Finding out that you have an autoimmune disease can be a life-changing diagnosis. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system, which is the body’s defense mechanism, becomes confused and identifies healthy cells as foreign. This causes it to attack the healthy cells, triggering flare-ups of the condition. Most autoimmune diseases fluctuate between these flares and periods in which the disease is in remission. There are many types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Researchers have yet to find an exact trigger for most of these conditions because it varies wildly between patients. However, they have identified some of the most common suspected triggers of autoimmune diseases.
Viral infections are one of the most common triggers of autoimmune diseases. When your body becomes infected with a virus, the immune system springs into action, attacking the foreign bodies that carry the virus. In a person who develops an autoimmune disease, the immune system continues to attack healthy cells even after the virus is gone. Researchers suspect that these cells resemble the virus in some way, which confuses the immune system and triggers a flare-up of the autoimmune disease. The best way to prevent this is by taking proper precautions to stay healthy, like washing your hands.