Heart disease. Cancer. Diabetes. These are commonly understood health conditions. However, unless someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or knows someone who is, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what autoimmune disease is and how it develops.
I have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and know many people that have various autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. There is a lot of misunderstanding and I want to help clear up as much I can.
To break it down for you, here are my top eight things you should know about autoimmune disease:
- First off, what is autoimmune disease? Autoimmune disease is essentially when your immune system goes into high gear and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue instead of foreign invaders.
- Women are more likely to get autoimmune disease than men. It is estimated that over 12 million people in America are fighting cancer and that 25 million Americans suffer from heart disease. These diseases can run in families, but females are more susceptible.
- Once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to have a second autoimmune diagnosis within five years.
- It is a myth that side effects from autoimmune disease medications will not be noticeable. Oftentimes, the side effects from these medications are severe, harmful and disrupt everyday life.
- By improving your gut and digestive system health, it is possible to reduce or eliminate your autoimmune symptoms. Because much of your immune system is in your gut, bettering your digestive system can go a long way in offering relief.
- Reducing chronic, silent inflammation is imperative when you suffer from an autoimmune disease. Drugs such as corticosteroids are often prescribed to combat inflammation, but living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and doing things within your control to limit inflammation can be a significant supportive measure.
- Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease can be difficult. The symptoms of these diseases blend together and can, in many cases, mislead doctors to incorrect diagnoses. Autoimmune diseases affect everyone differently; meaning two people with the same disease can have very different symptoms.
- Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease does not mean you will have a “poor quality of life.” By taking the correct medications as prescribed by your doctor, adjusting your diet to combat your disease and changing small things in your lifestyle, it is quite possible that you could live a happy, normal life.
Do you have an autoimmune disease? Do you have any tips to share?