Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues, causing inflammation and damage. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, and they can affect any part of the body, including the skin, joints, muscles, and organs. While the specific signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases can vary depending on the condition, there are some common signs to be aware of.
Do you think you have an autoimmune condition?
While there are many different types of autoimmune diseases that affect many different organs, all autoimmune conditions are the result of your immune system attacking your own body. When your body is working overtime to defend itself against something potentially dangerous – an allergen, toxin, infection, or even food – it can easily become stressed and mistakenly attack your own tissues instead of potential invaders, causing a wide range of symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially a combination of several of them, you may have an autoimmune condition and should seek medical advice for proper diagnosis:
Fatigue: One of the most common symptoms of autoimmune disease is fatigue. This can range from mild to severe and may be a result of the body's immune system attacking healthy cells and causing inflammation.
Joint pain and stiffness: Many autoimmune diseases can cause joint pain and stiffness similar to arthritis. This is often felt in the hands, feet, and knees, and may be accompanied by swelling and redness.
Muscle weakness: Some autoimmune diseases can cause muscle weakness or difficulty with coordination. This may be due to the immune system attacking the nerves that control the muscles.
Skin rashes: Skin rashes and lesions are common symptoms of many autoimmune diseases. These may be itchy, red, or scaly, and can appear on different parts of the body.
Digestive problems: Autoimmune diseases can cause a variety of digestive problems, including nausea, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
Fever: A low-grade fever may be present in some autoimmune diseases, as a result of inflammation and the immune system's response to it.
Hair loss: Some autoimmune diseases can cause hair loss or thinning, especially in patches.
Difficulty breathing: Autoimmune diseases that affect the lungs or airways can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, or other breathing difficulties.
Dry eyes or mouth: Some autoimmune diseases can affect the glands that produce tears and saliva, causing dry eyes or mouth.
It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it's important to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis if you are experiencing any of them.
In addition to these symptoms, autoimmune diseases can also cause other health problems, such as thyroid problems, anaemia, and kidney damage. If you have a family history of autoimmune disease or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider.
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders that can affect any part of the body. The symptoms can be vague and overlap with other conditions, so it's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and seek medical attention if you suspect you may have an autoimmune disease. Early diagnosis can help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage to the body.
Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.
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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Autoimmune Diseases. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/autoimmune-diseases
MedlinePlus. Autoimmune Diseases. https://medlineplus.gov/autoimmunediseases.html
Autoimmune Association. https://autoimmune.org/disease-information/