March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, and according to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, it’s a staggeringly large community.
Amongst the most staggering facts:
- Today, approximately 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases constituting a major health crisis.
- There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases on record.
- Autoimmune disease cluster in families and individuals
- Less than 13% of Americans can name an autoimmune disease
Fifty million sufferers sounds like a huge number because it is. To put this in perspective, that’s bigger than cancer and heart disease combined.
Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases haven’t had the same research backing for as long. Each has its own unique, sub-category of societies and research supporters. This is why the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association is a promising start to get everything unified under one umbrella. A great example of this is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which right now is usually stuffed into a sub-category of the Arthritis Foundation. When people think of arthritis they will think of osteoarthritis which is commonly caused by age and overuse. As a result, even the medications we take are advertised as though it’s more of a nuisance disease as opposed to having the potential to be life-threatening like Lupus.
It has only really been in the past 10 years or so that I’ve even seen biologic commercials, and frankly didn’t think enough individuals suffered from R.A. to even be concerned about it until I came down with the disease myself.
Also, many people don’t understand the common hallmark of autoimmune disease, which is the body’s cells becoming overstimulated, confused, and instead of attacking invading pathogens mistakes various cells in the body for invaders and begins to attack itself.
So what can we do to help? If you suffer from an autoimmune disease talk about it. The dangers, yes, but also about bonding together to support research and help find a cure for autoimmune diseases.
Are you unclear about what diseases are autoimmune? Check out this list: https://www.aarda.org/diseaselist/
Also, start listening to your body. Eating better will help with all kinds of inflammation, help prevent cancer and heart disease, and will help if you have an autoimmune disease.
If we all work together, we might at least be able to slow the rapid progress of autoimmune disease until researchers can finally find a cure.