You May Have an Autoimmune Disease But Don’t Know It!

May 12, 2012 in Categories: , by

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Do you have an autoimmune disease that you are unaware of?  I’m not talking about the severe autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Grave’s Disease.  If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from one of these types of conditions, you are probably already aware that they are autoimmune in nature.  I’m talking about the conditions which are generally not life-threatening (although some of them can become so), for which the treatment may be as simple as a small dose of steroids or daily NSAIDS, and for which doctor’s typically shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal.  Yes, a surprising number of those types of conditions, eczema and arthritis for example, are actually autoimmune in nature.

As I perused a list of confirmed and suspected autoimmune diseases, I was shocked by how many common skin conditions and gut health disorders are autoimmune in nature (to the point where I wonder if all digestive disorders and skin conditions will eventually be considered autoimmune diseases).  I was also surprised by how many autoimmune diseases are characterized by nebulous symptoms that could easily be ignored and attributed to not getting enough sleep (at least until they get bad enough).  Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of autoimmune diseases (here’s the link), but here are some that stood out to me as ones that many people suffer from without ever being told that they are actually autoimmune diseases (some of these are suspected autoimmune diseases rather than confirmed and some of them are certainly life-threatening serious diseases but maybe not commonly understood to be autoimmune in nature).

  • Alpopecia (spot baldness)
  • Arthritis (all forms)
  • Atopic Allergy (tendency to be hyperallergic)
  • Dermatitis (all forms)
  • Cancer
  • Type I Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastritis
  • Lichen Planus
  • Lichen Sclerosis
  • Morphea (localized scleroderma)
  • Myositis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Polymyalgia rhematica
  • Psoriasis
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Scleroderma
  • Vasculitis

It is worthy to note here that there is a whole other group of diseases, such as anxiety and depression, asthma, allergies, Type II Diabetes and even acne, that are not considered autoimmune disease but for which the immune system still plays a part.  If you suffer from any of these conditions, it is worth while giving strong consideration to following the paleo diet Autoimmunie Protocol, especially if out-of-the-box paleo doesn’t address your health issues. 

The more I read about health and nutrition, the more I am coming to believe that autoimmunity acquired as a result of a leaky gut caused by the Standard American Diet is far more rampant than epidemiological reports would have us believe.  I suspect that autoimmunity is a spectrum with symptoms so mild in the early phases that we are generally unaware.  I suspect that autoimmunity is very common is people with metabolic syndrome (or even people who simply struggle with weight loss).  And I think that in many people those ethereal early phases of autoimmunity can last years or even decades.  The symptoms of autoimmune conditions can be nebulous.  They can come and go and not seem to be anything more than the result of the stresses of normal life and what we consider to be a normal part of aging.  But if you find yourself claiming that “I’m just not getting enough sleep these days” or “yeah, my knees have been bugging me” or “well, my mom had arthritis at my age”, take a hard look at these symptoms and consider the possibility that you are perhaps dealing with the very beginnings of autoimmunity. 

Symptoms which may be caused by autoimmunity:

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Swollen Glands
  • Susceptibility to Infections
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Unexplained Weight Changes
  • Resistance to Weight Loss
  • Yeast Infections
  • Digestive Problems
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent Headaches
  • Memory Problems
  • Allergies
  • Rashes
  • Blood Pressure Changes (usually low)
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Thyroid Problems
  • PMS

When dealing with these early symptoms of autoimmunity, you are unlikely to get a clear diagnosis from your doctor.  But, you are more likely to see rapid resolution of your symptoms by following The Autoimmune Protocol (you may even see resolution of your symptoms with out-of-the-box paleo).  And on the very bright side, if you “catch it early”, you may be able to eventually reintroduce nuts, seeds, eggs, nightshades and alcohol.  So, are you a person who needs to follow The Autoimmune Protocol?  Maybe.  I would make this suggestion:  if you don’t feel amazing after a couple of months on out-of-the-box paleo, try The Autoimmune Protocol.  It just might be right for you.

Comments

I’m on day 12 of the AIP. Have done GAPS a few years back, and also have been grain free (mostly Paleo) for over 6 months. I’m wondering if you have ever heard of heart rhythm issues being autoimmune or allergy issues? I get racing episodes and 2 years ago was diagnosed with atrial flutter which would not resolve without a cardioversion. Not fun! So curious if you have ever run across heart rhythm issues/ racing particularly being connected to auto-immunity.

My integrative medicine professional told me that the AIP is basically like the elimination diet…NOT something to do long term. What’s up with that?

my doc said my autoantibodies are slightly higher then normal but that it’s probably not a cause for concern… Could I have the beginnings of an autoimmune disease? Or is my problem something else? I have all of the symptoms….

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