Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t for old peopleI'm-friday/Shutterstock
This isn’t your grandmother’s arthritis: RA affects younger people and is caused by inflammation in the joints, not wear and tear like older people’s arthritis. With RA, your body attacks its own healthy joint tissue, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, most commonly in the small joints of the hands and feet. Although it’s not the debilitating condition it once was, meds are necessary to slow the progression of this incurable disease. These might include “disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs” like methotrexate, and “biologic agents” like Humira that block immune signals. Low-impact exercise is also very important to increase muscle strength and reduce pressure on your joints. Fortunately, “rheumatoid arthritis may actually be decreasing,” Dr. Somers says. More good news for people recently diagnosed with RA: A new study from the U.K. showed that those who got treatment within six months of the onset of symptoms had very good long-term outcomes.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has an easy fixAlbina-Glisic/Shutterstock
In this autoimmune condition, the body attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to become underactive (hypothyroidism). According to the American Thyroid Association, as with other autoimmune-related diseases Hashimoto’s symptoms may come on gradually and be very non-specific. They include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, depression, and muscle aches. You may also develop a swelling, called a goiter, in the thyroid, located at the front of the neck. Luckily, a blood test for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) can detect if your levels are low, and thyroid hormone replacement meds are very effective and have no side effects. Another thyroid-related autoimmune condition is Graves’ disease, which causes your thyroid to be overactive (hyperthyroid). Should you get your thyroid hormone levels checked?
Celiac disease can have lasting damageGayvoronskaya_Yana/Shutterstock
The trigger for celiac disease is clear: When you eat gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) the body attacks the small intestine, causing long-term damage that could prevent the absorption of nutrients. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it’s also genetic, so having an immediate family member with it gives you a 1 in 10 chance of developing the condition yourself. Although adults might have digestive symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating, more than half do not, according to the Mayo Clinic. Instead, symptoms may include anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, depression, or skin rash. Treatment is a gluten-free diet, and since there are so many hidden places to find gluten (including non-foods like vitamins, lipstick, and toothpaste), it’s important to work with a dietitian to help you along. Another tummy-related autoimmune condition is inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. How is celiac disease linked with an eating disorder?