Your body's immune system protects you from disease and
infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your
immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.
Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body. These
diseases tend to run in families. Women - particularly
African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American
women - have a higher risk for some autoimmune diseases.
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and
some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your
health care provider to know if you really have one of these
diseases, and if so, which one. Getting diagnosed can be
frustrating and stressful. In many people, the first
symptoms are being tired, muscle aches and low fever.
The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get
worse, and remissions, when they all but disappear. The
diseases do not usually go away, but symptoms can be