Before I dive into autoimmune disease. Let’s look at some of the statistics.
The Autoimmune Registry (autoimmuneregistry.org) estimated the prevalence for autoimmune disease. The first record of attempting to determine how many people were afflicted with autoimmune was in 1997. At that time it was estimated at about 9 million. In 2012, it was estimated at about 14.7 million.
There are other numbers that you can find out there. The National Institute of Health estimated between 14.7 and 23.5 million. The 23.5 million came from estimates by a Dr. Noel Rose.
The American Autoimmune Disease Related Association (AARD) has estimated 50 million and considers the remaining 120 illnesses that could be considered autoimmune.
If you are interested in reading this article, you can find it at the following URL. http://www.autoimmuneregistry.org/autoimmune-statistics/
The reality is that it is difficult to estimate how widespread autoimmune disease is because they can be difficult to diagnose. Based on the fact that it took about 15 years to get my own diagnosis, I’m pretty sure that there are a lot more people not included in the estimate that are in similar shoes.
So, what is autoimmune?
MedicineNet.com defines autoimmune at the following:
Autoimmune disease: An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to “seek and destroy” invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues.
Simply stated, the immune system in the body is activated and begins attacking the bodies own tissues.
How does this happen?
It’s complicated but to have autoimmune, you have to have 3 things.
- Genetic propensity
- Leaky gut
We have talked extensively about leaky gut. If you want to read more about it, you can find it in my blog here. http://donnag25.sg-host.com/leaky-gut-what-is-it-is-it-bad-for-me/
When it comes to triggers, and determining what your triggers might be, it can be like peeling an onion.
You may only have one trigger, but you can also have several.
Examples of triggers are:
Gluten Sensitivity/Cross Reactive proteins
Heavy Metal toxins
Your triggers must be determined and fixed before you can heal from your disease.
Oh, did I say heal?
If you are struggling with autoimmune, you can make improvements to the way you live with your disease. It is possible to put it into remission, but you have to figure out what your triggers are first.
Genetics are what determines the type of autoimmune that you experience.
Here is a secret. Just because you have a genetic propensity toward something, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically get the illness. You have to trigger the genetics to trigger the illness.
Hashimoto Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease.
It is the most prevalent and 80% of the people that get Hashimoto’s are women.
Hashimoto’s is obviously an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. The immune system has been activated, your genetics have been triggered and your own immune system is attacking your thyroid. The thyroid isn’t actually the culprit in the disease. As I said, there have to be triggers, you have to have leaky gut, and then your genetics determine that your immune system will activate and attack your thyroid.
If you do have Hashimoto’s, your thyroid was likely operating just fine prior to the attack. But once it is attacked, it’s function becomes compromised and you start experiencing symptoms.
Some of the symptoms that you might experience are as follows.
- Mental fogginess and forgetfulness
- Feeling excessively cold
- Dry skin
- Fluid retention
- Non-specific aches and stiffness in muscles and joints
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- Weight gain
- Puffiness in the face
- Infertility difficulty getting pregnant)
- Thinning, brittle hair
- Hair loss
- Slow heart rate
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Decreased sweating (perspiration)
- Thick or brittle nails
- Decreased reflexes
- Swollen hands and feet
- Cold skin
As the disease progresses, the number and/or severity of the symptoms will increase.
These symptoms aren’t specific to Hashimoto’s, making diagnosis very difficult. And often, it is diagnosed and treated as hypothyroidism which is not the same.
I was experiencing many of these symptoms for probably 10 years, with many trips to the doctor. None of which, every resulted in a test of my thyroid. If you have Hashimoto’s, I’m sure many of you have been through a similar experience and it is no fun.
In the early stages of Hashimoto’s, it is likely that you will only experience a handful of the symptoms but as it progresses, so do the symptoms. Why, because as your body continues the attack on your thyroid, your hormones production and adrenal function are also affected.
The effects of malabsorption and malnutrition begin to take its toll. As I said, you have to have leaky gut to have autoimmune. This means your body is no longer absorbing food properly as your brushed border is very likely damaged. You have inflammation in your gut so the acids in your gut are low and adds to the difficulty with digestion of the foods.
Essentially, your cells are being starved and your body is struggling.
People with Hashimoto’s notoriously have difficulty absorbing iron and Vitamin D so as your gut breaks down, the absorption worsens, and your symptoms increase.
Eventually, if nothing is done to improve the gut dysfunction, support your thyroid, your adrenals, and nourish your body, the chances of developing another autoimmune disease increases dramatically.
As many as 50% of people with Hashimoto’s, also have Celiac disease. They do go hand in hand. And dairy is also a trigger in 50% of Hashi’s as well.
There are many traits that will be similar for people with Hashimoto’s but the root cause will not be the same.
I listed several of the triggers earlier in the blog. Some people are able to make huge improvements to their illness just by eliminating gluten. Others will have to peel an onion to get down to all of their triggers, or the culprits that are contributing to their illness.
The bottom line is, to feel better, to take your life back, you do have to determine what your triggers are and eliminate them!!! You have to eliminate them!!
I will be diving more into Hashimoto’s this month.
We will talk more about how you determine your root cause, things you can do on your own to improve the way you live with Hashimoto’s, and how Your Health Made Simple can help you.
I hope this has helped you understand a little bit more about the Autoimmune disease process and why so many people are experiencing them than ever before. It truly is an epidemic. And there aren’t enough people like me to help with what is currently happening, but we still have to try. The best way I know how is through education.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out through our email with any of your questions or concerns.
Have a great rest of your day.