Why does it often take so long and numerous doctors visits to get an autoimmune diagnosis?

Why does it often take so long and numerous doctors visits to get an autoimmune diagnosis?

Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are notorious for being difficult to diagnose for a number of reasons. At the onset of an autoimmune condition, the symptoms tend to be intermittent and vague until the disease becomes acute. Even after this point, because symptoms can and do affect different parts of the body, patients can seek assistance from one specialist for one symptom and another specialist for a symptom that doesn’t seem connected to the first. The complexity of these conditions also means that each patient’s symptom profile is unique. There is no single symptom that defines each disease, rather it is a collection of symptoms that can differ between patients with the same condition.

General practitioners receive a very limited education regarding autoimmune disease. As this is the first port of call for most patients, this lack of in-depth knowledge can delay how long it takes to be referred to the correct specialist. Historically, research has been mostly disease-specific and limited in scope. This is something that is improving through increased information sharing. Collaborative efforts have always been something the ANRF has supported and we hope that in the future this will help to ensure faster diagnoses and rapid treatment intervention that result in vastly improved patient outcomes.

Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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