As one with autoimmune conditions, this post topic is an important to me. My top fatigue is “just need to sit”. You can ask my family how many times I say, “I just need to sit.” My mind is still running at top speed, but my body is done for a while. So, I have things I can do while sitting next to my sofa, ready to go so I can feel like I’m still being productive. I simply plan around my limitations; instead of fighting against them and it makes a huge difference.
Guest Post By Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories
With over 100 autoimmune diseases identified and about 50 million Americans currently suffering from at least one of them according to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, it’s likely that we all know at least one person leading a life complicated by an autoimmune condition. While autoimmune disease and all its variations can be complex to understand, there are many commonalities among them—and your friends and family who are currently living a life complicated by autoimmune issues would love for you to understand what they are dealing with. They want you to know so you have a sense of what they’re facing, how they handle it, why they feel the way they do and how they approach their health. Not only will this allow you to be an invaluable part of their support system, but you just might be able to help keep them healthy.
Here are six important facts about autoimmune disease that every sufferer wants their friends and family to understand:
Autoimmune disease is not just a women’s health issue
Although women account for almost 80 percent of the population diagnosed with autoimmune disease, men can fall victim, too. Even if just 20 percent of those suffering from autoimmune disease are men, that would still mean 10 million plus American men suffer from autoimmune disease – hardly a figure to simply brush off.
Sometimes they just need to rest
Fatigue is a common symptom of autoimmune disease. Sometimes they just don’t feel well and need some time to reboot. It can be frustrating for loved ones to have their plans broken or altered due to the fatigue an autoimmune disease sufferer feels. Unfortunately, recurring bouts of fatigue are par for the course for millions of those dealing with an autoimmune disease. The extreme lack of energy can impact everything from the ability to carry out household chores, to weekend dates, to vacation plans. People battling autoimmunity feel it’s important for supporters to understand that fatigue is a very real symptom, one that can strike at any time.
Management is key
Sadly, there is no cure for autoimmune disease. However, symptoms can be minimized through proactive management, once the disorder is properly identified. Functional medicine, which offers invaluable methods for diagnosing and treating autoimmune disease, focuses on causes in addition to symptoms. This system is based on an understanding of the dynamic way our genes interact with environment, and goes beyond simply treating diseases based on their label. Prioritizing sleep, getting regular exercise, and managing nutrition and stress are all a part of proactive functional medicine.
One autoimmune disease often translates to more
About 25 percent of patients with one autoimmune disease are likely to develop additional autoimmune diseases. This is because an immune system that begins attacking its own cells in the first place is a confused system, likely to continue the pattern in different areas of the body when falsely recognizing healthy cells as harmful. This makes management all the more important, as it becomes a preventative measure in addition to a proactive treatment. The lifestyle vigilance that people with autoimmunity need to maintain to manage their disease can sometimes be seen as overkill or be difficult for others to comprehend, but it is important to understand what is at risk for any individual with an autoimmune disease.
Diet and nutrition matter
Food, additives and even preparation are proven to affect autoimmune response. There are a few key aggravators known to cause inflammation and symptomatic flare-ups for those with autoimmune disease. Gluten, sugar, dairy, mold, mercury and antibiotics are among the many immune irritants to trigger autoimmune response. However, they do not stand alone. Individuals are unique in their genetic makeup; those suffering from an autoimmune condition have varied sensitivities and reactions to different foods, chemicals and environmental elements, which can also impact autoimmune response. Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity, offers advanced, innovative tests designed to detect and monitor autoimmune reactivities and their possible triggers. People suffering from autoimmunity often get evaluated with comprehensive tests like the Array 10 – Multiple Food Immune Reactivity Screen™ which evaluates immune reactions to foods, raw, cooked and modified, food enzymes, lectins and artificial food additives.
They must protect their children
As you now understand, autoimmune disease can be genetic or developed. Children of sufferers are genetically at risk for developing autoimmune disease in any form, regardless of the specific disease that their parent may have. Likewise, they are at risk for developing an autoimmune disease from environmental, lifestyle and food-related factors regardless of their parents’ history. Parents with autoimmune disease can sometimes seem over-protective with their children as they strive to head off the autoimmunity that they suffer from.
A significant element of leading a healthy life for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders is found in the support they receive from friends and family. As with any disease or illness, compassion goes a long way. Knowledge is everyone’s best tool.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or are considering any recommendations, please consult your health practitioner.