And these are just a few. Autoimmune conditions are especially scary because the immune system goes rogue for no apparent reason. These are favorite conditions of medical television and movies, such as House, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Big Sick.

What triggers autoimmune diseases?

The most common explanation is that an affected person’s immune system, partly due to the genes they inherited, is primed to react abnormally to some trigger, such as an infection, an environmental exposure (like cigarette smoke), or some other factor. For most autoimmune diseases, we can’t easily figure out what triggers them. If we could, we might be able to prevent them.

Are there known triggers for multiple sclerosis disease?

Experts suspect a number of potential triggers or risk factors for multiple sclerosis disease. For example, some believe that it’s due to a chronic infection (although it’s unclear exactly which infection). Others believe that it’s primarily a genetic neurological disease. These theories challenge the idea that multiple sclerosis disease is truly an autoimmune disease.Some studies suggest that head injuries might be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis disease. If true, it raises important questions about how multiple sclerosis disease develops and how it might be prevented. On the other hand, it’s not an easy thing to study because researchers would never intentionally cause head injuries to see if they cause multiple sclerosis disease. Another way to study this question is to enroll people who already have MS, look back at whether they had concussions, and then compare them with similar people who don’t have MS.

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