What is an Autoimmune Disease?
Your immune system is your body’s defense against pathogenic invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other infectious organisms. Under normal conditions, this system protects your body by producing antibodies or a type of white blood cells called sensitized lymphocytes. However, these antibodies can mistakenly attack the very cells they are supposed to protect which leads to autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases affect more than 23.5 million Americans, and they are the leading cause of disability and death. Some are common such as Hashimoto’s Disease, but many others are rare. They can affect anyone, but certain people are at greater risk which include women of childbearing age, people with a family history or ethnic background of certain diseases, as well as those with nutrient deficiencies and exposed to toxic foods and chemicals.
Following is a list of current autoimmune diseases with a short definition for each and categorized by type. As I continue to post about certain conditions, I will link those articles with its condition here for easy access. I will begin with the most common autoimmune conditions.
Blood & Lymph Related Autoimmune Diseases
An condition characterized by an absence of extremely low levels of gamma globulin in the blood plasma.
A disorder characterized by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies with arterial and venous thrombosis and may include obstetric complications.
A rare condition of the lymph nodes and related tissues characterized by cell proliferation (overgrowth).
CHURG-STRAUSS SYNDROME / EOSINOPHILIC GRANULOMATOSIS WITH POLYANGIITIS
An extremely rare condition that causes inflammation of small and medium-sized blood vessels (vasculitis) in persons with a history of airway allergic hypersensitivity.
COLD AGGLUTININ DISEASE
A rare blood disorder characterized by antibodies (cold agglutinins) being activated by cold temperatures and react by causing a clumping of red blood cells to which they are attached.
A very rare condition that destroys red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets that may induce thrombocytopenia (too few platelets) and Coombs’ positive hemolytic anemia (premature destruction of red blood cells).
GIANT CELL ARTERITIS / TEMPORAL ARTERITIS
A systemic inflammatory vasculitis that affects the temporal arteries of the head most frequently causing headaches and pain when the arteries in the head become inflamed.
GRANULOMATOSIS WITH POLYANIITIS / WEGENER'S GRANULOMATOSIS
A rare condition characterized by inflammation of various blood vessels but primarily the lungs and kidneys and can include the ears, nose, sinuses, and throat.
A condition is which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before the normal lifespan is completed.
A condition that causes small blood vessels to become swollen, irritated, and leak red blood cells which causes a purplish, bruise-like rash on the legs, buttocks, and arms.
A condition characterized by abnormally low levels of all classes of immunoglobulins and associated with heightened susceptibility to infectious diseases.
IGG4-RELATED SCLEROSING DISEASE
A chronic inflammatory condition characterized by tissue infiltration with lymphocytes and IgG4-secreting plasma cells causing fibrosclerosis and obliterative phlebitis.
IMMUNE THROMBOCYTOPENIC PURPURA
A condition characterized by low platelet levels that leads to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding as blood doesn’t clot normally.
A rare and serious inflammatory condition of the arteries, veins, and capillaries and is the leading cause of heart disease; it primarily affects children of Japanese and Korean descent.
An allergic, inflammatory condition of small blood vessels characterized by deposits of fragmented cells, nuclear dust, necrotic debris, and fibrin staining in the vessels causing skin lesions, particularly on the legs and accompanied by joint pain and fever; it is seen if people with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.
An uncommon condition characterized by blood vessel inflammation that can damage organ systems including skin, nerves, joints, lungs, and kidneys.
A condition associated with an unusually low number of neutrophil cells that protect against harmful bacteria and other invading organisms.
PAROXYSMAL NOCTURNAL HEMOGLOBINURIA
A rare acquired, life-threatening blood condition characterized by the destruction of red blood cells, blood clots, and impaired bone marrow function.
A condition characterized with decreased red blood cells due to the body not able to make enough Vitamin B12 causing severe fatigue and weakness.
A rare paraneoplastic syndrome characterized by an underlying plasma cell disorder and affects many parts of the body; symptoms include polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal plasmaproliferative disorder, and skin changes.
A rare blood vessel condition characterized by inflammation of the small and medium arteries, preventing them from bringing oxygen and food to the organs.
PURE RED CELL APLASIA
A rare bone marrow disorder characterized by an isolated decline of red blood cells causing anemia and reticulocytopenia (young red blood cells).
A condition characterized by the smaller arteries that supply blood to the skin to constrict excessively due to an overreaction to cold temperatures or stress, most often causing painful fingers that also change colors but can affect toes, ears, and the tip of the nose.
A chronic inflammatory condition characterized by the formation of granulomas, tiny clumps of inflammatory cells, in one or more organs of the body; it most commonly targets the lymph nodes and lungs.
A rare inflammatory condition that causes inflammation of the main (large) blood vessel that carries blood from the heart (aorta) to the rest of the body; it mostly affects women and children.
A rare blood disorder characterized by extravasation of blood into the tissues, under the skin, and through mucous membranes which produce spontaneous bruises, ecchymosis, and petechiae.
An inflammatory condition of the blood vessels that causes changes in the blood vessel walls – thickening and narrowing – cutting off vital blood supply to tissues and organs, causing fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and weight loss.
Bone & Joint Related Autoimmune Diseases
ADULT ONSET STILL'S DISEASE
A rare condition with acute febrile onset of arthritis in adults.
An inflammatory condition of the spine and joints that is more common in men and typically appears in young adulthood with a reduced flexibility that eventually results in a hunched-forward posture.
CHRONIC RECURRENT MULTIFOCAL OSTEOMYELITIS
An inflammatory bone condition that mostly affects children and adolescents with periodic fever, bone pain, and bone lesions that can develop anywhere in the body.
ESSENTIAL MIXED CRYOGLOBULINEMIA
A rare disorder characterized by the presence of cryoglobulins in the blood inducing cutaneous vasculitis, synovitis, and glomerulonephritis.
A condition in which there is inflammation of the synovium in children younger than 16 years of age.
A rare and episodic form of inflammatory arthritis; symptoms disappear between attacks with no lasting damage of the joints.
An inflammatory condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the shoulders.
A condition that combines swollen sore joints of arthritis with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes itchy, scaly red patches on the skin.
REACTIVE ARTHRITIS / REITER'S SYNDROME
A form of arthritis that causes inflammation and pain the joints but can also affects the eyes, skin, urinary tract, and mucous membranes; usually affects sexually active males between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
A chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet, with pain and damage.
Cardiovascular Related Autoimmune Diseases
An inflammatory condition of the heart muscle (myocardium) that results from a variety of causes, most likely produced by a viral infection or instigated by toxins, drugs, or hypersensitive immune reactions.
A neglected tropical condition causes by an infection with the protozoan parasite that has an autoimmune component based on circulating antibodies binding heart tissue antigens.
CONGENITAL HEART BLOCK
A rare disorder characterized by interference with the transfer of the electrical nerve impulses that regulate the normal, rhythmic, pumping action of the heart muscle; it is a condition that involves newborns of mothers with lupus.
A condition characterized by inflammation and weakness of the heart muscle caused by a viral infection (Coxsackie).
DRESSLER'S SYNDROME / POSTMYOCARDIAL INFARCTION SYNDROME / POSTPERICARDIOTOMY SYNDROME
A secondary pericarditis characterized by inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericardium) causing fever, pleuritic pain, pericarditis, and/or a pericardial effusion; it is thought be a result of injury to the heart or pericardium.
GIANT CELL MYOCARDITIS
A rare cardiovascular disorder characterized by inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium) and is frequently fatal; it affects mostly young to middle-aged, and otherwise healthy, individuals.
A rare acquired condition passively transferred at birth to the child from the mother who has systemic lupus erythematosus and characterized by the presence of anti-SSA/Ro or anti-SSB/La antibodies; symptoms include congenital heart block which is usually detected when the fetus is between 18 and 24 weeks old.
SUBACUTE BACTERIAL ENDOCARDITIS
A type of endocarditis (infective endocarditis) resulting from a form of streptococci viridans bacteria that normally live in the mouth and causes malaise, weakness, fever, and excessive sweating.
Digestive Related Autoimmune Diseases
A condition of the digestive system that damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption from food.
A chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that leads to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss, and fatigue.
A chronic, allergic, inflammatory condition of the esophagus that causes pain and may lead to swallowing difficulties.
A chronic, inflammatory condition of the colon and rectum causing tiny open sores or ulcers that produce pus, mucous, and blood.
Ear Related Autoimmune Diseases
AUTOIMMUNE INNER EAR DISEASE
An immune-mediated condition of the inner ear characterized by hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo.
A condition of the inner ear that causes vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear; it usually only affects one ear.
Endocrine Related Autoimmune Diseases
A disorder that disrupts the functioning part of the adrenal glands called the cortex which results in low production of two essential hormones: cortisol and aldosterone.
AUTOIMMUNE ORCHITIS / SPERM & TESTICULAR AUTOIMMUNITY
An inflammatory condition of the testis of males that is accompanied by fever, swelling, pain, and a heavy sensation in the affected area which also causes isolated infertility.
A condition characterized by diffuse enlargement of the pancreas and irregular stenosis of the main pancreatic duct.
A female condition characterized by the abnormal growth of cells that are similar to the uterus lining (endometrium) grow in other parts of the body causing swelling, inflammation, as well as scar tissue and adhesion in the area of the endometrial implants.
A condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland (also called hyperthyroidism) causing bulging of the eyes, diarrhea, poor tolerance for hot temperatures, fast metabolism, weight loss, racing heart, and high blood pressure, and irritability.
A condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland (also called hypothyroidism) that causes fatigue, constipation, dry skin, poor tolerance of cold temperatures, slow metabolism, weight gain, fluid retention, constipation, and depression; the thyroid gland is gradually destroyed.
JUVENILE DIABETES / TYPE 1 DIABETES
A chronic condition characterized by a pancreas that produces little to no insulin; it mostly affects children and adolescents.
POLYGLANDULAR SYNDROMES TYPE I, II, III
A rare set of conditions characterized by sequential or simultaneous deficiencies in the function of several endocrine glands.
Eye Related Autoimmune Diseases
A rare condition of the retina in the eye that leads to loss of eyesight.
A rare, multisystem inflammatory condition characterized mainly by severe uveitis and retinal vasculitis, affecting mostly males.
A rare disorder characterized by recurrent inflammation of the front of the eye (cornea), fever, dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss, and weight loss; it can lead to deafness or blindness if untreated.
DEVIC'S DISEASE / NEUROMYELITITIS OPTICA
A heterogeneous condition characterized by inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) and the spinal cord (myelitis).
A rare form of chronic conjunctivitis characterized by recurrent, fibrin-rich pseudomembranous lesions of wood-like consistency that develop mainly on the underside of the eyelid.
A rare, painful, inflammatory condition affecting one or both eyes resulting in the destruction of the corneal tissue.
OCULAR CICATRICIAL PEMPHIGOID
A rare condition that affects the skin and mucous membranes of the eye causing blistering of the skin and scarring of the conjunctiva.
An inflammatory condition that damages the optic nerve, a bundle of nerve fibers that transmits visual information from the eye to the brain; common symptoms include pain and temporary vision loss in one eye.
PARS PLANITIS / PERIPHERAL UVEITIS
A condition of the eye characterized by inflammation of the narrowed area (para plana) that is between the colored part of the eye (iris) and the choroid (vascular layer of the eye between the retina and sclera); symptoms include blurred vision, dark floating spots in the vision, and progressive vision loss.
A serious, inflammatory condition of the sclera (white portion of the eye).
A bilateral, granulomatous uveitis that occurs within days or months after surgery or injury to the eye and is a threat to vision.
A rare disordered characterized by painful ophthalmoplegia (paralysis or weakness of the eye muscles).
A condition of the middle layer of the eye called the uvea which include redness, pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and dark floating spots in the field of vision.
A rare condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the melanocytes (specialized cells that produce a pigment called melanin), mostly affected bilateral uveitis with redness, blurring of vision, and pain; symptoms may involve the inner ear, skin, and central nervous system.
Kidney Related Autoimmune Disease
GOODPASTURE'S SYNDROME (ANTI-GBM OR ANTI-TBM NEPHRITIS)
An uncommon and life-threatening hypersensitivity disorder characterized by kidney disease and lung hemorrhage.
A disorder of the glomeruli (clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys with small pores through which blood is filtered) characterized by edema, high blood pressure, and the presence of red blood cells in the urine.
GRANULOMATOSIS WITH POLYANGIITIS / WEGENER'S GRANULOMATOSIS
See “Blood & Lymph” Section.
IGA NEPHROPATHY / BERGER'S DISEASE
A condition that occurs when the IgA (an antibody) deposits build up in the kidneys causing inflammation and damage to the kidney tissues.
A chronic condition causing bladder pressure and pain, and sometimes pelvic pain; it usually affects women.
Liver Related Autoimmune Disease
An inflammatory condition of the liver in which the immune system attacks liver cells.
PRIMARY BILIARY CHOLANGITIS / PRIMARY BILIARY CIRRHOSIS
A chronic liver condition resulting from progressive destruction of the liver’s bile ducts (intrahepatic bile ducts) and leading to the buildup of bile in the liver which contributes to inflammation and scarring and eventually to cirrhosis.
PRIMARY SCLEROSING CHOLANGITIS
A chronic liver condition characterized by a progressive course of cholestasis with inflammation and fibrosis of the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts which leads to cirrhosis with portal hypertension and end-stage liver disease.
Metabolic Related Autoimmune Diseases
A progressive and incurable metabolic condition characterized by abnormal protein deposits in one or more organs.
Muscle & Connective Tissue Related Autoimmune Diseases
AXONAL & NEURONAL NEUROPATHY (AMAN)
A serious condition (variant of Guillain-Barre Syndrome) characterized by acute paralysis and loss of reflexes without sensory loss.
CHRONIC LYME DISEASE
A chronic inflammatory condition in which the bacterial infection, that started from a tick bite, spread throughout the body causing chronic arthritis, as well as increased neurological and cardiac symptoms.
A systemic connective tissue condition characterized by changes in the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and internal organs.
An inflammatory condition characterized by degenerative changes of the muscles and a skin rash.
A rare disorder characterized by inflammation of the tough band of fibrous tissue beneath the skin (fascia), affecting mostly the arms and legs.
INCLUSION BODY MYOSITIS
An inflammatory disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness and wasting; it primarily affects men.
A rare and life-threatening inflammatory condition marked by muscle weakness and skin rash, primarily in children and adolescents.
A rare neuromuscular condition that gradually weakens and fatigues the body’s voluntary muscles; it does not affect the heart or major organs unless cancer is involved.
MIXED CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE
A rare condition characterized by features commonly seen in three different connective disorders (polymyositis, scleroderma, and systemic lupus erythematosus) and damages various parts of the body.
A rare, chronic condition characterized by a defect in the action of acetylcholine at neuromuscular junctions and causes abnormal muscle weakness without atrophy.
An inflammatory condition of the muscles causing weakness, swelling, and pain.
PARRY ROMBERG SYNDROME
A rare condition characterized by progressive degeneration and shrinkage of the tissues beneath the skin, usually only on one side of the face and occasionally on other parts of the body.
An uncommon inflammatory condition characterized by inflammation of the muscles and associated tissues, such as the blood vessels that supply the muscles, causing weakness affecting both side of the body.
A rare rheumatic disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of painful, destructive inflammation of the cartilage and other connective tissues in many organs.
RETROPERITONEAL FIBROSIS / ORMOND'S DISEASE
A rare and progressive inflammatory condition characterized by abnormal formation of fiber-like tissue (fibrosis) develops behind the membrane that lines the cavity of the abdomen (peritoneum) and often spreads which affect the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
A rare but chronic connective tissue condition characterized by the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues causes joint pain, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and heartburn.
A chronic condition characterized by dryness of the eyes and mouth which can lead to tooth decay, recurring oral thrush, and persistent dry cough.
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS
A serious, inflammatory condition that damages any part of the body including skin, joints, and organs.
UNDIFFERENTIATED CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE
A condition that affects the muscles and connective tissues which does not meet the criteria for any specific autoimmune disease.
Neurological Related Autoimmune Diseases
A rare but serious condition of the esophagus that prevents normal swallowing.
A disorder characterized by abnormal functioning of the autonomic nervous system.
An inflammatory condition of the brain and spinal cord, typically due to acute viral infection.
A rare demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (a variant of Multiple Sclerosis) in which the myelin is progressively damaged.
CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEMYELINATING POLYNEUROPATHY
A rare neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the nerve roots and peripheral nerves, as well as the myelin sheath.
A chronic, neurosensory disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue.
A rare neurological disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system that leads to weakness, numbness, and tingling; it may also lead to paralysis.
See "Muscular & Connective Tissue” section.
MULTIFOCAL MOTOR NEUROPATHY
A rare neuropathy characterized by progressive, asymmetric muscle weakness and atrophy.
A chronic and typically progressive condition of the central nervous system characterized by damage to the myelin sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord exhibiting symptoms of numbness, impairment of speech and muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.
See "Muscular & Connective Tissue” section.
A sleep disorder that is characterized by a loss of brain cells called hypocretin that regulates sleep; symptoms include excessive sleepiness, sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control).
A neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus causing sudden and often major changes in personality, behavior, and movement in children following an infection.
PARANEOPLASTIC CEREBELLAR DEGENERATION
A neurological syndrome in which symptoms are indirectly caused by an underlying malignancy – most commonly malignant cancers of gynecological, breast, and lung cancer, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
An uncommon neurological disorder characterized by rapid onset of severe pain in the shoulder and arm that worsens over time.
A condition that results when messenger nerves from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body are diseased or damaged.
A pathological hallmark of acute disseminate encephalomyelitis characterized by widespread inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages the myelin or protective covering of nerve fibers; it often follows viral or bacterial infections and sometimes, but less often, vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella.
RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME / WILLIS-EKBOM DISEASE
A condition that is characterized by an uncomfortable sensation which causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs.
A rare but potentially life-threatening condition resulting from a complication of untreated strep throat (group A streptococcus) causing rapid, jerky, and involuntary movements of most one side of the body.
STIFF PERSON SYNDROME
A rare neurological disorder characterized by progressive rigidity and stiffness primarily affecting the truncal muscles and is superimposed by spasms and resulting in postural deformities.
An uncommon neurologic condition characterized by encephalopathy (brain disease), hearing loss, and vision loss.
An inflammatory condition of the spinal cord characterized by damage of myelin and interrupting the messages that the spinal cord sends to the rest of the body.
TYPE 1 COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME / REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY
A progressive condition of the autonomic nervous systems characterized by pain that is greater than would be expected from the injury that caused it.
Respiratory Related Autoimmune Diseases
An interstitial condition that affects the tissues that support the air sacs within the lungs, making it difficult for taking in needed oxygen.
GOODPATURE'S SYNDROME (ANTI-GBM OR ANTI-TBM NEPHRITIS)
See "Kidney” Section.
GRANULOMATOSIS WITH POLYANGIITIS / WEGENER'S GRANULOMATOSIS
See "Blood & Lymph” Section.
See “Blood & Lymph” Section.
Skin & Hair Related Autoimmune Diseases
A condition that causes hair loss or baldness.
A rare disorder, differing from hereditary angioedema, that triggers swelling in the deep dermis, subcutaneous, or submucosal tissues appearing as giant wheals.
A vascular reaction of the skin marked by chronic idiopathic hives.
BENIGN MUCOSAL PEMPHIGOID
A rare, chronic condition characterized by erosive skin lesions of the mucous membranes and skin resulting in scarring.
A rare skin condition that causes large, fluid-filled blisters on skins areas that often flex such as the lower abdomen, upper thighs, or armpits.
A subepithelial blistering condition that is rare and chronic characterized by erosive skin lesions of the mucous membranes and skin that results in scarring.
A chronic skin condition caused by a reaction to gluten ingestion and characterized by blisters filled with watery fluid.
See "Muscle & Connective Tissue” section.
DISCOID LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS
A chronic skin condition characterized by severe rashes and sores causing inflammation and scarring; it favors the face, ears, and scalp but can affect other parts of the body.
A skin disorder characterized by painful red nodules appearing mostly on the shins.
HYDRADENITIS SUPPURATIVE / ACNE INVERSA
A condition that begins as pimple-like skin bumps, or deeper acne-like nodules and sometimes boils, that tend to develop in places that everyday pimples do not appear such as the underarms and groin.
An inflammatory condition usually characterized by a chronic rash of scaly skin plaques but can also affect the mucous membranes.
A rare skin condition that leads to the formation of thin, white patches on the skin, usually in the genital or anal areas; it primary affects post-menopausal women.
LINEAR IGA DISEASE
A rare chronic condition characterized by linear deposits of IgA at the basement membrane zone affecting the skin and mucous membranes with blistering.
A rare and severe condition characterized by acute dermatitis but can exhibit persistent lesions on the trunk, arms, and legs; it affects primarily children and young adults.
PEMPHIGOID GESTANTIONIS / HERPES GESTATIONIS
A rare condition involving pregnant women and characterized by an itchy rash that develops into blisters; it is most common during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
A group of rare skin disorders that cause blisters and sores on the skin or mucous membranes such as the mouth or genitals.
A rare cyclic premenstrual reaction to progesterone, a hormone produced in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
A common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells causing them to buildup rapidly on the surface of the skin and forming scales and red patches that can be itchy and painful.
See "Bone & Joint” section.
A rare but serious ulcerating skin disorder characterized by small, red bumps or blisters that eventually erode to form ulcerations.
A condition characterized by pigment-producing cells to die or stop functioning causing skin to lose color.