Autoimmune diseases are a broad range of more than 80 related disorders that include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) and vasculitis disorders (inflammation of blood vessels). They are thought to be inherited in many cases, but factors such as infections and some drugs (medications) may also play a role in triggering autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases are usually diagnosed using a combination of clinical history, blood tests and other investigations such as x-rays and a biopsy. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's own cells, tissues and organs, resulting in inflammation and damage, so treatments aim to relieve symptoms, minimise organ and tissue damage and preserve organ function.
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Webpage updated February 2024