Recently I shared about being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I got so many great emails and messages from others suffering. But I also learned that many people do not know what an autoimmune disease is…or how horrible it can make your life! I was the same way for many years. I knew I didn’t feel well, but thanks to a few doctors, I thought it was all in my head haha. But last fall, after suffering from fevers, stomach pain, exhaustion, and nausea for 6 weeks straight, the words “autoimmune disease” started getting thrown about.
I’m a googler (not sure if that is a word…but we will pretend!) so when those words were uttered, I began to research! I’m going to share a little about these horrible disease for anyone who is not familiar with with. If you have a friend or family member that is suffering, my best advice is to LEARN! Learning what they are going through allows you to better offer help. Nothing is worse than when people try and tell you to take something, or go to a doctor, or rest. Yes they mean well, but with autoimmune disease, we are different! So if you care about someone that is suffering, take a few minutes out of your day and research their condition. It will mean the world to them to know you took the time to try and understand what they might be going through.
The number one thing to know about autoimmune disease….there is NO cure and NO medicine. According to healthline.com….
“An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function.”
Treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms, but there is no way to stop them from happening. People with these conditions often suffer from periods where they feel ok, to what they call “flare ups” which is when they feel very bad and their symptoms and condition may worsen. Many people with autoimmune disease strive to find ways to prevent flare ups because once they are in one, it can take months to heal and recover! Flare ups can be caused by different things such as stress, a food allergy, not enough sleep, too much activity, a small cold, or something in your environment. For most suffering, a flare up is something they want to avoid at ALLLLLLLL costs as it is miserable!
There are over 150 symptoms that can go with autoimmune disease and they are no fun! They range from hair falling out to recurring fevers to body pains to extreme exhaustion and depression. Each different autoimmune disease has its own plentiful amount of symptoms. And they are miserable (I know i’ve repeated this a few times haha, because its true!).
There are over 80 different types of autoimmune disease. Some are easy to detect, others take years! 75% of the people with autoimmune disease are women and many are believed to be hereditary, but not all. And none of these conditions have a cure. They are something people are stuck dealing with the rest of their lives.
“Autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions with no cure. Treatment involves attempts to control the process of the disease and to decrease the symptoms, especially during flare-ups.”
Kinda depressing right?!?! It is!!! Especially if you are in the middle of a flare up, which I have been for 2 weeks now. It makes everything harder, especially when you have no clue what caused it. But the good news is, you can do things to “hopefully” prevent flare ups! Eating a paleo diet is one of the best things you can do along with getting enough exercise. Making sure you take vitamins (and a GOOD type) is very important too! Decreasing stress as much as possible and getting plenty of rest can help too. And above all, avoid anything that might trigger a flare up!
Remember to be an advocate for your health! If something is stressing you out, ask for help!! If you are tried and need to rest, say so! If you have too much on your plate, cut things out! Your health is important, and you have to fight for yourself. And ASK those close to you to learn about your condition and what you are going through. It’s hard for them to understand, but if they take the time to learn, it can help!!!!
More information on Autoimmune Disease