What is Autoimmune Syndrome?

John Lister

Autoimmune syndrome refers to a range of diseases. They are characterized by the body's immune system mistakenly attacking the body. Overall, women are more likely to suffer from an autoimmune disease

Autoimmunity is known to worsen rheumatoid arthritis effects.
Autoimmunity is known to worsen rheumatoid arthritis effects.

The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is still being debated by scientists. The most common theory is that it somehow involves the body losing its ability to distinguish between its own components and pathogens. These are things such as diseases and bacteria which attack the body.

Symptoms of lupus may include joint pain.
Symptoms of lupus may include joint pain.

There are many diseases which are can be classified as an autoimmune syndrome. Perhaps the best known is multiple sclerosis, which attacks communication between the brain and the spinal cord. Celiac disease, in which a reaction to a protein found in wheat leads to problems with the small intestine, is also an autoimmune disease. Another is Lupus erythematosus, often known simply as lupus, which causes the immune system to attack tissues and organs.

There are other diseases which are related to autoimmune syndrome. For example, the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not known for certain. However, autoimmunity is known to make the effects worse and more persistent. It's also been argued that type 2 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

Some diseases have similar symptoms to many autoimmune diseases, but are not autoimmune diseases themselves. These include chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Though they both involve muscle pain and fatigue, they are not believed to be caused by the immune system attacking itself.

Overall, around 75% of people who suffer from an autoimmune disease are women. The cause of this imbalance isn't entirely understood, though it appears to be genetic. There is also a theory that the imbalance is heightened by mothers-to-be exchanging cells with their child during pregnancy. There are some autoimmune diseases which affect men and women relatively equally.

In most cases, an autoimmune disease cannot be treated in itself. Instead medical treatment attempts to help reduce the symptoms of the disease. This can range from over-the-counter medicines for minor symptoms to prescription drugs for more serious symptoms. In some cases, medicines can slow down the progress of a disease. There are also some autoimmune diseases where problems can be avoided, for example Celiac disease sufferers not eating wheat.

It's important to note that autoimmune syndrome should not be confused with Aids. This stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The condition does not attack the body by itself. Instead it leaves the body much more susceptible to other infections and tumors.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune syndrome, harms the small intestine if an individual consumes products containing wheat.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune syndrome, harms the small intestine if an individual consumes products containing wheat.

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Discussion Comments


I just wanted to say that a family friend of my husband’s has lupus. Lupus is a disease that makes you really tired all of the time. It is also supposed to cause pain in the joints when there are flare ups. It is really hard to diagnose lupus because it mirrors so many other conditions.

For example, fibromyalgia is very similar to lupus and often about one third of the people that have lupus also develop this condition. My husband’s friend also has fibromyalgia and it also attacks the muscles and causes fatigue and pain, but unlike lupus it does not disrupt the organs or create any form of inflammation.


I know I must be a little dense, but I used to think that the only auto immune disorder was AIDS. Imagine my surprise when I found out otherwise, and my embarrassment.

You know what I discovered though? There are many other people out in this big old world who also think that AIDS is the one and only auto immune disease. And when they hear that someone has an auto immune disease, they run for the door as hard and fast as they can.

Now, I personally am actually fairly well versed in how HIV and AIDS are spread, and I don’t have any problem whatsoever being around people who have it. Actually, I’ve lived the latter half of my life in a theatre community and, unfortunately, to have contact with many people suffering with AIDS is pretty common with the lifestyle.

But you would be surprised at the people who (like I was) are misinformed and are terrified to even be in the same room or touch someone with it.

It is very sad; very, very sad indeed.


People who develop or get an auto immune disease are really quite sad to watch over time. My aunt had one, and she went from a hardworking woman who was really pretty active to an almost invalid over a matter of years.

She developed Hepatitis (the kind that is hereditary), and also ended up contracting several other ailments such as Mersa. Over time, they eventually just ate away at her body, I suppose you could say.

She ended up going into a coma and staying that way for almost a month, and eventually died. Speculation is that it wasn’t any specific disease that killed her, but a combination of them all on a body that simply no longer had the ability to ward them off.


@Azuza - Allergies are indeed caused by an immune response in the body. I'm an allergy sufferer myself and it isn't pleasant! Interestingly enough I actually don't know that many other women that have allergies but I do know a man with an autoimmune fatigue syndrome. I guess you just never know.


It seems deeply unfair that autoimmune disorders affect more women than men. I'm not that surprised though. I think allergies are a kind of autoimmune condition and I know way more women than men with allergies.

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