In her mid-thirties and in good health, Brandi Bartel didn’t know what to think when she started experiencing strange symptoms.
“I started to have some hair loss, was feeling a little bit more tired than what would be normal for my activities, just didn’t feel like myself, there was something a little bit off,” Bartel said.
It took nearly two years, but Brandi was ultimately diagnosed with primary biliary colangitis, or PBC, an autoimmune disease that attacks the bile ducts of the liver.
“It’s a rare condition, it affects females more than males. Typically, patients are in their middle ages, although it can be part of a spectrum,” said Dr. Peter Ramsey, a physician with CoxHealth specializing in gastroenterology. “Ultimately, we don’t know what causes PBC, but it is probably a combination of genetics [and] an infection of some sort that triggers those genes and the immune systems to start fighting against the bile ducts.”
Brandi’s diagnosis was likely genetic, since her grandmother had the disease. At that time, the disease was called primary biliary cirrhosis.