Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Conditions Underlying Cause Anatomy

Autoimmune Disease Overview

What is an autoimmune disease?
A person with an autoimmune disease has an abnormal immune system, which normally fights infection. The abnormal immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissue in the body, causing inflammation and scarring of the tissue. An autoimmune disease may damage the skin, heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, blood vessels, and joints. More widely known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

What are the symptoms of an autoimmune disease?
Symptoms of an autoimmune disease depend on the tissue that is attacked by immune system. Common symptoms include rashes, joint pain, joint swelling, eye pain, eye redness, muscle aches, and weakness or fatigue.

How does the doctor treat an autoimmune disease?
Treatment for an autoimmune disease includes medications that suppress inflammation or the immune system. Options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, corticosteroids, and chemotherapeutic agents, such as methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, and hydroxychloroquine.

Continue to Autoimmune Disease Conditions

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Autoimmune Disease References
  1. Christy AL, Brown MA. The multitasking mast cell: positive and negative roles in the progression of autoimmunity. J Immunol. 2007 Sep 1;179(5):2673-9. [17709477]
  2. Levesque MC, St Clair EW. B cell-directed therapies for autoimmune disease and correlates of disease response and relapse. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Jan;121(1):13-21; quiz 22-3. [18206502]
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