According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), there are more than 100 known autoimmune diseases. While some have unique, specific symptoms, for many of these conditions, there are striking similarities. In particular, a few signs of autoimmune disease can manifest early on, potentially even years before a formal diagnosis. Here are a few early signs of autoimmune disease.

Weight Changes
If your weight is fluctuating even without changes to your diet or exercise patterns, take note. This symptom could point to autoimmune issues such as hypothyroidism, in which the production of key hormones causes weight gain. 

Fatigue
Another common indicator of autoimmune disease is fatigue. It’s the most common symptom reported by people with autoimmune disorders, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. Experts believe the root cause of this symptom is widespread inflammation, which can affect oxygen and nutrient supply, metabolism, and mood.

Skin Changes
Rashes can be seen in autoimmune diseases such as lupus. In this condition, patients often notice a butterfly-shaped rash, which usually appears on the face. While the rash is an indication of inflammation affecting the skin, it can also spread elsewhere, such as the joints and organs.

Muscle or Joint Pain
While joint pain can develop from long-term wear and tear, unexplained joint pain could indicate an immune system issue. The symptom is a hallmark trait of both rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example.

Digestive Issues
Digestive changes such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas can be attributed to poor eating patterns, but prolonged symptoms without dietary changes can suggest autoimmune issues. In irritable bowel disorders, these symptoms can indicate intestinal issues that require long-term care.

Symptoms of autoimmune conditions often mimic the signs of other conditions and illnesses. Unfortunately, many of these conditions don’t have a single test that can confirm a diagnosis. For this reason, it will be important to work closely with your doctor to discuss symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and testing methods. 

Patients today who are diagnosed are looking into other alternative treatment options. One of those options is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy. Stem cells are naturally found within the body and have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into specialized cell types. They act as the body’s natural repair kit and also have anti-inflammatory properties. If you are interested then contact a care coordinator today!

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