Autoimmune Disorders - Description

Many forms of autoimmune disorders are now recognized. These disorders are classified as general or organ specific. A general autoimmune disorder is one that attacks a number of tissues throughout the body. An organ specific disorder attacks only one type of organ at a time.

Some examples of autoimmune disorders include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (pronounced LOO-puhs er-uh-THEM-uhtuhs; see lupus entry) is a general autoimmune disorder. The condition occurs primarily in young and middle-aged women.
  • Rheumatoid (pronounced ROO-muh-toid) arthritis (see arthritis entry) is inflammation of joints. It occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys tissue that lines the bone joints and cartilage.
  • Goodpasture's syndrome is an inflammation of the lungs and kidneys. It occurs primarily in young males.
  • Grave's disease affects the thyroid gland. The diseases causes the gland to make an excessive amount of thyroid hormone.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis also affects the thyroid gland. But it causes a reduction in the amount of thyroid hormone produced by the gland.
  • Pemphigus vulgaris (pronounced PEM-fi-guhs vuhl-GARE-uhs) is a group of autoimmune disorders that affects the skin.
  • Myasthenia (pronounced MY-uhs-THEE-nee-uh) gravis is caused when messages from nerve cells to muscles are disrupted. Muscles become weakened.
  • Scleroderma (pronounced SKLEER-uh-DIR-muh) causes a toughening and hardening of connective tissue.
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition that causes damage to red blood cells (see anemia entry).
  • Autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura (pronounced THROM-buh-SI-tuh-PEE-nick PIR-puh-ruh) results in destruction to blood platelets, cells that help blood to clot.
  • Pernicious anemia develops when the body can no longer make use of vitamin B 12 , resulting in a decreased production of red blood cells (see anemia entry).
  • Sjögren's (pronounced SHO-grenz) syndrome occurs when glands are damaged, increasing the loss of water by the body and causing excessive dryness.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (pronounced ANG-kuh-lozing spon-duh-LIE-tis) results in the destruction of joints and soft tissue in the spine.
  • Vasculitis is a group of disorders in which blood vessels are destroyed.
  • Type I diabetes mellitus (see diabetes mellitus entry) is caused when the islet cells of the pancreas are damaged, preventing the release of insulin to the body.

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