AARDA launches campaign on family AQ

March 21, 2016

5. Do your own family medical history. Given the family connection, knowing the health histories of other family members is critical. For example, if your grandmother or father or sister or uncle has an autoimmune disease, you could be more susceptible to developing one yourself. Take an inventory of your family health problems, expanding your research beyond your immediate family to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives. Once you know your family history, share it with other family members and your doctor who can then assess the possibilities with a degree of accuracy and order appropriate tests.

6. Keep a "symptoms" list. People with autoimmune diseases often suffer from a number of symptoms that, on the surface, seem unrelated. In addition, they may have suffered from other seemingly unrelated symptoms throughout their lives. It is important, therefore, to make a list of every major symptom you've experienced so that you can present it clearly to your doctor. List the symptoms in the order of concern to you.

7. Realize that getting an autoimmune disease diagnosis is often challenging.An AARDA study of autoimmune patients found that the average time for diagnosis of a serious autoimmune disease is 4.6 years. During that period, the patient typically has seen 4.8 doctors; and 46 percent of the patients were told initially that they were too concerned about their health or that they were chronic complainers. One of the factors that makes getting a correct autoimmune disease diagnosis so difficult is that symptoms can vary widely, notably from one disease to another, and even within the same disease. Also, because autoimmune diseases affect multiple systems, their symptoms can often be misleading.

The medical community's lack of knowledge of autoimmune disease compounds the problem. Even though these diseases share a genetic background and tend to run in families, most health questionnaires at doctors' offices do not ask whether there is a family history of autoimmune disease.

8. Hold the power to protect your family's future health and well-being in your handsngratulations! By working through these steps and doing your homework, you now have the knowledge to determine whether you or your loved ones could be at risk for developing an autoimmune disease.

Source American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)