Autoimmune disease is a condition where the immune system is aggressively set up against its own organs and tissues, while in the blood there are special protein compounds – autoantibodies, which, like a targeted bombardment, selectively attack only certain structures of our tissues, causing damage to them with subsequent dysfunction. Typical autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis), rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and ANCA-associated vasculitis. In total, there are more than 80 autoimmune diseases in the world.
Along with classic autoimmune diseases, there are immuno-mediated chronic inflammatory diseases, when the immune system plays a leading role in the development of the disease, but we can not detect autoantibodies.
For example, this situation can be observed in Takayasu arteritis or psoriasis. Although in recent years, even in psoriasis, some experts have discussed the presence of an autoimmune component. In this book, we will try not to go too deep into the scientific wilds and discuss both groups of such similar diseases.
A little apart from autoimmune diseases are allergic and auto-inflammatory diseases. Allergy is an increased sensitivity of the body to certain external substances (allergens); this can be food, dandruff or saliva of animals, medicines, pollen of plants. The main thing is that the source of the problem (the allergen) is initially located outside the body and problems arise only when the allergen and the person come into contact. And in autoimmune diseases, as we wrote earlier, our own tissues inside our body act as a target (antigen) for autoantibodies.
Auto-inflammatory diseases are a large group of diseases that are united by a genetic breakdown in the system of controlling inflammation in our body, as a result of which periodically (with a fairly clear pattern) there are attacks of fever, inflammation of the joints, skin, mucous membranes, etc. These diseases are more common in children and adolescents, much less common in adults. We will discuss this rare problem when we discuss the causes of unclear inflammation and / or fever.