What happens in the body with an autoimmune disease?

The immune system should protect the body from external agressions, like viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. and internal threats like toxins and cancer cells.  It is a highly complex system involving various organs in the body.  For instance, white blood cells, the soldiers of the body,  are produced in the bone marrow, but they are also found in other organs like the spleen and lymphatic system.  Other organs also contribute to the body’s immune system, for instance, the thymus helps regulate these defense cells.  White blood cells travel through the blood stream looking for pathogens and destroying them.  It is very important in their correct functioning that they distinguish between pathogens and healthy cells of the body.

   A sick immune system doesn’t have this vital function of recognizing what is part of the body and what is not.  However, it is not the whole system, or all the time.  There are certain “trigger” factors in the body and the environment that cause a strong reaction in the system, in which it gets “confused” and starts attacking the body’s own organs.  It is not known why some immune systems of some people have this confused or wrong information.  The majority of autoimmune diseases have a preffered terget, one organ or place they will always attack, like arthritis will always attack the joints, Graves disease will always attack the thyroid, with asthma is the bronchi, with eczema the skin, etc.  Lupus is the most insidious and difficult of these diseases, for the immune confusion is complete and can attack any organ or system any time.  For this reason it is the most difficult to diagnose and control.