The word “auto” has Greek origins and means “self”. Autoimmune illnesses refer to any disease that causes the body to produce antibodies that in essence, attacks itself. Antibodies are supposed to be the body’s way of protecting against foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses. However, sometimes normal tissues can be mistaken for an invader and the body can be attacked by its own antibodies. When this occurs, the antibodies are called autoantibodies.

One common autoimmune disease is lupus, which affects an estimated 1.5 million people. The autoantibodies that are produced in lupus can affect many different organs such as the kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and even the peripheral nerves. About 10% of people with lupus will develop peripheral neuropathy. The result can be weakness, tingling, burning, or loss of sensation in the hands and feet.

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