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WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

All autoimmune diseases are caused by a betrayal of the immune system.

 

The immune system, which is supposed to protect us from invading microorganisms, instead targets normal proteins within our own bodies, treating these fundamental components of our cells with the exact same lethal force as it would a virus, bacteria, or parasite.

Antibodies are an essential part of the immune system that recognize specific proteins in foreign cells, like pathogens. By binding to them, they signal to immune cells that there is something to attack.

With autoimmune disease, the body accidentally creates antibodies that identify not only foreign proteins, but the body’s own proteins—these are called autoantibodies (antibodies that target “self”). The formation of antibodies to the body’s own tissues is the first crucial step in the development of autoimmune disease.

The signs and symptoms of autoimmune disease are present when the immune system’s attack of tissues impacts the regular functioning of the body. They can impact any organ or system of the body.

Autoimmune Disease Facts:

  • Autoimmune disease is estimated to affect more than 50 million Americans or 20% of the population (compared with 12 million with cancer and 25 million with heart disease)

  • Autoimmune disease affects more women than men, with 75% of patients being female

  • There are more than 100 confirmed autoimmune diseases, with many more diseases

    suspected to be autoimmune in nature

  • The prevalence of autoimmune disease is steadily increasing

  • Autoimmune disease is caused partly by genetics and runs in families

  • Having one autoimmune disease increases the chance of developing more autoimmune diseases

  • Diagnosing autoimmune disease is challenging, because early symptoms often present as vague signs that can be dismissed

  • Up to 45% of those with autoimmune disease are labeled as hypochondriacs in the earliest stages of illness

  • The average time it takes to get an autoimmune disease diagnosis is 4.6 years and 5 doctors

  • There is no medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disease

    in general

  • Conventional medicine offers no cure for autoimmune disease; treatment is based on symptom management only

  • Treating autoimmune disease is estimated to cost over $100 billion dollars annually

  • Evidence, including medical trials, is accumulating for the inclusion of natural approaches to managing autoimmune disease, like dietary and lifestyle modifications

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