Your immune system is to protect you against inflammation (infections). Infections are caused by bacteria or a virus, for example. In the case of autoimmune disease, the immune system does not work properly, causing the cells to attack not only harmful (outside) influences, but also your body's own healthy cells. This can cause damage to tissues. Which complaints someone with an autoimmune disease can get depends on the type of cells that are attacked by the immune system.
The immune system consists of many different types of cells throughout the body. Normally, these cells protect the body against harmful outside influences, such as infections. They also have a part to play in combating cancer cells, for instance. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system actively turns against the body.
Types of autoimmune diseases
Celiac disease (pronounced see-lee-ak) is a condition that affects the small intestine as a result of hypersensitivity to gluten. Two thirds of those who suffer Celiac disease are women.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, whereby our own immune system produces antibodies that stimulate thyroid cells, causing overactivity of the thyroid gland.
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to hearing loss, vertigo, nausea and tinnitus (ear ringing). The disease usually involves intermittent attacks.