, hair loss, and blood clotting problems.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that attacks the protective layer (myelin sheath) covering nerve cells in the central nervous system. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty walking, speech issues, and vision problems.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of intestinal conditions that cause long-term inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms can include bleeding ulcers, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, cramping, anemia, and weight loss.


Autoimmune diseases can be challenging to diagnose due to their overlapping symptoms. While these diseases can be life-threatening, proper treatment can help manage the symptoms. It is important to consult healthcare professionals, such as the best general practitioners in Dubai, for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Autoimmune Diseases