There are many signs that might indicate you have an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are being increasingly diagnosed, and those who are affected may experience a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms depending upon which type of condition they develop.
Although there are many types of autoimmune diseases, they are all caused when a flaw in a person’s immune system causes their body to begin attacking itself. Unfortunately, no one is certain as to exactly what causes this to happen, however it is believed that leaky gut, environmental toxins and genetics all play a role.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, women are more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder than men.
The process of getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder is often frustrating since many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions. In fact, many patients report that their doctors initially dismiss their symptoms as being due to stress or an emotional disorder. At first, patients are oftentimes given an antidepressant and sent on their way.
As you peruse this list of signs that indicate you may have an autoimmune disease, remember that you are your best advocate.
Here are 13 Signs You Might Have an Autoimmune Disease
1. Debilitating Fatigue
Extreme fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of an autoimmune disease. It is common to almost all autoimmune conditions and usually a telltale sign.
You may discover that you wake up more tired than you were before you went to sleep, even after going to bed early. Fatigue also tends to worsen after exercising or even just going about your day.
2. Digestive Issues
Nausea, constipation, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea can make your life miserable, and these symptoms are unfortunately hard for many doctors to narrow down to a specific diagnosis.
However, digestion issues are commonly associated with a number of autoimmune conditions, including celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disorders and others.
3. Anxiety and Depression
Autoimmune diseases are often accompanied by emotional conditions such as mood swings, panic attacks and a general lack of interest in one’s normal activities. While some people believe these symptoms occur due to the extreme distress caused by having an autoimmune disease, it is also of course possible for these disorders to be a separate diagnosis.
3. Foggy Thinking
A lack of mental clarity coupled with fatigue may have you thinking you need to get more sleep. However, the chronic inflammation in your body’s systems related to your autoimmune condition causes confusion, memory loss, general forgetfulness and an inability to concentrate – commonly referred to as brain fog. Brain fog can seriously impair the quality of one’s life.
4. Sleep Disturbances
Insomnia is fairly common in people with autoimmune disease, and you can be certain that other symptoms such as joint pain will keep you up at night. Your sleep cycle may also be interrupted by an urgent need to use the bathroom or an inability to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
It may also just be generally disturbed where you have trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep or sleep restlessly. On the other hand, some people with autoimmune disease may find they simply can’t keep awake any longer, even during the day.
5. Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
For reasons that are unknown, autoimmune diseases seem to be affected by hormonal changes during a woman’s monthly cycle. You may notice flare-ups more often before or after your period. You may also experience menstrual cycles that are heavier or lighter than normal. Similarly, not that the hormonal fluctuations associated with postpartum can trigger autoimmune disease as well.
6. Muscular Weakness
Living with an autoimmune disease can often feel like trying to walk through waist-high water where you feel weaker than you once did and where tasks are simply more difficult to complete. Weak muscles can make it harder to perform basic tasks such as walking up stairs or carrying in your groceries.
You may find that the muscular weakness comes and goes, or it may be constant. You may also feel weak in general, not just within your muscles.
7. Problem Skin
That really dry, flaky skin may be more than just a lack of humidity in the air. Severely dry skin is associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Psoriasis is known for causing patches of dry, scaly skin, and lupus can cause a red, butterfly-shaped rash to occur across the bridge of your nose. Acne can be attributed to a leaky gut.
Thyroid disorders can wreak havoc on your complexion. Dermatitis herpetiformis (a form of celiac that shows up in the skin) can cause severely itchy rashes. Hives can also be triggered through Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If you have skin issues together with some other symptoms listed within this article, it may be a symptom of an autoimmune condition.
Resources (books) for Autoimmune Disease:
8. Hair Loss
There are few things more disconcerting than discovering a handful of hair on your pillow in the morning or a thinning ponytail. Several autoimmune diseases are known for causing hair loss. Fortunately, for most people your hair is likely to grow back once you have your health under control. The autoimmune condition of alopecia may be an exception to this, however.
10. Tingling In Your Extremities
A variety of autoimmune diseases can disrupt your blood circulation and affect your nerves. When this happens, you may experience numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes. This is an especially common symptom that is associated with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, guillain-barré syndrome, lupus and others.
11. Joint Pain and Swelling
Painful joints can make every move you make feel excruciating. An under-active thyroid can make your joints feel achy and stiff. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the joints in your body. Painful joints is also present in other autoimmune conditions.
12. Weight Fluctuations
For many people, a major change in their weight is the first sign that something might be amiss with their health. Thyroid disorders are a common reason for sudden weight gain or loss, and autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system can also cause you to notice a change when you hit the scales.
13. Other Signs
- heat or cold intolerance (temperature intolerance)
- frequent urination
- changes in appetite (more hungry or less hungry)
- headaches and migraines
- vision loss
- loss of mobility in the muscles
- adrenal fatigue
- dry mouth
- dry eyes
- rapid heartbeat
- white patches inside your mouth or on your skin
- multiple miscarriages