Hypersensitivities and Autoimmune Diseases: What’s the Difference?

Hypersensitivities Are Real


Continuing from The Big Picture, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs when the immune system perceives something entering your body as foreign matter and attacks it, also hurting your body. An autoimmune disease is a hypersensitivity reaction plus.

Think of an autoimmune disease as having one or more hypersensitivity reactions as a component/components.

Comparison Chart

Hypersensitivity Reaction
Autoimmune Disease

Just one event.
An ongoing problem.
You are not sick. Irritated, but not sick.
You are sick.
Either easy or impossible to diagnose.
Difficult to diagnose.
Clear triggers, e.g., pollen, wool, or other environmental substances
What triggered this immune flare-up? Stress? Smoking? Doctors are unsure.
No cure. Sometimes can be systematically desensitized (nipped in the bud) .
No cure. Cannot be systematically desensitized.


Both have the same cause: heredity

That is, you have inherited your immune system, and your immune-system overreaction to foreign substances is at the root of your hypersensitivities.

Neither can be cured.

Both may respond to palliative treatment. Or not.

Both affect women more often than men.

Both affect old people more often than young people.

In the next Hypersensitivities Are Real post, my pot-smoking, map-making, gourmet cook friend, Michelle Lewis, will give you a harrowing and very graphic description of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Michelle and I are both Hypersensitives, but I have Type I allergies and hypersensitivities, and Michelle has RA, a cruel Type III autoimmune hypersensitivity disease.

Dr. Jean M. Bradt
Ph.D., Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago, 1988

Contact Dr. Bradt

Hypersensitivities Are Real