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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.
No one is sure what causes autoimmune diseases. They do 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 a diagnosis can be frustrating and stressful. Often, the first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches and a low fever. The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling.
The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions, when symptoms get better or disappear. Treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases one important goal is to reduce inflammation. Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune response.
Also called: Hypercoagulability
Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding stops and healing takes place, your body usually breaks down and removes the clot. But some people get too many clots or their blood clots abnormally. Many conditions can cause the blood to clot too much or prevent blood clots from dissolving properly.
Risk factors for excessive blood clotting include
Blood clots can form in, or travel to, the blood vessels in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and limbs. A clot in the veins deep in the limbs is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT usually affects the deep veins of the legs. If a blood clot in a deep vein breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs and blocks blood flow, it is called a pulmonary embolism. Other complications of blood clots include stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, kidney failure, and pregnancy-related problems. Treatments for blood clots include blood thinners and other medicines.