Image: WOLDCnews.com

Image: WOLDCnews.com

CNN Health has just published a nice article outlining many conditions that can be overlooked in women, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and several autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Included in the article is a quote from Virginia Ladd, founder and executive director of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association:

"More than 40 percent of women eventually diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease have basically been told by a doctor that they're just too concerned with their health or they're a hypochondriac."

The resounding message of the article is to trust your (possibly irritable) gut; if you feel off somehow, keep pursuing the topic with your doctor or get a second opinion.

PS- Look for our blog entry on Wednesday about autoimmune disorders and X chromosome inactivation. It will be a more in-depth entry about the genetic reasons women are more at risk for these conditions.

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Comments

40%? Wow! Hopefully through this blog we can educate women by providing sound evidence that reflects on the sex and gender differences in health and disease. We suffer from diseases differently than men. This is OK. However, as a population, we need to be more aware of what the signs and symptoms of diseases are in women.

The medical profession should be embarrassed with a 60% success rate in identifying that women are ill. This is not even identifying the illness and is just the confirmation step that the patient is ill. This information needs to be presented to doctors to let them know that their rate of success isn't so good.

At the same time, it would be interesting to know if communication approaches are part of the problem and whether there is a significantly difference in the rate of illness confirmation between women and men.

Women should be very aware of their body. We sometimes thought that we don't have diseases not until we notice some symptoms. Still, it is very appropriate to always have a physical examination every now and then.

Just to clarify: the statistic is NOT that 40% of women will eventually be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Rather, that of those diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, 40% had been told that they were overreacting.

Thyroid disease is one of the most often undiagnosed and misdiagnosed diseases. It may affect up to 27 million Americans, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists; more than 50% of them go undiagnosed. In fact, 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime.

I know this article was posted back in October, but I just found it today while doing some research. While the numbers themselves are shocking ... here's one thing I'm confused about. WHY are so many women having these diseases and problems to begin with? It just can't all be just the diet (or lack thereof). There are many women who do all the right things and still get sick. It seems like that even though you do all the right things, you are still as likely to get sick.

I have MS myself. I was DX back in 1998 even though in retrospect symptoms appeared long before that. MS as most other autoimmune disorders are difficult to DX as I suspect with other autoimmune disorders the symptoms could be initially similar to other ailments. The one factor that was not discussed was the fact that most definitive test of autoimmune disorders are often costly and time consuming which in itself may delay a diagnosis

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As a provider that works with people suffering from these conditions listed, I can say that auto-immune conditions are often missed because the routine lab work done is either the minimum to be done or is too general -- there are more specific ways to evaluate the immune system via markers in blood work than the routine ANA, which is not specific at all.
Many of my patients are auto-immune, and they rarely know it until we do our specific immune tests, that unfortunately most insurance plans think are only reserved for someone with AIDS or a similar condition. I have seen patients with no testing done, as well as patients that have had oodles of tests (and were non-conclusive, again, using nonspecific markers which fluctuate too much).
Thanks for sharing this information, as too many people need to realize this.

If you feel you have a problem do not let a GP tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. There could be serious problems. Find the answers

There are food sensitivities that doctors don't really pick up on, a lot of times. The most troublesome being gluten. I agree with the doctor that said that people are not being tested with the right tests, mainly because the insurance companies do not cover those tests, or only partially cover them. My ins. co. only covered a third of my expensive testing for Lyme and co-infections. But, now I have a solid DX!

It is shocking that more than %40 of women will be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I think our modern lifestyles are to blame.

Eating right, getting exercise and plenty of sleep is not so easy anymore, but holistic health starts with a healthy lifestyle and sufferers from auto immune disease can also turn to alternative medicine to complement their doctor's treatments.

Massage therapy is a great way to relieve all the diseases mentioned. Yoga, meditation and acupuncture can also help. Women need to have hope that an auto-immune diagnosis does not sentence you to a dreary painful life.

Always trust your own feelings and look into symptoms as deep as possible. Always get multiple opinions and take preventative measures to make sure these don't happen!

Dear Candace,

What an interesting article. I think you are right that there are a lot of people who know that there's someting wrong with their body, but the doctor doesn't believe them. On the other hand: there are also a lot of people who want to believe that they are ill, but who are in perfect health condition. It is important to keep looking what can be the cause of you feeling ill, and so discover your condition, but I do think it is hard to be a physician and really find out what is wrong with the patient. Until now it still isn't possible for a human being to feel the pain of someone else. If that would be possible, it wold be much easier to find out the condition of the patient....

Nevertheless this was an interesting article, I really liked it!

Kind regards,

Lieselot

Though there are a lot of diseases that women should know about,i emphasize that knowing diseases like Fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue syndrome will help women a lot.The above mentioned problems are much more common than any other diseases,which makes life dull and boring.

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