Autoimmune Disease

I Have an Auto-What?

I was relieved to find out that my very baffling and disconcerting list of symptoms had a cause.  Before being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I spent a number of very unsettling months trying to figure out why I felt so bad; why at times I truly felt as if my body was failing.

For some reason, my immune system targeted my thyroid gland, hence my symptoms and hypothyroidism.

In my younger adult years, I never went to see a doctor unless I was very, very sick or unless I was in an accident that required medical attention.  However, when my undiagnosed Hashimoto’s symptoms had become so frighteningly bad, I decided to go see my primary physician.

I cancelled a flight and business trip due to feeling so bad.

Due to the short notice, I was unable to see my primary physician immediately because of scheduling availability.  However, another doctor in the same office was available, so I went to see her instead.

When I met with the doctor, I discussed my numerous and sometimes seemingly unrelated symptoms.  I kept expecting her to tell me I was nuts.  However, fortunately she was able to discern a suspicion through our conversation that led to lab work to try to uncover the culprit.

After talking with me, she proceeded to have me complete some rather thorough blood testing.  My results were positive for hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease.

Why is my Immune System Attacking my Body?

Autoimmune disease is very basically a situation where the immune system attacks our body’s healthy cells by mistake.

There are quite a few diseases that fall into the category of autoimmune disease.  A few of the more well known autoimmune diseases are listed below.

 

Thyroid disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Lupus
Celiac disease
Multiple sclerosis
Note about multiple sclerosis – see quote below from the Mayo Clinic website.


The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It’s considered an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord).

Quoted from the MayoClinic.org website – page quoted here.


What are Autoimmune Diseases

Video below from AARDATube

This is What Happens When You Have an Autoimmune Disease

Video below from Yahoo Lifestyle

My Hope

 

Before being diagnosed, I did not have an understanding of autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune disease seems to affect women more than men.  Perhaps this might explain my prior ignorance.  For example, women are much more likely than men to develop the autoimmune disease I have, Hashimoto’s disease, which often leads to hypothyroidism.


Women get autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men — 6.4 percent of women vs. 2.7 percent of men (1). Often the disease starts during a woman’s childbearing years (ages 14 to 44).

Healthline.com – link to page quoted here.


My hope is that there will be more public awareness of autoimmune disease and more information available to help understand and deal with theses diseases.

How Serious Is Autoimmune Disease?

Fortunately, I was lucky that I received a diagnosis very quickly.  I have read that some people have gone through longer periods of time without a proper diagnosis or even worse, a misdiagnosis based on elusive symptoms.

When you go see a doctor, a medical professional, reporting the very real symptoms you are experiencing and they tell you that there is nothing wrong, it feels devastating.  This is the frustration I have experienced with autoimmune disease.  Often, autoimmune symptoms can look like “something else” and may cause difficulty in obtaining a correct diagnosis.  You can read more about this here.

I will never know because he died in 2005, but I believe now that my father lived with an autoimmune disease for years, without a diagnosis and without treatment.

For anyone interested in looking at the possible severity and the sometimes elusiveness of autoimmune disease symptoms, I would recommend watching the movie, Brain On Fire – trailer for the movie is below.

Brain On Fire | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Video below from Netflix

Multiple autoimmune diseases
you are not alone
living with and coping with disease