An autoimmune disease is a condition where your body is attacking itself by mistake. Our immune system normally protects against germs like viruses and bacteria and when it detects these invaders, it sends out fighter cells to attack them. When you don’t have an autoimmune condition, your system can detect the difference between foreign cells and your own cells.
When it comes to an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes parts of your body as foreign ones and releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack your healthy cells. Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like lupus, affect the whole body.
Experts don’t know what causes the immune system to act like this when it’s dealing with an autoimmune disease, but they do know that some people are more likely to develop an autoimmune disease than others. Women get autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men — 6.4 percent of women vs. 2.7 percent of men. Often the disease starts during a woman’s childbearing years (ages 14 to 44).
Our health is important, so knowing certain things about autoimmune conditions might save your life. Here are 4 signs an autoimmune condition may be attacking your body!