8 Early Indicators of an Autoimmune Disease

8 Early Indicators of an Autoimmune Disease

Health & Wellness
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Your immune system is supposed to protect your body against foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses. It fights off harmful germs that shouldn’t be inside your body. Sometimes, when something goes wrong, it mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues of the body thinking that they are a threat. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. However, in an autoimmune disorder, the immune system mistakes your joints or skin as foreign. It starts producing proteins called autoantibodies that attack the healthy cells of the body.

There is no solid evidence that establishes the causes of autoimmune diseases. It is assumed that you might have them passed down in your genes from your parents, or it is triggered by something in your environment, maybe a virus. Since more women are affected by autoimmune diseases than men, many scientists believe that hormones may also have a role to play. The early symptoms of most autoimmune diseases are quite similar, and if you are aware of them, you might be able to diagnose the problem at an early stage. Here is a comprehensive list of early indicators of autoimmune disease:

1. Fatigue and Brain Fog

Feeling mentally and physically exhausted even after hours of sleep should not go unnoticed if it has been ongoing for a long time. Fatigue, tiredness, brain fog, and an inability to concentrate are early symptoms of an autoimmune disease. This fatigue is sometimes considered to be a physical manifestation of the anemia that is caused by chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a major concern in autoimmune diseases and must be taken very seriously as it triggers other issues in the body.

2. Rashes on Skin

Quite often, changes in skin become the first indicator of inflammation. Redness, itchiness, unusual rashes, or blotchy areas without any particular reason can point towards an underlying inflammation. Even acne can be a sign that something is not right internally.

If a condition of the skin prevails for a long period, it should be brought to medical attention. The autoimmune disorder, lupus, is a skin condition and can affect other organs like the brain, heart, and kidneys as well. It also produces joint pain and fatigue.

3. Low-Grade Fever

The symptoms of auto-immune diseases are very mild at the beginning. For instance, you may experience a low-grade fever quite often, but it will not amount to something that can be dangerous for your body. However, if such a condition persists longer than you expect it to, it is better to consult a medical specialist. If ignored for a long time, your body will become weak, and you will lose the necessary energy required to fight such a dangerous disease.

4. Numbness and Tingling in Hands and Feet

Tingling in the hands or feet is a very unpleasant condition, but the cause may not always be serious. However, if it persists for a long time or if it happens often, it might be the result of an underlying condition. Most of the reasons behind this sensation are temporary, but if you experience the symptom so often that it causes extreme discomfort, there are high chances that you might be suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

5. Weight Fluctuation

Some autoimmune diseases are associated with weight gain, while others cause you to lose a significant number of pounds. If your body weight keeps fluctuating, along with the presence of other symptoms, it points towards an autoimmune problem. A change in your weight without any altered diet or physical activity indicates a medical condition. If this unhealthy fluctuation continues for a long time, you must seek medical help to counter the problem.

6. Muscle or Joint Pain

Pain in muscles or joints is the most unsurprising indication of the presence of an autoimmune disorder. If you are not an athlete or a gym enthusiast who goes overboard with their physical activity, there is no other reason for your joints to hurt.

Commonly, this type of pain is linked to rheumatoid arthritis but is not limited to this autoimmune disorder. Muscle and joint pain is a symptom of lupus as well and is one of the most obvious indicators of the presence of an autoimmune disorder.

7. Discomfort of the Digestive Tract

If other symptoms are also present, discomfort of the digestive tract is an additional indicator that the immune system isn’t functioning properly. Gut issues are quite common and can be attributed to stress or bad eating but you shouldn’t wait for blood in your stool to take diarrhea seriously.

Abdominal pain, bloating, and cramps are caused by a number of other issues other than the dysfunctionality of the immune system. However, if such symptoms appear out of nowhere along with inflammation, medical help should not be delayed.

8. Hair loss

In certain cases, the cells of your immune system attack and surround your hair follicles and cause the attached hair to fall out. The more follicles your immune system attacks, the more hair loss you face. It is important to know that while this attack causes the hair to detach, it never destroys the follicle itself which allows the hair to grow back. Some autoimmune diseases also cause vitamin D deficiency in the body that also leads to intense hair fall.


People who have experienced one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms, should not delay visiting a medical practitioner. If ignored for a long time, an autoimmune disease may start attacking the vital organs in your body. The diseases have flare-ups when the pain gets worse, and remissions, when the symptoms almost disappear.

There is no permanent cure for autoimmune disease but it can be controlled with the help of medicines. The goal of any treatment is to reduce inflammation, which can also be done by the patient by improving their eating habits and adopting a healthier lifestyle. The diagnosis of an autoimmune disease is difficult, so one should be vigilant if any symptom persists for a long time.

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  1. https://www.webmd.com/women/features/life-with-autoimmune-disease#1
  2. https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/ss/slideshow-autoimmune-disease-guide
  3. https://www.findmecure.com/blog/5-early-signs-of-autoimmune-disease/
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-are-common-symptoms-of-autoimmune-disease

Dr. Derek Fox is the owner and clinic director of Fox Integrated Healthcare, LLC holding advanced training in sports chiropractic and in personal injury care that allowed him to treat MLS soccer players, NFL Football players, NBA Basketball players, NFL Cheerleaders, and many collegiate and high school athletes of all levels.