In light of March being autoimmune disease awareness month, I thought I would take this time to talk about what an autoimmune disease is, what it isn’t, and how IBD is classified as an autoimmune disease.
So, first things first… autoimmune diseases! Who is affected? What are they? According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA), 50 million people in America have an autoimmune disease. There are about 80-100 different confirmed autoimmune diseases and about 40 diseases that are suspected to be autoimmune related. Reportedly, 75% of those with an autoimmune disease are women. Both Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are on the confirmed autoimmune disease list.
So what causes autoimmune diseases? We do not fully know what causes or triggers autoimmune disease, but most all experts agree that it is genetic. In other words, you cannot “catch” autoimmune diseases, but you can inherit them. In the case of IBD, the immune system in your gut that normally attacks viruses, infections or other harmful bacteria, goes renegade and begins attacking the intestines. This attack causes damaging inflammation in the mucosal lining of your colon in ulcerative colitis, and attacks the lining and sub-mucosa in Crohn’s Disease.
During the month of March, I would like to encourage all you lovely ladies out there to talk about your diseases. Talk to your friends and colleagues about what life with an autoimmune disease is like. Encourage them to ask open and honest questions! Feel free to share this post or use the photos as your profile pictures during March. The more we talk about these diseases, the better we’ll be able to raise awareness and thereby find better treatments and one day, a cure.
Roddick, Julie, and Steven Kim, MD. “Autoimmune Disease.” Healthline. Healthline, 22 July 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
“Autoimmune Disease in Women – AARDA.” AARDA. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
Molly. “March Is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month – Women’s Health Foundation.” Womens Health Foundation March Is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month Comments. Womenshealthfoundation.org, 18 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
Mandal, Dr. Ananya, MD. “What Is Ulcerative Colitis?” News-Medical.net. News Medical, 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.