The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance--and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is written by a journalist who finds herself with a somewhat rare and very debilitating autoimmune disease called guillain-barre syndrome.
As someone with an autoimmune disease, I was intrigued. At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (the result of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis) after suffering with extreme symptoms for over a year. At the time, I was in grad school, studying to become a physical therapist. I was tired, chronically cold, and dare I say it, horribly constipated...all the time.
The doctor I was dating at the time said I just needed more fiber. Of course, having already earned a BS in Nutritional Sciences, I knew that my diet wasn't the issue. Still, what was I going to do. I certainly wasn't going to go to the doctor.
It was only by chance that my diagnosis was made. A thorough exam by my gynecologist revealed an enlarged thyroid, and via his encouragement I had it tested. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
20 years later, and my daughter who is 10 is suddenly struck with chronic vomiting and diarrhea. Testing reveals she has Celiac disease...closely associated with autoimmune thyroiditis (what I have) and also an autoimmune disease. Then we find out my mother also has celiac or at least an autoimmune response to the protein gluten.
So, yes. I get it. Ironically, it's only recently that doctors have even acknowledged that the immune system is capable of an autoimmune response. No wonder so many people, mostly women, go undiagnosed.
In her book, Nakazawa explores the rise in autoimmune disorders and what environmental factors may be at play, among her revelations...the fact that some of us may live on or near toxic dump sites...is eye opening.
She also talks about the need to start identifying autogens much the way we try to identify carcinogens as she argues that autoimmune disorders are just as serious and can be just as debilitating especially since they are often misdiagnosed.
Good book that looks at what is likely to be a growing area of concern for many of us, if it isn't already. Nakazawa points out that our immune systems are bombarded with foreign substances daily, from microscopic carpet fibers, to exhaust fumes, to chemicals we breath in and even eat. It should be no surprise that so many of our immune systems are going wonky.