DO YOU HAVE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

  • Do you suffer from fatigue, joint pain, weight gain, frequent headaches, hair loss, insomnia, or food sensitivities?

Maria had been ignoring these symptoms for years because they seemed minor and not life threatening. She was living life as if she were healthy, ate whatever she wanted, and acted as if she was just like everyone else. As the years passed, she began to feel less energetic and gained weight. She looked older than her real age, suffered from constant joint pain, anxiety, and insomnia. When Maria came to see me, she said that she didn’t recognize herself and wanted to understand what was happening to her.

I ordered blood work and performed adrenal and thyroid energy tests. The results showed that Maria had a chronic autoimmune illness called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  In addition, she had an overactive adrenal function, which caused her body to produce too much stress hormones – adrenalin and cortisol.

People with the autoimmune disease typically feel very discouraged. For them, undergoing conventional treatments rarely leads to a higher quality of life.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune disease can involve any organ or system in the body: joints, skin, digestive system, hormones, nerves, connective tissues, and muscles. Rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints. With Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the thyroid is attacked. MS (multiple sclerosis) destroys myelin, the protective layer around your nerves.

While it may seem that these conditions are vastly different, the common theme in all of them is that your immune system gets confused and starts attacking your body. The immune system is designed to protect you from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. It creates antibodies that are used to identify and destroy pathogens; enabling you to recover from an illness. With autoimmunity, these antibodies target healthy tissue. This leads to inflammation and cell destruction: like an army aiming its own weapons against itself!

Autoimmune illness often affects multiple organs or systems; which makes it extremely difficult to receive proper treatment. Some autoimmune diseases cause chronic symptoms, while others have little or no disease activity or flare ups. Many autoimmune conditions commonly present with nonspecific symptoms like pain and fatigue. Because these symptoms are not easily identified with a specific condition, diagnosis is troublesome. Symptoms can also vary widely from person to person, making an accurate diagnosis problematic.

The AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association) estimates that more than 50 million Americans (roughly 1 in 6) suffer from autoimmune diseases; 75 percent of whom are women. Medical science has identified more than 100 autoimmune diseases, with another 40 suspected to have an autoimmune component. Autoimmune disease is one of the most significant healthcare issues facing our world today.

Types of Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are classified into two groups: organ-specific diseases and non-organ-specific diseases. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (which affects the thyroid gland) and type 1 diabetes (which affects the pancreas) would be examples of organ-specific diseases. Some non-organ-specific diseases would be rheumatoid arthritis (which affects the joints) and lupus (which affects connective tissue). Organs of the endocrine system (thyroid, pancreas, adrenal glands, etc.) are the most commonly affected. The most commonly affected non-organ tissues are connective tissues: such as blood, muscles, and joints. Many autoimmune diseases commonly coexist with others: for example, celiac disease and Hashimoto’s.

Unfortunately, obtaining a proper diagnosis is often very challenging for those of us suffering from autoimmune diseases. According to the AARDA, those with an autoimmune disease spend an average of 4 years seeking diagnosis; with visits to more than 4 physicians in the process. Some go undiagnosed for years, while others get misdiagnosed with other conditions.

The undiagnosed and misdiagnosed rate for celiac disease can be as high as 83 percent; showing how difficult it truly can be to obtain answers. Autoimmune disease symptoms can be nonspecific, mild, and gradually build over time; making it difficult to determine if you need to see your physician. When you do, you are often told everything is fine and further testing that could uncover early warning signs is not ordered.

One of the biggest issues with the conventional treatment of autoimmune disease is that it’s often misdiagnosed. This leads to people being bounced around between primary care physicians and multiple specialists before getting proper testing and treatment. Many of us who suffer from autoimmune symptoms wonder why we should even bother seeking a diagnosis, especially if our symptoms can be improved just by making dietary and lifestyle changes. However, there are benefits to having a clear diagnosis.

THIS QUIZ will help you become clear about your risk of autoimmune illness. Also given are suggestions about the first steps you can make to start improving the quality of your life.


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AUTOIMMUNE DESEASE QUIZ

One of the biggest issues with the conventional approach to autoimmune disease is that it’s often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. This leads to patients being bounced around between primary care physicians and specialists before obtaining proper testing and treatment. Many of us who suffer from autoimmune symptoms wonder why we should even bother seeking a diagnosis, especially if our symptoms can be improved just by making dietary and lifestyle changes. However, there are benefits to having a clear diagnosis.

In order to prevent complications from the damage caused by autoimmune disease, early diagnosis is important. A correct diagnosis helps you to connect with the specialists and other medical providers you need, weigh treatment options, and think about how you want to navigate dietary and lifestyle modifications. Unfortunately, obtaining a proper diagnosis is often the most difficult part of the process for those of us suffering from autoimmune disease.

Awareness of the autoimmune diseases related to your current diagnosis can be helpful if signs of new diseases become obvious, as it can make these new diagnoses easier for health-care providers by pointing them toward likely disorders and allowing for earlier identification of multiple autoimmune syndromes.

The following quiz will help you become clear about your risk of autoimmune illness. Also given are suggestions about the first steps you can make to start improving the quality of your life.

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE QUIZ

0 – never occurs

1 – symptom occurs monthly

2 – symptom occurs weekly

3 – symptom occurs daily

4 – symptom occurs several times per day

SYMPTOMS

(Add an appropriate number for every symptom)

  • Abdominal pain or stomach cramps
  • Anemia of any type (YES – 10, NO – 0)
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Chronic pain in muscles, joints, and bones
  • Chronic viral condition (shingles, chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, mono, herpes, hepatitis, or other chronic viral condition) (YES – 5, NO – 0)
  • Cold hands or feet and trouble staying warm
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Decreased sense of taste or smell
  • Dermatitis or itchy skin
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing (brain fog)
  • Difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or lump in the throat
  • Difficulty with exercise
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry eyes, mouth, or skin
  • Family members have autoimmune conditions (YES – 5, NO – 0, multiple – 10)
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feeling puffy or inflamed
  • Food allergies/ sensitivities
  • Food and sound sensitivities (YES – 5, NO – 0)
  • Headaches
  • Heat intolerance and/ or sun sensitivity
  • Heaviness in limbs, loss of muscle tone
  • I was diagnosed with 1 Autoimmune disease (YES – 30, NO – 0)
  • I was diagnosed with 2 or more Autoimmune diseases (YES – 50, NO – 0)
  • IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, or both
  • Loss of outer third of eyebrow
  • Morning stiffness
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Night sweats
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia (YES – 10, NO – 0)
  • Periodontal infections or gum issues
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rashes, hives, and skin issues of unknown origin
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Overweight
  • Unexplained low-grade fever
  • Weakness and/or tremor
  • White patches on skin or inside of the mouth

WOMEN ONLY

  • I am a woman (YES – 10, NO – 0)
  • I have heavy and painful periods ((YES – 10, NO – 0)
  • I have infertility (YES – 10, NO – 0)
  • I have had multiple miscarriages (YES – 10, NO – 0)

YOUR AUTOIMMUNE SCORE

1-30:

Very Low Risk. If some of the symptoms you are experiencing are aggravating, make it a priority to speak with your doctor or holistic practitioner to find out if they could be caused by other conditions. Make lifestyle and diet modifications that help to reduce your risk.

31-60:

Low Risk. This is the silent autoimmunity stage. You may have antibodies present, but you are not experiencing disruptive symptoms. If you are suffering from autoimmune disease, ask your doctor to order these lab tests. Remove gluten and dairy from your diet.

61-100:

Moderate Risk. There is a high chance that some of your symptoms may be caused by an autoimmune reaction. At this stage, lifestyle and diet intervention can significantly improve the quality of your life. Order these lab tests and switch to the Autoimmune Paleo Diet. Order the food sensitivity testing (contact us to order) to find out which foods trigger the autoimmune response.

Over 101:

High Risk. You have an autoimmune disease, or your current symptoms make diagnosis very likely. Form a healthcare providers team (if you don’t already have one) and consider changes immediately to improve the quality of your life. Order these lab tests, begin the Autoimmune Paleo Diet, remove emotional and physical stress, and seek support from your friends and family. Connect with others who have the same condition and share your experience with them. If you live in a big city, consider moving into a cleaner area closer to the ocean or a park. Replace high impact exercise with yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, or walking.