Kiwanis Dan Cline

Dan Cline of Bryan is one of an estimated 23.5 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune disease. A member of the Kiwanis Club of Bryan, Cline spoke about his experiences with the disease at the weekly Kiwanis club meeting this past Wednesday. RON OSBURN/Staff

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease.

Count Dan Cline of Bryan as one of them.

Autoimmune disease is not just one disease but a condition in which the body’s over activity attacks and damages its own tissues and joints. Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis.

“Doctors say I have the joints of an 80-year-old man,” Cline, 51, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Bryan, told club members during an impromptu address to the club at its regular weekly meeting this past Wednesday.

In autoimmune disease, immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections. Cline said his symptoms includes joint pain and debilitating fatigue.

“I’m not able to do a lot of thing without planning ahead of time. (For instance) I have to plan my trips to the grocery store. Sometimes I’ll be active for a day or maybe even a week, but then I’ll have to rest for two weeks, that’s how tired it makes (me),” said Cline.

Cline said his symptoms began in 1988 and said he’s been to the local hospital emergency room “a countless number of times for symptoms related to his disease.”

He also was diagnosed with cancer, which he attributes to autoimmune disease.

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire, though women get autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men.

Certain autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and lupus, run in families. and research show the prevalence of autoimmune disease is rising.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include: Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis. Type 1 diabetes and Guillain-Barre syndrome, according to the NIH.

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