What are autoimmune antibodies?

Autoimmune antibodies are groups of immune proteins that can be harmful to the human body, attacking tissues and organs and causing deterioration. Sometimes their presence can be a sign that problems are brewing in the body, because they can be harbingers of disease. These are also known as autoantibodies .

When the immune system gets confused, it cannot distinguish between 'self' and 'non-self' proteins. Autoantibodies often attack the wrong targets, such as healthy organs, and this confusion often harms the body. In most healthy people, the immune system can determine what is friend or foe, but when it cannot, autoimmune diseases and hyperactive responses to stimuli such as food, allergens can occur.

People with chronic autoimmune diseases such as Graves' disease often have a single immune system target organ. Blood tests and other diagnostic methods can help isolate what's going on in the body. Treatment for autoimmune disorders can include steroids, allergy shots, and homeopathic therapies.

There is still some element of mystery regarding autoantibodies and why they attack the body. Some doctors and scientists believe that there is a strong genetic component to the production of harmful autoimmune antibodies. There are also those who feel that environmental factors such as chemicals and pollution play a role in their development. Research is ongoing and there are still questions about these antibodies and why they occur.

In some cases, women are more likely to develop autoimmune antibodies. There is possibly a link between hormones and autoimmune difficulties. Women between the ages of 18 and 40 are more likely to develop problems with the function of the autoimmune system, and some scientists believe that certain hormones can trigger the production of harmful antibodies.

Finding out whether a localized or systemic problem related to autoimmune antibodies is occurring in the body may require blood tests and tissue or organ tests. X-rays can also help find problems. Symptoms that indicate antibody production can be generalized, so it can be difficult to diagnose problems based solely on how the patient feels. Many people undergo a variety of tests and visit many doctors before finding reasons for their symptoms.

Some well-known diseases caused by autoimmune antibodies include celiac disease, Hashimoto's disease, and thyroid problems. There may be a higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in certain families, although each affected family member may suffer from a different type of disorder. It is situations like this that lead researchers to think that there is a genetic component to problems with autoimmune antibodies.

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