Why is it Difficult to Diagnose an Autoimmune Disease?

Millions of people live with a diagnosed autoimmune disease. These diseases can cause symptoms that disrupt people’s lives and cause a lot of discomfort and complications throughout their lifetime. But autoimmune diseases are sometimes challenging to diagnose. Many people live with symptoms for years before finally receiving a diagnosis that allows them to get effective treatment. 

This article will explore why it can be tricky to diagnose an autoimmune disease and some things you can do to manage any symptoms you have. 

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

Your immune system is designed to protect you from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. An autoimmune disease means that your immune system mistakenly identifies your body’s own cells as foreign invaders and attacks them. This immune response can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, fatigue, swollen glands, and digestive issues.

Common Autoimmune Diseases

There are over 100 known autoimmune diseases. The most common include:

  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Symptoms of an Autoimmune Disease

The type of autoimmune disease you have will determine what kind of symptoms you experience. However, some symptoms are common in many autoimmune diseases, including:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Skin issues

Many autoimmune diseases also include inflammation as a common symptom, which causes swelling and pain in different parts of the body.  

Why is it Difficult to Diagnose an Autoimmune Disease?

Many people with an autoimmune disease may live with their symptoms for years without a proper diagnosis, and some receive an inaccurate diagnosis at some point in their journey. So, what makes it so challenging to diagnose these conditions?

Diagnosing an autoimmune disease can be challenging because symptoms are often generalized. Many symptoms, including fatigue, muscle aches, and digestive problems, are associated with a wide range of conditions. Doctors may not run the tests necessary for diagnosing autoimmune diseases, and many patients don’t know what tests to ask for. 

Advocating For Yourself to Get a Diagnosis

If you believe your symptoms are caused by an autoimmune disease, don’t take a backseat in your healthcare. Advocate for yourself by asking your doctor to run an antinuclear antibody test (ANA) and an immunoglobulins blood test. These tests can help identify any issues with your immune system and create a clearer picture of what may be causing your symptoms.

While these tests can help you identify an autoimmune disease, they can’t tell you exactly what condition you have. 

What to Do if You Have an Autoimmune Disease

Your first step must be finding a doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease specialist will have the expertise and experience to provide a proper diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan.

 You can also make lifestyle changes to help reduce the severity or frequency of your symptoms, including:

  • Avoiding inflammatory foods
  • Eating a nutrient-dense diet
  • Identifying and avoiding triggers
  • Eating mostly organic foods
  • Reducing stress
  • Practicing complementary medicine like acupuncture and chiropractic care
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking

Find An Autoimmune Specialist in Denver

If you have fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, or other signs of inflammation, you may be living with an autoimmune disease. Find an autoimmune specialist Denver by contacting Dr. Harrison’s Center for Functional Medicine. Don’t just live with your symptoms–get a diagnosis and start treating them today.