6 Autoimmune Diseases

6 Autoimmune Diseases That Mess With Your Weight

KARA WAHLGREN

Autoimmune diseases happen when your body’s immune system starts attacking its own organs, tissues, and cells. Although they’re on the rise, they’re also tricky to diagnose. Symptoms can creep up slowly, and many of them—like achy joints, fatigue, and tummy troubles—overlap with other disorders.
But there’s one symptom that many autoimmune diseases share: weight changes. “Almost everyone with an autoimmune disorder has it affect their weight one way or the other,” says Mark Engelman, MD, a clinical consultant for Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical lab specializing in functional immunology.

So if the number on the scale suddenly goes up or down with no good explanation, take stock of whether you’ve experienced any other weird, nagging symptoms, and talk to your doctor if you think an autoimmune disease could be to blame.  While Engelman notes that just about any autoimmune disease can affect your weight to some extent, here are a few of the most common culprits.

Type 1 diabetes

Of the 29 million Americans who have diabetes, only around 1.25 million have type 1, which occurs when the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. (Type 2 diabetes, the more common form, is not considered an autoimmune illness.) Because insulin plays a key role in how your body uses and stores glucose for energy, many people with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes experience unexplained weight loss. If you’re having any other symptoms—like excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, or blurred vision—talk with a doctor.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Weight gain isn’t technically a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s common for people with RA to see the number on the scale start creeping upward. The steroids commonly used to reduce inflammation can cause weight gain and water retention, and the symptoms—joint tenderness, stiffness, and fatigue—can make it hard to maintain your normal activity level. But Engelman says patients often get discouraged when they can’t work out at “warrior” level and end up doing nothing at all. “Put your sneakers on, and walk for 15 minutes or half an hour at a reasonable pace,” he says.

Celiac disease

We hear a lot about gluten sensitivity these days, but only around 1% of the population actually has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten causes the immune system to attack the cells of the small intestine. People with celiac “don’t absorb food well, so they’re frequently thin,” Engelman says. Other symptoms can vary greatly, but may include abdominal pain, bloating, headaches, joint pain, or anemia. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to screen for it—just be aware that you have to be consuming gluten for the screening to work properly, so call your doctor before attempting a DIY elimination diet…..

Read more: https://www.prevention.com/health/6-autoimmune-diseases-that-mess-with-your-weight/slide/3

Source: Prevention Today