Thursday, December 27, 2012

Article # 160. How do I find out if I have an autoimmune disease?

How do I find out if I have an autoimmune disease?
Getting a diagnosis can be a long and stressful process. Although each autoimmune disease is unique, many share some of the same symptoms. And many symptoms of autoimmune diseases are the same for other types of health problems too. This makes it hard for doctors to find out if you really have an autoimmune disease, and which one it might be. But if you are having symptoms that bother you, it's important to find the cause. Don't give up if you're not getting any answers. You can take these steps to help find out the cause of your symptoms:
·         Write down a complete family health history that includes extended family and share it with your doctor.
·         Record any symptoms you have, even if they seem unrelated, and share it with your doctor.
·         See a specialist who has experience dealing with your most major symptom. For instance, if you have symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, start with a gastroenterologist. Ask your regular doctor, friends, and others for suggestions.
·         Get a second, third, or fourth opinion (PDF, 262 KB) if need be. If your doctor doesn't take your symptoms seriously or tells you they are stress-related or in your head, see another doctor.


Are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia autoimmune diseases?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (feye-broh-meye-AL-juh) (FM) are not autoimmune diseases. But they often have symptoms of some autoimmune disease, like being tired all the time and pain.
·         CFS can cause you to be very tired, have trouble concentrating, feel weak, and have muscle pain. Symptoms of CFS come and go. The cause of CFS is not known.
·         FM is a disorder in which pain or tenderness is felt in multiple places all over the body. These "tender points" are located on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs and are painful when pressure is applied to them. Other symptoms include fatigue, trouble sleeping, and morning stiffness. FM mainly occurs in women of childbearing age. But children, the elderly, and men are sometimes can also get it. The cause is not known.

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