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What Is an Autoimmune Disease?

A Group of 80 or More Diseases With a Misdirected Immune System


Updated May 30, 2014

Mature male patient sitting on exam table in discussion with doctor in exam room
Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

Definition: According to AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association), "the term autoimmune disease refers to a varied group of more than 80 serious, chronic illnesses that involve almost every human organ system. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is similar, the body's immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to protect."

Research of autoimmune diseases has not revealed the mechanisms that cause this response. According to A.D.A.M, one theory holds that various microorganisms and drugs somehow "trigger" the misdirected immune response, particularly in those with a genetic predisposition to an autoimmune disease.

It is possible to have more than one autoimmune disease. Many types of arthritis are considered autoimmune-related diseases, including:


Also Known As: autoimmune disorders

Common Misspellings: autoimune, autoimunne, auttoimune

Examples: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.


Autoimmune disorders. A.D.A.M.

Autoimmune Disease Patient Information. American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association


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