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What is a list of autoimmune diseases?

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Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and type I diabetes are all believed to be autoimmune diseases, according to WebMD. Other autoimmune diseases include Crohn's disease, Dressler's syndrome, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and Graves' disease, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.

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Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the white blood cells attack the body's own cells, explains WebMD. In a healthy person, the white blood cells attack invading pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. It is the action of white blood cells and the substances they produce that cause symptoms such as redness and swelling around wounds. In a patient with an autoimmune disease, the white blood cells attack the body's own healthy cells, leading to similar symptoms of swelling and pain.

Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, affect many organs, explains WebMD. Others, such as type I diabetes, affect only certain tissues, such as the insulin-secreting tissues on the pancreas. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the tissues in a patient's joints.

Autoimmune diseases tend to run in families, and it's important for those with family histories of these conditions to be on the lookout for symptoms since early treatment tends to be more effective, states WebMD. Evidence suggests that exposure to certain viruses or bacteria, smoking, and taking certain drugs may trigger the development of autoimmune disease symptoms in patients who are genetically predisposed.

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