An autoimmune disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. It’s a name for a series of conditions in which your immune system mistakenly starts attacking healthy cells within your body. This can include your skin, joints, pancreas, nervous system, hair, blood vessels, digestive tract, thyroid and more.
The symptoms vary widely and often match a range of other common conditions, so it’s very common that they go undetected for long periods of time. On top of that, there is no test available to get a conclusive diagnosis, so doctors have to draw on their knowledge and experience.
If you suspect you may have an autoimmune disease, it’s important to work with a doctor who specializes in treating these types of conditions because they’ll be able to help you find the answers you need. For this reason, consider scheduling an appointment with a functional medicine doctor, because they take a holistic approach to uncovering the root cause of an illness and restoring health.
Here at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we help people reclaim their health and happiness. Our passionate team will provide the tools you need to take charge of your well-being and make life-long changes. We’re based in Johnson City, Tennessee, but we work with people from all over the Tri-Cities area and beyond. This includes Bristol, Kingsport, Knoxville, Greeneville, Elizabethton, Morristown and Abingdon in Virginia.
Want to skip ahead and schedule an appointment? Contact us today.
How Do You Get an Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases affect about 23 million Americans, the majority of whom are women. Scientists still don’t know why women are affected more than men. One theory is that childbearing hormones make women more susceptible – however, this is yet to be proven definitively.
They can affect anyone at any time. They usually start because the body senses danger and fires up the immune system to respond to a virus or infection. They become problematic when healthy tissue is caught in the crossfire. Sometimes, the immune system doesn’t know when to stop. This can occur in response to high levels of stress, inflammation in the body, lifestyle risk factors, genetic risk factors, environmental triggers, and a whole range of other reasons.
Conventional medicine is great at treating acute illnesses and injuries, but it struggles to treat chronic illnesses like autoimmune diseases. Medication can mask the symptoms, but it may not be able to treat the cause and will need to be taken for the rest of your life to keep you comfortable.
Functional medicine doctors, on the other hand, take the time to get to know you to figure out exactly what’s going on inside your body and why. This is key to diagnosing your autoimmune disease and creating an effective treatment plan for the long-term.
Ready to try a new approach? Watch our free on-demand webinar.
What Are Some Common Autoimmune Diseases?
Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body. Many share symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, and general aches and pains. You might also have swollen glands, recurring fevers, skin problems, and digestive issues. However, each type has distinct symptoms that are critical to making a diagnosis. These are some of the most common ones we treat at our clinic:
- Type 1 diabetes: This affects the pancreas and can be deadly if untreated. Antibodies attack and destroy insulin-producing cells, affecting the body’s ability to convert food to energy.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This affects joint linings and causes painful inflammation and swelling. It can cause permanent damage if left untreated, so it’s important to be proactive.
- Celiac disease: This is triggered by eating gluten and severely impacts digestion. It can cause bloating, anemia, and even chronic conditions like osteoporosis.
- Multiple sclerosis: This causes lesions on the protective layers around the nerves. Over time, MS can cause symptoms like blindness, muscle spasms, and poor coordination.
- Alopecia: This occurs when the body attacks hair follicles. It can cause baldness over the head, face, and body and can affect both men and women.
- Lupus: This disease can affect many different tissues and organs in the body, including the kidneys, heart, lungs, nerves, blood cells, and even the brain.
- Crohn’s disease: This causes inflammation in the digestive tract with severe pain. It can cause chronic symptoms including diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition.
- Vasculitis: This affects the blood vessels and can cut off supply to vital organs. Symptoms can vary widely, depending on the organs affected, which makes every case unique.
- Psoriasis: This autoimmune disease affects the skin. Antibodies collect in the skin and produce thick, scaly cells to develop. It can be itchy and very uncomfortable.
Functional medicine takes a groundbreaking approach to restoring health that treats each person as a whole instead of a collection of symptoms. Our team is here to reduce pain, boost energy, ease digestion, and find answers to the issues that are troubling you. It’s time to step into a new world of possibilities, which starts by finding out what’s triggering your symptoms.
Interested in functional medicine? Learn more about our approach.
Learn How to Take Back Control of Your Health
Treating an autoimmune disease is a long and complicated process that requires a genuine partnership between physician and patient. In our experience, the best way to address all aspects of your well-being, while working towards your health goals, is to enroll in one of our programs. This is where we’ll teach you everything you need to resume a life of vitality again.
You’ll work with our doctor and functional medicine health coaches to put a personalized treatment plan into place that will focus on natural solutions, such as lifestyle modifications, to create long-term change. On top of that, we offer courses on the 5 Pillars of Health, Food Plans, access to our Health Library, and the Tri-Cities Functional Medicine Dispensary, where you can order all the supplements you need. Memberships also allow you to enjoy access to our Relaxation Room, Teaching Kitchen, and Full-Spectrum Infrared Sauna, which is a powerful detoxification tool.
If you’re tired to putting band-aids on complex health issues, or you’re taking multiple medications without knowing exactly what they are and how they’re supposed to be helping you, we invite you to watch a free on-demand educational webinar. This will help you get a better understanding of what’s happening in your body, what’s triggering it, and what you can do about it.
Want to learn more? Read about our great membership benefits.
Getting Answers to Autoimmune Diseases
As we said at the start, autoimmune diseases can be very difficult to diagnose. If anything you’ve read in this blog is resonating with you, the government’s Women’s Health website recommends a couple of things you can do to help your doctor make a diagnosis. These include:
- Write down a complete family health history
- Record any symptoms you have (even if they seem unrelated)
- Don’t be afraid to take charge of your health and seek a second opinion
If you’d like to learn more about the approach we take to diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases, please watch our free on-demand webinar and schedule a free discovery call. This is an opportunity to speak to one of our Practice Member Coordinators and find out whether functional medicine will be a good fit for you. We’ll talk about what you’re going through, how you’ve tried to address your health concerns in the past, how our team can help, and a plan of action.
Ready to get started? Take the first step now.