The Autoimmune Epidemic

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts recently. Especially the ones written by chronic illness sufferers. You guys are the best! It’s hard .. sharing how your lives are affected by your illnesses. All the down and dirty details and your methods for coping. It’s not a community anyone wants to join .. living in the land of the sick, but it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. In fact, our numbers are growing.

Cases of autoimmune disorders are skyrocketing. Researchers and scientists are confirming what is now being considered an autoimmune epidemic. In the US alone, MS affects 400,000 people. Lupus, one and a half million. Sjogren’s, four million. The NIH count stands at 24 million. The American Autoimmune Association believes this number is closer to 50 million. As the NIH only accounts for those with the most common 24 disorders. This, in the face of the 80 – 100 different diseases researchers have already identified.

Rates are up by nearly 50%!! Every 1 in 9 women are now affected. Men also, but in considerably lesser numbers. These are staggering statistics. Especially when we consider the millions of people suffering with undiagnosed conditions. Yet there’s no news coverage. No outrage or call for investigation and treatment.

The most recent epidemic of the Zika virus had news organizations scurrying to cover the story, over 5,000 people have been affected so far. With Ebola, upwards of 28,000 people were sickened, a clearly terrifying illness with dire consequences. In 2003, SARS brought media frenzy. Pictures of people wearing face masks covered the front page of every newspaper and online news source. Close to 9,000 people were affected.

I live with an autoimmune mediated neurodegenerative disease. There’s no cure .. only medications to help with the some of the symptoms. I for one, want to quote the movie ‘Network’ and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

These aren’t just statistics we’re talking about .. they’re people. People that have lost the lives they knew .. that are suffering and in pain .. that can no longer parent, work, drive or play. Most of us are struck down in our prime .. when we should be the caregivers .. not the cared for. We deserve to have our voices heard.

The outrage is warranted. The problem is real.

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