Autoimmune: Characterized by a dysfunction in the immune system, in which antibodies begin to fight healthy cells in the body itself, autoimmune diseases are still poorly understood and surrounded by many uncertainties.
In recent years, some autoimmune diseases have gained more visibility after artists and famous people openly talk about their conditions, as is the example of singer Selena Gomez, who is struggling with lupus; YouTuber Felipe Neto, who discovered he had Crohn’s Disease; and singer Sia, who suffers from Graves’ Disease.
What is an autoimmune disease?
To understand how an autoimmune disease works, it is necessary to know our immune system: it is responsible for recognizing foreign or dangerous substances and fighting them, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and even transplanted organs and tissues.
These substances are recognized through antigens, molecules that stimulate a response by the immune system, and are also present in the body’s own cells. When the system identifies the tissues themselves as foreign elements, it produces anomalous antibodies (autoantibodies) or cells that watch over and attack specific cells and tissues.
The reaction is called autoimmune and results in inflammation or tissue damage. Depending on the organ or tissue attacked by the system, it will be possible to determine which disease will develop, such as Crohn’s Disease that deals with the gastrointestinal tract, Diabetes, in which the reaction causes damage to the pancreas. There are also diseases such as lupus, in which healthy cells, in general, are attacked, causing inflammation that affects the kidneys, eyes, joints and skin.