What are Autoimmune Diseases?
An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune disorders.
White blood cells normally protect the body by targeting proteins called antigens on viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system has difficulty distinguishing between foreign antigens and healthy tissue. As a result, the body sets off a reaction that destroys normal tissues. These tissues can included the joints, nerves, tear ducts, the gut lining and virtually any other tissue of the body.
Common autoimmune disorders include: Celiac disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Pernicious Anemia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, Graves’ disease, Sjogren's syndrome, and Addison’s disease. The NIH estimates that up to 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease.
In a 2015 survey of over 7500 people with autoimmune disease, the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) reported the following :
- 98% of people with an autoimmune disease report they suffer from fatigue
- 89% report fatigue is a major issue for them
- 68% report their fatigue prevents them from doing simple everyday tasks
- 59% report fatigue is the most debilitating symptom of their disease
- 37% reported that they are in financial distress because of their fatigue
How are Autoimmune Diseases Linked to Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
Virtually all autoimmune disorders have increased inflammation as a common thread. Whether it’s the inflammation of your joints (in rheumatoid arthritis) or damage to your kidney and brain tissue (in serum lupus erythematous), when the immune system is attacking a part of your body, an abnormal level of inflammation is involved.