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Autoimmune Disease – Symptoms of the “Hidden Epidemic”

An estimated 50 million people in the US alone have some form of autoimmunity.  For many, the symptoms of autoimmune disease are not always textbook.  They can start small, last for years, and subtly grow into major health issues.  Because they don’t always follow a clear path, many people go to the doctor with a plethora of vague problems that don’t quite match what the doctor was taught in medical school.

Another problem surrounding autoimmune illness is that medical training to understand how autoimmune symptoms can cross over to multiple organs and systems is not emphasized.  Medical experts typically hyper specialize in either one organ, or one system; therefor, they do not recognize that the multitude of health issues a person might be having can all be related or tied into an autoimmune process.

Autoimmune Disease Can Be A Silent Killer

Many autoimmune diseases start with small symptoms that can insidiously grow and morph into more small symptoms.  This can happen for decades before the problems have done enough damage to send you into a doctor’s office to get a definitive diagnosis.  That means you could have years of accumulated inflammatory damage before learning that your body has been silently attacking itself.  The following video breaks down that top 7 symptoms of autoimmune disease that often go missed leading to years of unnecessary suffering…

What are the Hidden Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease

Symptoms of autoimmune disease are not always cut and dry.  A common pattern is that the symptoms start small and get worse with time.  They don’t usually have an obvious cause or trigger.  They are often times blamed on the aging process, family history, or the favorite excuse of doctors when they don’t have an answer – stress.   So the question is – “What are the hidden symptoms of autoimmune disease that could indicate that you are developing an AI related illness?”

    1. Muscle and Joint Pain – Aches, pains, stiffness, tightness, and proneness to injury with even light activity can be a silent and slow working AI process. People that suffer with these symptoms cannot link the onset of pain to any injury or traumatic event.  They simply have a history of slow, progressive musculoskeletal issues.  Early on, these people often make attempts at exercise and physical activity only to find that it becomes harder and harder.  As the symptoms progress, these individuals find that they put on more weight, often retain water, and become extremely prone to injuring themselves with minimal activity.  Often times, these people experience pains that migrate from one area of the body to another with no rhyme or reason.  This migrating pain can worsen into swelling, redness, and stiffness in muscles and joints leading to a complete avoidance of physical activity for fear of more pain.   The visit to the doctor will commonly lead to a prescription or over the counter pain medication that targets the issue by blocking inflammation.  Pain medication use becomes more frequent with time, but is accepted because these people are typically told that there pain is normal, or that they are just getting older.  As they spend years chemically masking there pain, the underlying AI process only grows and gets worse, leading to greater problems.  For more information on this problem, see “The Prescription Pain Trap”.   Some of the AI diseases related to this group of symptoms are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, migratory arthritis, reactive arthritis, dermatomyositis, myalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and scleroderma.
    2. Fatigue and Brain Fog – You wake up tired, push through your day feeling tired, and trying to concentrate or remember small tasks becomes more and more overwhelming. These individuals will often gravitate toward self-medicating with caffeine – usually in the form of coffee or high caffeine teas.  Initially, the caffeine is helpful at stimulating morning energy levels and boosting afternoon energy.  But the paradox of too much caffeine is that it can cause B-vitamin and magnesium deficiency.  Because these nutrients are needed by the body to produce energy, the fatigue persists and in time worsens.  Caffeine also disrupts the sleep cycle, so these individuals often have a hard time going to sleep at night.  And when their rest is compromised, their ability to recover is stifled, and the fatigue becomes even more progressive.  A visit to the doctor might lead to prescription medication for ADD or medication for thyroid disease.  And although these drugs can sometimes improve the symptoms, they don’t resolve the underlying autoimmune process.  These individuals will often end up confined to bed for most of the day, and when they try to get out of bed, they pay for it with overwhelming exhaustion for days afterward.  Some AI diseases linked to this category of symptoms are, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroidism), autoimmune gastritis that causes anemia, pernicious anemia, type I diabetes, Addison’s disease, silent celiac, and myocarditis.
    3. Anemia of Unknown Causes – Much like #2, anemia can contribute to severe fatigue. The fatigue of anemia is often times described as relentless fatigue that is not improved with rest.  It is coupled with the symptoms of shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, cold intolerance, exercise intolerance, anxiety, and proneness to passing out.  Because there are different types of anemia (iron deficiency, B-vitamin deficiency anemia, hemolytic anemia, etc), the symptoms can overlap as well.  For example, B-vitamin deficiency anemia can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet as well as nerve pain.  Iron deficiency anemia can cause cold intolerance.  People who fit these symptoms typically have a history of recurring anemias.  For example, they go to the doctor and find out their iron levels are low.  After a blood transfusion, they feel great for a time.  But the anemia comes back, and know one asks why.  So they go through this cycle never learning that they actually have an autoimmune illness.  Examples of AI disease that can cause anemia are celiac disease, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia, and gastritis.  It is important to know that anemia can also be caused by taking medication that block stomach acid.  You need acid to absorb both iron and B-vitamins.  So this category often has cross over with #7.  Because B-12 deficiency can also cause neuropathy, it is also common to see symptom cross over with #4 on this list.
    4. Neuropathy – One of the most common symptoms of autoimmune disease.  Nerve damage can manifest in many different ways. Physical manifestations can include numbness and tingling in the extremities, nerve pain, stabbing or shooting pain into the arms and legs, muscle weakness, muscle loss, and hypersensitivity to touch.  Neuropathy can also effect the brain and spinal cord and muscles.  Symptoms can manifest as dizziness, brain fog, vertigo, poor coordination, and ringing in the ears.  This category commonly has overlap with #1, #2, and #3.  AI nerve damage will also effect the gut leading to irritable bowel and in very bad cases, gastroparesis.    There are a number of research studies that link gluten and dairy consumption to AI nerve damage.  Examples of AI diseases of the nervous system include, multiple sclerosis, GBS, cerebellar ataxia, dynautonomia (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), ALS, Restless Leg Syndrome, transverse myelitis, polyneuropathy, and gastroparesis.
    5. Cold Intolerance – Cold intolerance is a common symptom that can indicate an autoimmune problem.  A form of autoimmunity called Raynaud’s disease can contribute to cold intolerance.  So can hypothyroidism.  Anemia can also cause this symptom.
    6. Intermittent Low Grade Fevers – The body uses fever to help combat infection and sometimes to fight food allergy.  Many who have this symptom also have swollen lymph nodes in the neck or throat.   As infection and food allergies are both major triggers for autoimmune disease, low grade fevers without a known origin should be investigated further.  Keep in mind that not all infections are obvious.  Some of them are more chronic nature.
    7. Gut Problems – Gut problems are one of the most common symptoms of autoimmune disease.  Gut symptoms often indicate intestinal hyper-permeability (Leaky Gut).  Leaky gut is a trigger for autoimmune symptoms.  Acid reflux, intestinal bloating, cramping, and pain are all common signs that this is happening.  Additionally constipation, diarrhea, and frequent blood in the stool can be autoimmune symptoms.  Damage to the gut is often a result of food allergies, intolerances, and exposure to harmful chemicals (pesticides, chlorine, etc).  Many medications  can also contribute to gut problems.  So if you are taking medications, make sure you cross reference your medicines with side effects associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction.  Ask your doctor to rule out food allergies and gluten sensitivity.

Did you have a list of vague symptoms before you were diagnosed with autoimmune disease?  What were they?  Share below…

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

Gluten Free Warrior Commentary

comments

18 responses on “7 Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disease That Often Get Overlooked

  1. Darcy says:

    Well, all of this appears accurate and common but getting the right care and comprehensive work up means you have to be wealthy. That’s the problem! Only wealthy people can get healthy bc all the docs who do this work up and treatment charge huge amounts of money not to mention the thousands on supplements and labs not covered by insurance … advice?

    Additionally, I know a few doctors who specialize in autoimmune issues in my town and besides being seriously in the hole financially, patients I have referred into those folks aren’t any better, but now even more sickly die to the fear and stress of not getting better

    Again, ideas?
    Much appreciated

  2. KT says:

    I answered yes to all of this. I’ve been 90% grain-free organic, legume-free, lots of leafy greens for five years. It’s frustrating going to a traditional, insurance approved doctor and having to be sent all over the region to get different Tests done when the blood testing just doesn’t show anything. So, off to the laboratory for more blood testing, somewhere else for a colonoscopy, another location for a breast exam. Etc.… All the traditional testing. And I just don’t have confidence that we are on the right track. And yes the symptoms aren’t going away and getting worse. I won’t give up on the grain free organic diet, however I’m not exercising as much to avoid the pain. Just don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi, Darcy.
      I totally feel your frustration–it’s my frustration, too. However, I have made a point of tapping into as many on-line resources as possible, particularly in the way of health summits and other video series (that is how I came across Dr. Osborne), and through what I have improved tremendously, not only in how I feel and think but in my blood work (thyroid antibodies from over 1200 to below 200!). I have not been able to afford all of the recommended supplements, but I get what I can when I can, with some prioritization for a few of them. My diet and eating patterns (daily intermittent fasting/timed feeding) have been the major changes and my biggest investment, but also being ever more aware of EMFs and other toxins, supporting my liver, minding my sleep hygiene, physical activity, and other steps I have taken that cost me nothing have made a difference! Don’t doubt that you can do it!

  3. Ktb says:

    Yep. The entire list was slowly but surely ongoing from the SECOND my first baby was born. It would be 15 years later that testing confirmed Celiac. It’s been 12 years since and I’m still trying to figure out full remission and healing.

  4. Mar Gal says:

    I’ve suffered for over 45 years with AI symptoms. I really need to see a naturopath but my insurance won’t pay for it. I have all the symptoms you described but anemia. I’m going to a rheumatologist on the 29th. I don’t have much faith in regular doctors. Thank you for your advice. Melodic 🦄

  5. Carol Herdock says:

    My 17 year old granddaughter was diagnosed with Crohns Disease at age 15. She is currently working with a holistic doctor and has cut out all gluten, grains, and most meats except chicken and fish. She is only supposed to have 1 gram of fiber a day (which is difficult). She eats mostly organic with shakes that include supplements. She takes prebiotics and probiotics. She continues to have cramps and diahrrea, though not as often as before. She has lost about 15 pounds. Where can I get a list of allowed food and/or foods to definitely avoid. I believe there is something that is still affecting her. I feel badly for her as she misses outings/activities with friends as well as school time.

  6. Lucie Lawson says:

    I have had fatigue & asthma for over 10 years I knew something was wrong I had numerous blood tests done all doctors were saying you are ok but I didn’t feel ok.
    Than I started to research and found out about Ige food alergie test l was allergic to almost 15 different food. After I have changed my diet to only grass and free range meet fruit, vegetable, almonds & coconut milk it took me one year to fix my gut. My asthma have disappear almost in 3weeks from when I changed my diet.
    Now I’m feeling much better still can’t do lot’s of exercise but every day l see improvement and that makes me happy to keep eating the way I should.
    Lucie from South Australia

  7. Sj says:

    I had a lot of this . Was amazed at how much diference b12 and d3 made. Worth every penny to be grain sugad dairy free!

  8. Edward m Bolinoff says:

    Hi I am Edward B and I haveirratable Bowel syndrome ankl losing sparengatis flymalargia had psoriasis sore throat get headaches poor balance deupentrons contraction mental disorders was in a traumatic shop injured accident when I was 21 Have post trama stress disorder please tell me what I can do Thanks Ed B!!

  9. sher says:

    I was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease 15 years ago after many years of feeling bad (which was the AI). The doc was a GI specialist and did a biopsy to confirm it (during a routine colonoscopy). But that was just the beginning. At the time, he said supplements didn’t help, nor allergy shots, or anything else. I took a special compound ($$$) for 2 years and it helped with the worst symptoms. Later I used a very inexpensive drug from Europe for a while that was the same as the compound. When I felt better, I could actually think (brain fog was horrible). I knew a lot about holistic health — so I started experimenting. Here is what ended up helping me heal; today I am a different person — healthy, vital, energetic — 70+ years old. It is possible! But you have to take control, and experiment on yourself! Everyone is different. 1) take THE BEST vitamins and supplements 2) heal the leaky gut 3) reduce the allergic response (allergy shots or homeopathic). I was severely allergic to dairy, somewhat allergic to gluten, so I eliminated those. Then other foods I rotated for a long time. 4) mild exercise (extreme exercise can work against you) like walking, biking (not extreme) as soon as you feel somewhat better; even walking 3 blocks a day is good. 5) spiritual practice–prayer, meditation, mindfulness, LOVE!! yourself and others. BE GRATEFUL FOR EACH STEP OF PROGRESS. 6) several homeopathic treatments (inexpensive) to support the endocrine system 7) biofeedback — this can re-wire several systems. I use the SCIO — most comprehensive and effective one available. 8) as soon as you feel better, decide what your purpose is for this life — live it to the max! Feeling good, enjoying yourself, loving others, and being of use for a greater good is some of the best medicine you will ever find!

  10. JZ says:

    I’m really curious what you think about the notion that Lyme disease is at the root cause of many of these symptoms and diagnoses? My research is leading to me to believe it’s way more prevalent than generally thought and that treating it is needed to get at the root cause.

  11. Darleen says:

    You failed to mention skin rashes and skin issues.

  12. Cherie says:

    I have no problems with autoimmune disease because the Lord lead me in time to all the right vitamins, like Milk Thistle to keep my liver healthy, D3,
    combined Vit. B, turmeric/curcumin, antioxidants Resveratox from BIOGLAN, Vit. E, which is also a low grade blood thinner, Ubiquinole Q10, K2 for clean arteries normalising blood pressure, coconut oil etc. I keep myself informed by naturopath practitioners to avoid health problems.

  13. Bryan G says:

    I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis 9 years ago. Since then I have Raynauds, Sjogrens, IBS-D, Gout, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Restless Leg, Diverticulitis, Severe Peripheral Neuropathy, Lumbosacral Spondylosis, Lumbosacral Radiculopathy and Chronic Pain Syndrome. Depression and Anxiety are everyday battles also. Was first diagnosed when I was 40, now I’m 50

  14. Nancy says:

    I had #1, #2, #4, #7 all before being diagnosed with MS. I was told I was just getting old. (at age 43) and that everyone has these issues. I knew it wasn’t right. Listen to your body!! Don’t ignore the red flags!!

  15. Jacqui says:

    Hi Dr Osborne
    Do you have any advice for someone trying a infrared sauna or a steam ozone for detoxification with a recent diagnosis of an Auto Immune disease ?

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