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Through my eyes: Autoimmune conditions

I have several autoimmune conditions: 

Healthcare professionals define autoimmune conditions as occurring when the immune system, which normally protects the body from infection by fighting bacteria and viruses, behaves abnormally by attacking the body’s own healthy cells.

This causes inflammation in the joints, organs, blood vessels, tendons, skin, and more.

Many people refer to it as having an overactive immune system.

Although some of the symptoms overlap, each of the autoimmune conditions I have are distinct. They exist simultaneously and are therefore comorbid.

None of these conditions are contagious, there is currently no cure for any of them, and their causes are unknown.

We only know that some people’s genes predispose them to these conditions, and that environmental factors trigger them.

For example, it is possible that stress, hormonal changes, or a minor infection such as a cold virus triggered mine. Other people may develop autoimmune conditions following pregnancy, trauma, or injury.

Where it all started

It all started for me when I was around 14 or 15 years old, and I started to get dry skin on my scalp, ears, and elbows. I had general aches and pains, which were problematic for me because I represented my school in hockey, tennis, and athletics, while spending most of my free time playing sport, swimming, or riding my bike.

I remember being told that it was probably a combination of “growing pains” and eczema, and that I would grow out of it.

What I actually had was psoriasis, but it would be 10–12 years before I received that diagnosis. I now know that in psoriasis, the immune system causes skin cells to develop too rapidly, and that they can build up into sore, dry patches called plaques. Psoriasis can affect the joints and develop into a form of arthritis, which is what happened to me.

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