Adapted by Thyroid Guide, Mary J. Shomon
What Are the Causes of Autoimmune Diseases?
Are they contagious? No autoimmune disease has ever been shown to be contagious or "catching." Autoimmune diseases do not spread to other people like infections. They are not related to AIDS, nor are they a type of cancer.
Are they inherited? The genes people inherit contribute to their susceptibility for developing an autoimmune disease. Certain diseases such as psoriasis can occur among several members of the same family. This suggests that a specific gene or set of genes predisposes a family member to psoriasis. In addition, individual family members with autoimmune diseases may inherit and share a set of abnormal genes, although they may develop different autoimmune diseases. For example, one first cousin may have lupus, another may have dermatomyositis, and one of their mothers may have rheumatoid arthritis.
(listed by the Main Target Organs)
|Nervous Systems:||Gastrointestinal System:|
|Multiple sclerosis||Crohn's Disease|
|Myasthenia gravis||Ulcerative colitis|
|Autoimmune neuropathies||Primary biliary cirrhosis|
|such as Guillain-Barré||Autoimmune hepatitis|
|Blood:||Type 1 or immune mediated|
|Autoimmune hemolytic anemia||diabetes mellitus|
|Pernicious anemia||Grave's Disease|
|Autoimmune thrombocytopenia||Hashimoto's thyroiditis|
|Autoimmune oophoritis and|
|Temporal artertis||Autoimmune disease of the|
|Anti-phospholipid syndrome||adrenal gland|
|Vasculitides such as|
|Wegener's granulomatosis||Multiple Organs Including the|
|Behcet's disease||Musculoskeletal Systems:*|
|Skin:||Systemic lupus erythematosus|
|Dermatitis herpetiformis||Polymyositis, dermatomyositis|
|Pemphigus vulgaris||Spondyloarthropathies such as|
|*These diseases are also called connective tissue (muscle, skeleton, tendons, fascia, etc.) diseases.|
The development of an autoimmune disease may be influenced by the genes a person inherits together with the way the person's immune system responds to certain triggers or environmental influences.
What other factors may influence the development of autoimmune diseases? Some autoimmune diseases are known to begin or worsen with certain triggers such as viral infections. Sunlight not only acts as a trigger for lupus but can worsen the course of the disease. It is important to be aware of the factors that can be avoided to help prevent or minimize the amount of damage from the autoimmune disease. Other less understood influences affecting the immune system and the course of autoimmune diseases include aging, chronic stress, hormones, and pregnancy.
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This article was adapted from information provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases