Autoimmune Diseases Target Women 3:1

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Autoimmune Diseases Target Women 3:1
17
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 12:26pm
From the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association:



Named a major women's health issue by the Office of Research on Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), autoimmunity is the underlying cause of more than 100 serious, chronic illnesses. It targets women 75 percent of the time.



The term "autoimmune disease" refers to a varied group of illnesses that involve almost every human organ system. It includes diseases of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems, as well as skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood and blood vessels. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is similar - the body's immune system becomes misdirected and attacks the very organs it was designed to protect. The fact that women have enhanced immune systems compared to men increases women's resistance to many types of infection, but also makes them more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.



Taken together, autoimmune diseases strike women three times more than men. Some diseases have an even higher incidence in women. In fact, of the 50 million Americans living with autoimmunity, 30 million people are women, some estimates say. Autoimmune diseases have been cited in the top ten leading causes of all deaths among U.S. women age 65 and younger. Moreover, these diseases represent the fourth largest cause of disability among women in the United States. Read more.



Also, womenshealth.gov has a helpful list of frequently asked questions, and a list of many accepted and suspected autoimmune diseases is available at Wikipedia.



A number of iVillage Health message boards are available to provide information and support for various autoimmune diseases. A good place to start is the "Chronic Health Conditions" category.




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



   



Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 1:10pm
“More than 40% of women eventually diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease have basically been told by a doctor that they��re just too concerned with their health or they’re a hypochondriac,” says Virginia Ladd, founder and executive director of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).



From Health.com, here are some tips on How to Get Your Doctor to Listen.



Related article: 7 Women’s Health Problems Doctors Miss




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



iVillage Member
Registered: 01-19-2006
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 2:47pm

I've suffered from an auto-immune disease, endometriosis, and really, my heart goes out to anyone, woman or man, who has to deal with the incomprehension that arises from dealing with an auto-immune disease, and trying to get it diagnosed and treated.

When will doctors stop and listen to their patients? It could very well be a problem with the way that the members of the medical profession are trained, and the deficiencies in their training, that leads to these problems.

Don't get me started, at least not tonight.

Having said that, I'll take my leave for the time being.





Photobucket


Basking in the wonder of spring...










iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 4:54pm
Endometriosis is a tough one to deal with, even after the diagnosis! If you'll pardon my asking, how long did it take to diagnose in your case, and did you find a satisfactory treatment or some way to alleviate the pain of it?



I should probably follow your example and not get started about doctors not listening to (or perhaps not believing) their patients — but I opened this can of worms so I'm going to go ahead and cast one, lol.



As I've said here before, I have hypothyroidism which went undiagnosed for many years. I had convinced myself — with the help of a couple of doctors — that what I was experiencing was normal. When I finally found a doctor who listened and believed me, it took her less than five minutes to begin to suspect an underactive thyroid and order the blood test to confirm it. I try not to dwell on "what-ifs," but I can't help but wonder sometimes how much damage was done during those years that could have been prevented. And hypothyroidism is relatively simple to diagnose; I can't even imagine the agony that people with trickier conditions go through.




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2007
Wed, 05-12-2010 - 8:49am

I have psoriasis, an auto-immune defiency that focuses on your skin. I don't have it too bad but it is noticable and very embarrassing.


I have it some behind my ears and in my scalp, though that is lessening.


The doctors have basically told me there isn't much to do about it, that it is genetic, and showed up after a traumatic event.


It does get worse with stress, and is now at the worst I have ever seen it. Not fun!


Powered by CGISpy.com

Powered by CGISpy.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Wed, 05-12-2010 - 9:55pm

Hi !


I'm cl-miladyknight from The Lupus Board.


cl-flowers

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-19-2006
Thu, 05-13-2010 - 10:10am
I don't mind you asking at all.

Between the first appearance of the disease and the diagnosis, there was a stretch of nine years. I kept going to doctors because of the incredible pain I was suffering with my periods, and while not one of them discounted my pain, none of them bothered to look into the cause of it. They all were willing to prescribe heavy duty pain killers, at least. I think the assumption was that pain during menstruation is normal. At least none of them had the backward idea to tell me I was imagining the pain!

By the time I was diagnosed, I knew about endometriosis and suspected I had it. My living situation had changed drastically, and I ended up with far better health care and insurance coverage than I had had previously. I was also fortunate that the doctors I was seeing preferred to treat the disease with hormonal medication before considering surgery.

I was prescribed a variety of different hormonal treatments over a period of... hmmm, how many years? Twelve? Fourteen? I honestly can't recall, but I know I have a record of it somewhere. Anyway, the gynecologist I've been with for the past eighteen years has been wonderful. I was always able to see him quickly. He started by prescribing the drugs that were marketed to deal with the disease, and paid a lot of attention to what I had to say about them. Some worked, some did not. There was one that worked well for the symptoms of the endometriosis, but it gave me terrible migraines. He knows his drugs, because he then prescribed a different hormonal treatment, which isn't usually used, but he did so because it had certain molecular similarities to the one that gave me headaches, but without that as a side effect. That one worked very well for a number of years. Then I became tolerant of it and it didn't work as well, so he stopped all treatment. The symptoms had eased sufficiently that I could manage without any treatment. I lived through menopause (somehow) and am free from all hormonal treatments and the pain of the endometriosis.

I have to add that being post-menopausal and free from the disease has left me in far better health over all. Hormone replacement therapy isn't even a consideration for me, and to be blunt, I'm glad. I've had enough of taking a delicate dose of drugs that sometimes works, sometimes does not.

Ask me anything else you want about it. If I can answer, I will.




Photobucket


Basking in the wonder of spring...










iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2003
Thu, 05-13-2010 - 3:14pm

Thanks so much for this opportunity.

Molly

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Fri, 05-14-2010 - 6:27pm
I'm sorry to hear your psoriasis is flaring up so badly right now, Bobbie! Not fun is an understatement!


It is interesting that it first appeared after a traumatic event. I've heard of other autoimmune conditions being triggered by emotional or physical trauma. I wonder why that is?




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Fri, 05-14-2010 - 6:33pm
Just one more question: Why is HRT not a consideration? Is that a blanket recommendation with endometriosis?


Okay, yes I know that's two questions, but I couldn't help myself – one led into the other, lol.




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2009
Fri, 05-14-2010 - 6:39pm
Thank you for telling us about lupus. Do researchers have any theories about why women of color are most at risk for it?




bunsofclay


Community Leader of Women's Health



Pages