Autoimmune Mysteries Revealed
Many people are unknowingly suffering from an underlying autoimmune disease. If you, like so many out there, are suffering from some sort of chronic issue, but no one has been able to figure out the cause of your problems, it is likely that you too are suffering from some sort of autoimmune disease.
Putting it in Perspective
You probably are not aware of just how prevalent autoimmune diseases are in the modern world. Let’s put it into perspective by comparing autoimmune diseases to another very common genre of disease: cancer.
Cancer is a terrible disease. It has taken so many lives to the point that everyone knows someone who either has cancer or has died from cancer. And yet the number of people who suffer from autoimmune diseases in the United States is more than double the number of people with cancer.
On top of that, autoimmune diseases cost Americans over $100 billion each year, while the cost to treat cancers rakes in $57 million yearly. And yet cancer gets $6.1 billion of funding to research cures and treatments, while autoimmune diseases only received $591 million.
In fact, 1 in every 6 Americans will suffer from an autoimmune disease each year. In contrast, 1 in every 13 Americans will suffer from heart disease, and 1 in 33 will suffer from some form of cancer.
There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases - that we know of - and over 50 million Americans are currently suffering or treating their issues. Interestingly 75% of all autoimmune patients are women.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are when the body attacks itself. Your immune system incorrectly responds against your body’s own tissues. Your immune system is constantly analyzing everything in your body, and trying to determine if it is a “friend” or a “foe.” Your immune system errs on the side of aggression, so if it is confused then it will respond by attacking those tissues.
Think of it like your immune system getting drunk. It might recognize too much of a system or organ. Since having too many thyroids would be problematic, your immune system will decide to attack those tissues to remove the excess.
If your autoimmune disease goes undiagnosed or untreated, then your immune system response will continue to ramp up its response. The inflammation caused by your system attacking itself will further trigger an immune response, only worsening your condition.
What Forms Can Autoimmune Disease Take?
This can happen in almost any system in your body, but most commonly takes these forms:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Type 1 diabetes
The three states of autoimmune disease:
- Stage one: Silent autoimmunity. In this stage, you have elevated levels of antibodies, but no symptoms.
- Stage two: Autoimmune reactivity. In this stage, you have symptoms, but no noticeable loss of tissue.
- Stage three: Autoimmune disease. In this final stage, you have elevated antibodies, symptoms, and tissue destruction.
For example, the vast majority of people who have hypothyroidism have an autoimmune disease. They will often see that their dose increases over time. This is because their thyroid has lost tissue, which lowers the amount of thyroid hormones it can produce.
Red Flags for Autoimmune Disease
Number 1: Nothing has cured you of your complaints or symptoms. If you have gone from doctor to doctor, or tried multiple different diets, but found little to no relief, then it is likely you have an autoimmune disease.
Number 2: Various treatments have helped at various times. Sometimes you have flares and periods of remission. If you have experienced small periods of relief, or spikes in symptoms during some form of treatment, it may be that your problems are autoimmune-related.
Number 3: Multiple sensitivities to foods, chemicals, smells, etc. Allergies and sensitivities show that your body is unable to properly regulate, likely due to an autoimmune issue.
Number 4: Numerous diagnoses from multiple doctors. One doctor may have an idea of what is going on, and another may disagree. If you have gone from doctor to doctor or received multiple diagnoses for the same symptoms, then it is likely your problem is autoimmune in nature.
Number 5: You have had tons of lab work done and you take a ton of supplements. If you find that you are taking a wide range of supplements to treat specific symptoms or issues found in your lab work, then it may be that you have an autoimmune disease affecting multiple systems.
Number 6: You have been diagnosed with a condition, but do not know that it could be autoimmune-related. Common conditions that are frequently associated with autoimmune diseases include:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- B-12 Anemia
- Non-viral Hepatitis
- Gluten Sensitivity
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Meniere’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
How to Identify Autoimmune Disease
The best way I have found to determine whether or not someone is suffering from an autoimmune disease is to do some blood work and check markers. For example, a Rheumatoid Factor reading above 14 is generally a sign of autoimmune disease, in this case, it takes the form of rheumatoid arthritis.
Other markers you should check out include:
- Antinuclear Antibodies, or ANA. (Ratio should be less than 1:80)
- Thyroid antibodies. (TPO should be lower than 34, and thyroglobulin should be below 0.9)
- Anti-Microglia, a type of antibody that frequently attacks the central nervous system. (Levels should be lower than 10)
- Anti-Recoverin, which also attacks the central nervous system. (Levels also should be lower than 10)
- Blood Brain Barrier permeability. (Range should be around 0.4-1.3)
- Myelin Basic Protein (Levels should be between 0.6-1.7)
- Cerebellar tissue (Levels should be between 0.4-1.5)
- Many more, ranging from your bones to the adrenal system.
Causes of Autoimmune Disease
There are a wide range of causes of different autoimmune diseases. Some of them are directly responsible, while others simply initiate the autoimmune response. These causes can include:
- Low vitamin D
- Poor GI health
- Poor cell membrane
- Antibiotic damage
- Food sensitivities
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood pressure
- High inflammatory markers on labs
- Mold in your system
- Heavy metals in your system
- High insulin levels
- Being pre-diabetic
- Infections, including long-term Covid or H. Pylori.
- Hormone imbalances
Treatment Options for Autoimmune Disease
With autoimmune diseases attacking such a wide array of bodily systems, there is no single treatment plan. In fact, you often will need to personally tailor your treatment to your individual circumstances. This is why getting the full gamut of blood work is very important.
If you do not take the time to get the full range of tests done, you probably will not be able to find relief. Think of it like a fishing net: the wider your net, the more issues you might catch. As you find out more information, you can more easily come up with a guided plan for treatment.
If you want to get these tests done, reach out to me. I will work with you to identify what exactly is causing your problems, and how you can treat them. Reach out to me through my website, set up a consultation, and we can get you set on a path to wellness.