info@ariaintegrativemedicine.com

Category Archives: Chronic Inflammation

Do I Have an Autoimmune Disease?

Do I Have an Autoimmune Disease?

One of the biggest questions we get asked in our clinic is whether or not someone has an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are not easy things to diagnose. But if you know you have a lot of inflammation, it’s worth getting a thorough work up for an autoimmune disease. Here we will walk through the process of that work up.

Symptoms of an Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases are difficult to diagnose because there are many symptoms that are present. Symptoms also differ from person to person with the same disease as well. Conditions can often be misdiagnosed if the symptoms are vague. Here are some common symptoms that can be present in autoimmune diseases.

Musculoskeletal Symptoms: joint pain, joint swelling, joint stiffness, muscle weakness, muscle pain/aching.

Skin Symptoms: rashes, redness, thickening of skin, blisters, flaking, itching, dryness.

Hormone Symptoms: changes in menstrual cycles, blood sugar, mood, urination, insomnia.

Intestinal Symptoms: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, mucus in stool, blood in stool, abdominal pain.

Respiratory Symptoms: difficulty breathing, chest pain, asthma, wheezing.

Neurologic Symptoms: weakness, numbness, tingling, brain fog, difficulty with balance.

General Symptoms: hair loss, nail changes, fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, dry mouth, ringing in ears, hearing loss.

Testing for Autoimmune Diseases

Testing for autoimmune diseases is complicated. It used to be assumed that all autoimmune diseases could be diagnosed with blood tests. But this is not always the case. Some conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lupus have antibodies that are commonly elevated in the blood. Elevation of those antibodies will aid in the diagnosis of those conditions.

Other conditions like psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, or multiple sclerosis do not have antibodies that you can measure in the blood. Diagnosing these conditions takes a thorough assessment of the symptoms as well as imaging or biopsy.

Imaging can be really important for autoimmune diseases. Imaging like x-rays or MRIs can help to determine whether or not an autoimmune disease is likely in the joints. Biopsies are helpful for conditions in the thyroid, intestines and skin.

But because diagnosis can’t happen with testing alone, a knowledgeable physician that can take all these things into consideration is important.

Making the Diagnosis

Diagnosing an autoimmune condition is often complicated. It requires a combination of symptoms, lab testing, imaging or biopsies. Ruling out other conditions is also important.

Some autoimmune diseases cannot be definitively diagnosed. If all testing is normal, and symptoms are not strong enough to fit within a neat diagnosis, sometimes a presumptive diagnosis can be made. Some things to take into consideration when trying to make a diagnosis:

Is there inflammation? The immune system is always involved in autoimmune diseases. If you think that your condition is inflammatory, then this is a good first start.

Are multiple systems involved or just one? Some autoimmune diseases only affect one area, like the thyroid. Other autoimmune diseases affect the entire body (systemic) like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. If you think your symptoms are isolated to a certain area or the entire body it can help you narrow down a diagnosis.

Does anyone in your family have an autoimmune disease? Autoimmune diseases run in families. If your grandma had rheumatoid arthritis, or your mother had a thyroid issue, then your risk is higher. Also, if you already have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to have a different autoimmune disease.

If you think you have an autoimmune disease, get worked up by your doctor. If you get a work up that you don’t think is complete, get a second opinion! Our clinic specializes in autoimmune diseases. We can help decode symptoms and conditions. If you have questions, you can contact our office to schedule a free 15 min consult.

Looking for more information on autoimmune diseases? Get our FREE ebook The 5 Foundations of Autoimmune Diseases, register for one of our FREE online webinars, or check out our blog for additional articles.

Understanding Antibodies: IgA

Understanding Antibodies: IgA

This is part 3 of 4 of our Understanding Antibodies segment. See our previous blog posts on IgM and IgG antibodies if you are just catching up before we dive into IgA antibodies! Immune System Scouts Unlike IgM and IgG antibodies, IgA antibodies are the antibodies that reside primarily in mucous membranes and secretions.  ThisContinue Reading

COVID-19 and Autoimmune Diseases

COVID-19 and Autoimmune Diseases

One of the main questions I have received since the COVID-19 pandemic started is “am I more susceptible to complications from COVID-19 if I have an autoimmune disease.” Initially I had a hard time answering this question because we didn’t have answers. New viruses are tricky. And initially there was not a lot of evidenceContinue Reading

Testosterone and Autoimmune Diseases

Testosterone and Autoimmune Diseases

This is part 4 of our 4-part series in how hormones affect autoimmune diseases. Testosterone is an important hormone in the male and female body. It is similar to the female counterpart, progesterone. This hormone is made in the testicles and the adrenal gland. It has a lot of effects in the human body thatContinue Reading

Alternative Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Alternative Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the US. It affects 10-18% of people over the age of 60. While there is some inflammation, this form of arthritis is mostly from degenerative changes over time. This can be from overuse trauma, or even from damage from other inflammatory arthritis conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Many people with inflammatory arthritis also have osteoarthritis. Treatments for osteoarthritis are often different than those for other arthritis conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Things like exercise and strengthening can be extremely helpful. To learn more about ways in which to treat osteoarthritis, click the link below.

#arthritis #osteoarthritis #alternativemedicine #naturopathicmedicine #herbalmedicine #jointpain #jointhealthContinue Reading

Alcohol and Autoimmune Diseases

Alcohol and Autoimmune Diseases

You can’t talk about health and not talk to people about alcohol consumption. Alcohol is as prevalent in our society as stress, hamburgers and weird looking dogs. There is a lot of controversy around drinking alcohol and whether it benefits or hinders a person’s health. And when people talk to me about their diet, oneContinue Reading

Intermittent Fasting for Autoimmune Diseases

Intermittent Fasting for Autoimmune Diseases

Intermittent Fasting is a hot topic these days. But can it be used for autoimmune diseases? Yes!

Intermittent fasting can be used to help reduce flares, improve pain and help reduce inflammation long term.

Learn more about intermittent fasting and how it can help your autoimmune symptoms in our new blog post!Continue Reading

Should People with Autoimmune Diseases get the Flu Shot?

Should People with Autoimmune Diseases get the Flu Shot?

I get asked this question A LOT. But before I go on to tell you my thoughts about the flu shot, I want to be clear that I am NOT against vaccinations. I support vaccinations when they are necessary, especially when they provide herd immunity that can eradicate or greatly reduce the chances of peopleContinue Reading

Serotonin and Fibromyalgia

Serotonin and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (fibro) is a condition that has become more common in the last 10-20 years. It used to be thought that fibro was a made-up condition.  While we don’t necessarily know exactly what causes fibro, we do know that there are several factors that can play a role in its progression. Diagnosis and symptoms CurrentlyContinue Reading

Alternative Therapies for Gout

Alternative Therapies for Gout

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that occurs from the precipitation of uric acid into the joint space. It affects more than 3% of the population and is more common in men than in women. This is because uric acid levels in the blood are generally higher in men than in women. Other things that increaseContinue Reading