I have made it my personal mission this year to do all I can to release the world from the sad and very inaccurate belief that if they have met ONE person with an autoimmune illness, then they know them ALL!
You don’t! You won’t! You never will!
It’s as ridiculous as saying “I once met a blue eyed man and they are ALL the same.”
Whilst you may have met someone with Crohns, or Addissons diseases, or MS, or (insert illness)…. you will have NO idea what their level of illness, disability, pain, ability, attitude, care, support, treatment, progression, prognosis or personality is… NONE.
I have several diseases and I don’t know what my peers will look like!
There is an old saying amongst those who actually know how difficult these diseases are and it goes like this… “put 100 different Autoimmune sufferers in a room and you will have a room full of 100 different Autoimmune sufferers”.
It’s simple and it’s true.
Now, if only we can teach the world this simple truth.
We all like to put little labels on things. Neat little bows. It’s simple. It’s easy. But it is also dangerously inaccurate.
We don’t all respond the same. We don’t all suffer the same. We won’t all follow the same path or progression. We don’t all agree. We don’t all feel the same about our illness. We don’t all have the same abilities. We are as different as we are many. Many millions in fact!
It is estimated that if there is over 50 million known sufferers in the US alone. Then there are confidently 100s of millions world wide.
Autoimmune illnesses rank as the top 10 most serious illnesses to affect women and men in the world. However, sadly, it is more common to women and mostly 20 – 40 year olds.
Some illnesses are disabling, debilitating and life altering and ALL are currently incurable.
There are no ONE SIZE FITS ALL (OSFA) when it comes to these diseases and assuming that we are all the same only makes us feel like you haven’t done your homework and are ignorant to the facts.
So here are the facts…
…is a major health problem.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH estimates up to 23.5* million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising. We at AARDA say that 50 million* Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Why the difference? The NIH numbers only include 24 diseases for which good epidemiology studies were available.
Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis. These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening.
Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years of age.
A close genetic relationship exists among autoimmune disease, explaining clustering in individuals and families as well as a common pathway of disease.
Commonly used immunosuppressant treatments lead to devastating long-term side effects.
The Institute of Medicine reports that the US is behind other countries in research into immune system self recognition, the process involved in autoimmune disease.
Understanding how to modulate immune system activity will benefit transplant recipients, cancer patients, AIDS patients and infectious disease patients.
…faces critical obstacles in diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms cross many specialties and can affect all body organs.
Medical education provides minimal learning about autoimmune disease.
Specialists are generally unaware of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or advances in treatment outside their own specialty area.
Initial symptoms are often intermittent and unspecific until the disease becomes acute.
Research is generally disease-specific and limited in scope. More information-sharing and crossover among research projects on different autoimmune diseases is needed.
…offers surprising statistical comparisons with other disease groups.
NIH estimates up to 23.5 million Americans* have an AD. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million.
NIH estimates annual direct health care costs for AD to be in the range of $100 billion (source: NIH presentation by Dr. Fauci, NIAID). In comparison, cancers costs are $57 billion (source: NIH,ACS), and heart and stroke costs are $200 billion (source: NIH, AHA).
NIH research funding for AD in 2003 came to $591 million. In comparison, cancer funding came to $6.1 billion; and heart and stroke, to $2.4 billion (source: NIH).
The NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan states; “Research discoveries of the last decade have made autoimmune research one of the most promising areas of new discovery.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health, autoimmune disease and disorders ranked #1 in a top ten list of most popular health topics requested by callers to the National Women’s Health Information Center.
* We at AARDA say that 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Why the difference? The NIH numbers only include 24 diseases for which good epidemiology studies were available.
Sound like OSFA?!
Think again. Thank you.