Mysterious symptoms? Investigate autoimmunity

Autoimmune disease is one of the most common disorders we see in functional medicine. It is also the cause of many “mysterious” symptoms and disorders conventional medicine often overlooks.

Autoimmunity is a degenerative condition that can affect any tissue in the body or brain. It happens when the immune system mistakes a part of the body as a foreign invader to attack or destroy instead of protect.

Some of the more widely known autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis.

Statistics for autoimmune disease are alarming — it affects a reported one in five people, the majority of them women. There are more cases of autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease combined.

However, these numbers only tell a small slice of the story as most autoimmune diseases go undiagnosed until they are in a debilitating advanced stage. Until then, many people go years or decades with symptoms and increasing tissue destruction.  Some may go a lifetime with autoimmune damage and symptoms but never receive a diagnosis.

A tissue or organ must be almost completely destroyed before conventional medicine can diagnose it as an autoimmune disease and prescribe steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgery.

This is important to understand because the number of people suffering from autoimmunity is actually much higher than statistics relay.

For instance, a person who has undiagnosed autoimmunity to the pancreas may wonder why she can never keep her blood sugar stable despite eating a good diet. In fact, an estimated 10 percent of those with type 2 diabetes, which is caused by poor lifestyle and diet, also have autoimmune attacks to the pancreas and “silent” type 1 diabetes autoimmunity.

 

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is another example. Doctors give patients thyroid hormone in doses that often increase over time, but they do not instruct patients on how to dampen or stop the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland.

A person with autoimmunity to nerve sheaths can suffer from symptoms of multiple sclerosis long before being given a diagnosis. And so on.

Until the tissue destruction is advanced enough to be labeled a disease, medicine has little or nothing to offer in the way of treatment.

 

Fortunately, however, functional medicine can offer significant relief and genuine therapy for autoimmunity. We use cutting edge lab testing to determine whether autoimmunity is causing “mysterious” symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, declining brain function, gut problems, hair loss, weight gain, depression, and more.

This information serves several purposes. Having proof for the symptoms that previous doctors have ignored can be enormously validating. Many patients have become accustomed to having their complaints belittled or dismissed. The mystery of an undiagnosed chronic condition is very stressful and disheartening for people.

Likewise, testing can also reveal autoimmunity that is not yet producing symptoms. Knowing this can empower you when it comes to making diet and lifestyle choices — allowing you to take an active role in preventing manifestation of the disease.

Lastly, knowing what is causing your symptoms can make your health protocols much more targeted and easier to measure. You also then know what additional testing you need in order to monitor your health, such as thyroid or blood sugar tests.

Why functional medicine is a good fit for autoimmune management

As a functional medicine practitioner I use a number of strategies to dampen autoimmunity, halt its progression, and relieve symptoms.

Ask my office for more information about how I can help you manage your autoimmune condition.