Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that affect a wide range of body parts.
The most common autoimmune diseases in women are:
• Rheumatoid arthritis, a form of arthritis that attacks the joints
• Psoriasis, a condition marked by thick, scaly patches of skin
• Psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis affecting some people with psoriasis
• Lupus, a disease that damages areas of the body that include joints, skin and organs
• Thyroid diseases, including Graves’ disease, where the body makes too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where it doesn’t make enough (hypothyroidism) of the hormone
Symptoms of autoimmune disease may be severe in some people and mild in others.