Autoimmune diseases are common and may develop at any age. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease just a few examples of these conditions, although there are more than 80 which have been identified. Because these conditions are chronic, and thus lifelong, getting diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease can be overwhelming. Yet, there are steps you can take to remain in control of your health.
First and foremost, it’s important to educate yourself about your condition, its risks, and available treatment options. Asking questions and exploring therapies are among the most effective things you can do to maintain your wellness after being diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease. While partnering with specialists is an important aspect of disease management, you can also be your own advocate by performing research independently. As you do so, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Comorbidities are conditions that accompany other diseases. In autoimmune disease, an abnormal immune system response leads to an attack of healthy tissue. This attack can happen anywhere in the body, and in some diseases, more than one area will be affected. For example, in Crohn’s disease, the bowels are primarily targeted. Yet, in systemic lupus erythematosus, symptoms are experienced throughout the whole body.
The abnormal immune response in autoimmune conditions puts you more at risk for developing other conditions since the body’s immunity is already in overdrive. For example, people with Crohn’s disease are more likely to experience arthritis, liver disease, and colon cancer. By understanding the risks of potential comorbidities, you can take a proactive approach in watching for other conditions and treating them promptly should they develop.
Know Your Medication’s Side Effects
People with autoimmune diseases may only need medications briefly to encourage remission; or, they may need lifelong treatments to control symptoms. Every drug comes with potential risks and side effects, which should be considered carefully. Moreover, if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s especially important to go over risks with your doctor.
Many patients want to seek alternative methods to help manage or prevent oncoming symptoms. Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is an emerging option many have researched and considered for this purpose.
Find The Right Level of Monitoring
Some autoimmune disorders call for close monitoring. This might include reporting symptoms, going for imaging tests, and having blood work done. Following your diagnosis, speak with your specialist to determine how often you should have routine monitoring performed, and what parameters to look for to consider a treatment successful.
You might also consider having a comprehensive test done to find out what insufficiencies and deficiencies you may have that may be causing symptoms. These tests get to the root of the issue to support better overall health and a strong immune system.
The more informed you are about your condition, the better you’ll be able to make the decisions that are best for your needs. Use organizations such as the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (aarda.org) to gather resources and support. Additionally, consider consulting with several specialists, such as functional medicine providers, such as Stemedix, who can help you explore treatments outside of conventional drugs.