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Autoimmune Diseases on the Rise | What to Know

The Beverly Hills Courier recently featured an article by Francesco Boin, MD, chair of Rheumatology and director of the Scleroderma Program in the Kao Autoimmunity Institute at Cedars-Sinai, and Nunzio Bottini, MD, PhD, director of the institute, about the increasing prevalence of autoimmune diseases as well as possible causes, risk factors and diagnosis.

Boin and Bottini wrote that there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases affecting about 24 million people in the U.S. The diseases develop when the body’s immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells, tissues and organs instead of protecting against bacteria and diseases.

“The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is not well understood, but the immune system is involved in every aspect of human anatomy and physiology, so its malfunction can target any organ and system in the body,” Boin and Bottini wrote in the Beverly Hills Courier, adding that new research suggests another potential link.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, new studies indicate that SARS-CoV-2 infections might be linked to a substantially increased risk of developing a range of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis and inflammatory bowel disease,” they wrote.

Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are commonly associated with other conditions. Boin and Bottini recommend finding a specialty clinic or a specialist with expertise in autoimmune disorders.

“Getting answers can require detective work, so it is important to find a clinician who will partner with you in the journey to find a diagnosis and effective treatment,” they wrote.

Click here to read the complete article from the Beverly Hills Courier.