Allergic To Myself

A place for the autoimmune afflicted

Exploring: Multiple Sclerosis

MS is another tricky autoimmune disease. This one definitely has connections to genetic and genders; I mean that women are more likely to get it and that if you have a family history of MS or other autoimmune disorders then you are far more likely to get it. What happens in MS is that the myelin sheaths around the nerve cells in the body are attacked by the immune system and destroyed. This leads to paralysis and eventually death. Here is a paragraph about the symptoms, taken from wikipedia,
“A person with MS can suffer almost any neurological symptom or sign, including changes in sensation such as loss of sensitivity or tingling, pricking or numbness, muscle weakness, clonus,muscle spasms, or difficulty in moving; difficulties with coordination and balance; problems in speech or swallowing, visual problems, fatigue, acute or chronic pain, and bladder and bowel difficulties. Cognitive impairment of varying degrees and emotional symptoms of depression or unstable mood are also common.”
As you can see, these are some very scary symptoms. Slowely becoming paralyzed and losing control over your body or your mental functioning, I imagine, is quite traumatic and horrible. My heart goes out to those suffering from MS and I admire those who have it and maintain a positive attitude!
Do you know anyone with MS? Do you know of any treatments?

The girl in the Youtube video below has MS, and she still has a hilarious sense of humor, however cynical it might be! Love ya JPMetz!

Disclaimer: Some mild language! Do NOT watch if you are easily offended. 

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease | 18 Comments

Exposing: Autoimmune Statistics

From reading the comments on this blog, I was surprised by how many people didn’t know what an autoimmune disease is or how prevalent they are. So I decided to go and get this fact sheet from AARDA.ORG. Take a look!

Autoimmune Statistics
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE FACT SHEET

Autoimmune Disease…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.
• 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.

Hopefully this opened up your eyes on exactly the kind of problem Autoimmune diseases are and what they may become. They are becoming more common in our society along with obesity and many other problems. Could all of these things be related some how? What are your thoughts?

November 28, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease | 11 Comments

Exploring: Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitisis the sister disease to Crohn’s Disease. The main difference between the two is that Crohn’s makes ulcers in the small intestine, while colitis attacks and creates ulcers in the large intestines/colon. Less than 1% of the population is effected by Ulcerative Colitis, but like all other autoimmune diseases it can be crippling and even fatal. This paragraph from wikepedia accurately explains some of the symptoms of Colitis. “The clinical presentation of ulcerative colitis depends on the extent of the disease process. Patients usually present with diarrhea mixed with blood and mucus, of gradual onset. They also may have signs of weight loss, and blood on rectal examination. The disease is usually accompanied with different degrees of abdominal pain, from mild discomfort to severely painful cramps.
Ulcerative colitis is associated with a general inflammatory process that affects many parts of the body. Sometimes these associated extra-intestinal symptoms are the initial signs of the disease, such as painful, arthritic knees in a teenager. The presence of the disease cannot be confirmed, however, until the onset of intestinal manifestations.”
I feel like it is very interesting that symptoms and/or autoimmune diseases almost always come in pairs. I have Crohn’s Disease but I also expect that i have Rheumatoid Arthritis because my joints, especially in my hands, ache. Fortunately for me the treatments they use to treat Crohn’s also treat RA.
Ulcerative Colitis comes and goes in stages( has states of remission), where the person will feel fine for a while until something happens that triggers a flare up which could last months or years. Usually drug treatment is required for the person to stay in remission.
Do you know anyone with Ulcerative Colitis? How do they cope with it?

I apologize for the image below, it is a pretty graphic picture of what the colon looks like with Ulcerative Colitis.

November 27, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease | 7 Comments

Exploring: Lupus

If you thought the other diseases we have covered are crazy and mysterious, you haven’t explored Lupus yet. Lupus is one of the most mysterious and violent of the longterm autoimmune diseases I have discovered. I personally have two relatives with the condition and it has left them pretty severely damaged. This disease occurs more often in women than in men and can lay dormant for an indefinite amount of time until something triggers the immune system. These triggers can be genetic, environmental effects or drug reactions. In one of my family members lupus was triggered and they have lived with it for over 40 years, also having RA. In the other it was triggered with allergy testing and they almost died several times due to complications. “SLE is treatable through addressing its symptoms, mainly with cyclophosphamide, corticosteroids and immunosuppressants; there is currently no cure. SLE can be fatal, although with recent medical advances, fatalities are becoming increasingly rare. Survival for people with SLE in the United States, Canada, and Europe is approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years”- wikepedia. Lupus is not curable, but it is treatable. Like most autoimmune diseases, it can be managed with immuno-suppressants and corticosteroids which reduce inflammation. Lupus is not preventable because not much is known about how it is caused, but if it is found early enough, it can be managed quite effectively. This disease is rare compared to some others but still effects a rather large amount of people, and the probability of getting it increases if you have family members with the disease. It is estimated that up to 53 per 100,000 people has this disease. There is hope, my family members are still alive with this disease, and advances in technology are constantly improving the quality of life. In comparison, I feel lucky to have a disease that only effects one area of my body, because Lupus can effect ANY part of your body. I respect and admire anyone who lives with and has a positive outlook with Lupus, for it is, in my opinion, one of the hardest and most crippling of the autoimmune diseases.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease, Lupus, Stories | 23 Comments

Exploring: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that effects the joints in the body. It is caused by the immune system attacking joints in the wrist, fingers, knees and ankles. This leads to inflammation and joint pains and can have symptoms such as:

Additional symptoms include:

I have a family member with Rheumatoid and it can also be very debilitating, after years it can cause your hands and feet to become crooked mangled and the pain can be constant. Do you have any family members or friends with RA? If so, where does it attack them and how does it effect their daily lives? Have a great day ya’ll, next time i’ll be covering the mysterious Lupus.

October 20, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease, Stories | 20 Comments

Medication of the Week: Humira

I was asked last week if there is another alternative to Remicade because it is so expensive and the answer is yes, there are a couple other options. The medication I took before Remicade was a drug called Humira. Humira works similarly to Remicade but it is cheaper and can be done in the home through self-injections. Humira worked well for me, but I am very disturbed by needles, so giving myself the injections every 2 weeks quickly became quite the phobic ordeal. For me, I decided that one infusion/IV of Remicade every 6 weeks for 3 hours was preferable to the panic of 2 shots every 2 weeks of Humira. However, the side effects of both Humira and Remicade are different for everyone. A family member of mine currently takes Humira for Rheumatoid Arthritis(Which I will cover in my post next week), and while it helps with their RA, it really makes them tired to a great extent. I feel like it is a matter of preference, choosing between the two and not everyone is afraid by needles like I am. So now I have a question for you…

If you had to take one of these drugs, which would you take? Remicade: distributed intravenously once every 6-8 weeks for 3 hours or Humira: self-injected every 2 weeks?

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease, Crohn's Disease, Medicines | 9 Comments

Medication of the Week: Remicade

This week i thought I would share the medicine that has been a great blessing in my life, with ya’ll. The medication that has put me in remission for over a year is Remicade (infliximab). It is administered intravenously every 6-8 weeks, for me 6, and works by binding on and killing immune cells that cause inflammation and that attack the intestinal walls causing ulcers, in the case of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This drug would be ideal for many different kinds of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid, but one of the major problems is that it is VERY expensive. Remicade can cost a patient up to 22,000 a year without medical insurance. Also, Remicade severely lowers the immune response, making infections far more serious and threatening, you should NOT get Remicade before getting tested for tuberculosis. This website by the government explains Remicade in more detail. So far this drug works, although it knocks me on my but for the first couple of days following the infusion. The questions is if I didn’t have medical insurance, what would I do? Do the benefits from this drug outweigh the potential risks? All I know is that it has allowed me to live a mostly normal life, and for that I am grateful.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease, Crohn's Disease, Medicines | 14 Comments

Just Another Story…

Hello Everyone! My name is Eric and I am the creator of this blog. The purpose of this blog is for people with autoimmune diseases to share thoughts and stories with each other and the world. While every case is unique, there are very many similarities also and something that helps or hurts you might do the same for others. I feel that the sharing of information and experiences is vital to create a support system and understanding, please share your thoughts and stories. For now, this is my story…

I was just another teenager

I was just your average teenager, I lived in Houston for my whole high school career. I liked to “hang out”, sing, I was in a business program for my school, and I was very actively involved with my religion. Although I knew my family had a history of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid and lupus, I never thought I would personally have to experience anything like that. Little did I  know how my life would change. When I was a sophomore, I suddenly started having very painful intestinal pains. The symptoms were infrequent and went away after a couple of agonizing hours so I didn’t get help at first. I continued on with my life for another year while the aches became more and more frequent, finally I went to a gastroenterologist. After some intense testing, including a colonoscopy and a x-ray where I had to drink barium, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. This blew my teenage mind and i spend all of my senior year coming to terms with the change that was happening in my life, where before I seemed invincible.  Now I had this disease I had to deal with the rest of my life, because it is not curable. There was a lot of pain, sadness and self-pity for my entire senior year but finally I realized something. Having this disease really sucks, but I am lucky in soo many ways. I was young enough when they caught it that it hadn’t done too much damage and I had adequate insurance to help me with the costs, which was a huge blessing. I realize that many people have a harder time with this than me and I sympathize. Please email me your personal stories and experiences if you wish to share, my email is in the about me section. I am happy to say that my Crohn’s has been stable for the past 2 years. Please share your experiences and stories, add to this community. Thank you!

Eric

my Crohn's is in the ilium area of the small intestines

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Autoimmune Disease, Crohn's Disease, Stories | , | 32 Comments