The month of March is National Professional Social Work Month. In addition, March is National Nutrition Month. Since the professions of social work and nutrition are tightly interrelated with connections to the healthcare sector in a number of differing ways, a couple of previous posts had been devoted to these aforementioned month-long observations. Click here and right here to read these posts.
Well, March is also Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month. The whole purpose of Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month is to bring crucial awareness to the painful plights of the nearly 50 million individuals in America who are currently afflicted with autoimmune diseases. Many common illnesses such as type I diabetes, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease are autoimmune in origin.
An autoimmune disease is one in which a person’s bodily immune response begins to destroy perfectly healthy tissues and organ systems, leading to illness. Eustice (2018) asserts that an autoimmune disease is related to a malfunction of a person’s immune system, which results in the body attacking its own tissues. When the immune system malfunctions, the body sees its own tissues as foreign and attacks those tissues.
In addition, more than 100 autoimmune disease processes exist, and approximately 75 percent of afflicted persons are females. Some other common autoimmune diseases include Graves disease, psoriasis, vitiligo, inflammatory bowel disease, hemolytic anemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile arthritis, vasculitis, Hashimoto’s disease, mixed connective tissue disease and autoimmune hepatitis.
Certain factors seem to place an individual at a greatly increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease process. Females of childbearing age, persons who belong to particular racial-ethnic backgrounds, people who have been exposed to certain triggers or environmental exposures, and individuals with a family history of autoimmune disease are at higher risk of developing an autoimmune response (Eustice, 2018).
According to Whitehill (2017), Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month provides the public with the optimal opportunity to continue to raise awareness of scleroderma, Raynaud’s disease and the multitude of other autoimmune-related health problems. In order for a widespread public health problem such as autoimmune disease to be solved, it must first be acknowledged and brought into peoples’ awareness on a large scale.
If autoimmune conditions receive more attention from the American public as well as deeply moneyed stakeholders such as large research universities and major hospital systems, financial investments in well-designed autoimmune disease research trials will most likely rise. The body’s autoimmune response definitely needs further investigation in order to find a cure and perhaps alleviate the suffering of millions of affected people.
More monetary investment in clinical and medical research is surely needed to enhance the day to day realities for those unfortunate individuals who are caught up in the midst of the autoimmune disease journey, as well as swifter access to innovative treatments (Whitehill, 2017). A blend of innovation, money, critical thinking, initiative, research trials and intense curiosity will be needed to fight the issue of autoimmune disease.
Eustice, C. (2018, December 24). Autoimmune Disease Types and Treatment. Verywell Health. Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-an-autoimmune-disease-189661
Whitehill, N. (2017, March 7). Raising Awareness and Knowledge of Autoimmune Diseases for March. Scleroderma News. Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://sclerodermanews.com/2017/03/07/raising-awareness-knowledge-of-autoimmune-diseases-for-march/