More and more patients are coming to Parsley Health with autoimmune diseases they didn’t even know they had, or should be checked for. Too many doctors brush off symptoms like headaches, low energy and digestive issues as normal side effects of life.
We know they aren’t normal. In fact, these are some of the first things we ask patients about when we have a consultation with them.
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Sore joints, eczema, headaches, low energy, digestive issues—if you suffer through any of these on the regular, you’re probably tempted to brush them off as annoying but not that big of a deal.Yet if your symptoms are chronic or don’t have an obvious cause (like a gnarly workout that you can link to muscle aches), one doctor warns you shouldn’t take them lightly because they could be hints that a more serious health storm is brewing.According to Parsley Health founder Robin Berzin, MD, all of these complaints could be early signs of autoimmune disease: a broad category of ailments that are plaguing a rapidly growing number of Americans, especially women. (According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, almost 80 percent of people with autoimmune disorders are female.)In her own integrative medical clinics in New York City and Los Angeles—the latter of which just opened this month—Dr. Berzin says that the number of patients she’s seeing with autoimmune issues is growing at an alarming rate. “What we’re seeing is that our immune systems are becoming increasingly dysregulated,” she says. “Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s [disease]—autoimmune diseases of all kinds are on the rise.”If you’ve heard the term before but don’t know exactly what it means, you’re not alone. Autoimmune disorders as a group are nearly as common as cancer and heart disease, but they’re talked about way less.As Dr. Berzin explains: “An autoimmune disease is when the immune system, which is only supposed to attack outside invaders, starts attacking the cells in your body.” For instance, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when immune antibodies attack the joints, leading to serious pain and swelling; Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune thyroid condition, which eventually causes fatigue, depression, and weight gain (among other symptoms); while for those with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the intestinal tract becomes severely inflamed.
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