Autoimmune diseases affect millions of people every year and that number keeps growing. While there isn’t a consensus as to why autoimmune diseases are on the rise, chances are it’s due to several different factors, which may vary from person to person to cause the immune system to overreact.
Autoimmunity happens when the immune system mistakes the body for a pathogen and begins attacking healthy tissue. There are hundreds of different types of autoimmune diseases, and symptoms depend on which tissues are being attacked. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is when the immune system attacks healthy joints, which causes joint swelling and pain.
Another factor particular to autoimmune disease is that they affect women more often than men. It isn’t clear exactly why women are affected more than men when it comes to autoimmune disease.
When your body is attacking itself the immune system creates autoantibodies, which can sometimes be tested for. If you suspect you have an autoimmune disease, it’s a good idea to see a functional medicine doctor sooner rather than later because it can worsen over time.