Autoimmune diseases

How is treatment for myasthenia gravis evolving?

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a rare neuromuscular disease that impairs the transmission of nerve signals to muscles, causing temporary weakness of affected muscles. While treatment is complex, recently updated guidelines have added to the understanding of MG and are improving approaches to treatment.

Does lupus or arthritis affect your prognosis if you get COVID-19?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

People with certain chronic conditions are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. These include a compromised immune system, which can happen for a number of reasons. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus take drugs that suppress the immune system, and new research examined the risks associated with such a situation.

Illness-related fatigue: More than just feeling tired

It’s normal to feel tired, especially during the pandemic, and most people are able to push through the feeling and deal with their daily tasks. But fatigue that is caused by a specific illness is different, and it’s important to recognize these differences so you can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Be vigilant about bug spray

Steve Calechman


It’s likely people are trying to spend more time outside this summer, whether to avoid indoor situations where COVID-19 may spread or just for enjoyment. But the threat from illnesses spread by ticks and mosquitoes hasn’t changed, so knowing basic information about insect repellent, and using it the right way, will help people protect themselves.

Autoimmune lung disease: Early recognition and treatment helps

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body generates an immune response against itself. Some people with rheumatic or autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, develop an autoimmune lung disease. Marked by lung inflammation and possible scarring, it’s easier to treat if detected early.

Can celiac disease affect life expectancy?

Previously thought to affect mainly children, celiac disease is now understood to be a systemic disorder that can develop at any age. A recent study found a small but significant risk of increased mortality in those with CD, but managing the condition through proper diet and medical care can mitigate the risk.

Vitiligo: More than skin deep

Approximately 1% of the population has vitiligo, a skin condition in which areas of skin lose their color. While topical treatments and light therapy help some, research with a class of medications not previously used for this condition has shown promising results.

Need to check your thyroid? Maybe not

People who think they have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) may expect or request a wide range of blood tests to confirm diagnosis. Yet a much simpler, less costly test can identify hypothyroidism in almost everyone.

Autoimmune disease and stress: Is there a link?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

An observational study found that people diagnosed with stress-related disorders were more likely to develop an autoimmune disease, but was unable to provide proof of a directly causal relationship.

Stem-cell transplant: A possible high-risk/high-reward treatment for scleroderma

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Scleroderma is a painful, potentially debilitating autoimmune disease without good treatments. A novel approach to treating severe scleroderma using stem-cell transplantation to “reboot” the immune system shows great promise but not without potentially serious side effects.