Lupus. Multiple sclerosis. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Sjogren’s syndrome. Rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune hepatitis. Celiac disease. Crohn’s disease. Juvenile-onset diabetes. Most people are surprised to learn that these are all examples of autoimmune diseases.
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Although these diseases are common and relevant, it is usually not until celebrities announce that they have been stricken with an autoimmune disease.
For example, Venus Williams recently told the world that she was sidelined by a diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome; last week, Nick Cannon revealed that he has been diagnosed with a “lupus-like” disease.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune disease is a constellation of diseases in which the body’s immune system begins to recognize normal cells (self) as foreign (non-self) and, as a consequence, attacks the cells. An immune/inflammatory response is triggered, and leads to destruction of the specific tissue. The destruction can be major or minor; and at times is life-threatening.