7 years ago, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease ankylosing spondylitis (AS) with complete fusion of both sacroiliac joints. Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes the bones in the spine to fuse. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture; a good example would be the “hunchback of notre dame”. If ribs are affected, it can be difficult to breathe deeply. It also affects other joints, and, in some instances, you can develop cardiovascular disease.
It’s unknown what causes the condition, but there’s thought to be a link with a gene known as HLA-B27. This is a specific type of protein that contributes to immune system dysfunction. The presence of HLA-B27 means that my white blood cells cause my immune system to attack those otherwise healthy cells.
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but treatments can lessen symptoms and, with some of the new drugs available, possibly slow the progression of the disease.
As with all autoimmune diseases, having one means you are more likely to suffer with others. I also have Ulcerative Colitis, Raynaud’s, Asthma and Purpura (the awful one that covers your skin with a horrible rash caused by bleeding under the skin’s surface)
My doctors and friends keep telling me I am an excellent “case study” for self-help and that I should share some of my life stories. I’ve therefore decided to write regular blogs detailing my experience living with an autoimmune disease and providing lifestyle tips and helpful advice based on my extensive research. I will share these blogs via Instagram and Twitter, and you can also subscribe below. If you find my blogs useful, please share them with friends and family who also have autoimmune disease symptoms; if I can help one person to live a better life, it will be worthwhile 😊…
You can also follow my story on Instagram, living_with_autoimmune
Scientists know about more than 80 autoimmune diseases. Some are well known, such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and ankylosing spondylitis while others are rare and difficult to diagnose. With unusual autoimmune diseases, people often suffer years before getting a proper diagnosis. Most of these diseases have no cure. Some require lifelong treatment to ease symptoms.
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