This shit ain’t normal
Here are some common red flags to consider. If any of these sound familiar to you, this could indicate that something is wrong in your gut.
I wrote this chapter because I see people mope and grumble about feeling sick all the time, being constipated, and struggling with an angry stomach after eating deep-fried chicken and waffles. Then they just go back to their day, assuming that it’s normal.
Truthfully, it’s not exactly my place to diagnose people and give unsolicited advice. I mean, I can’t tell my partner’s boss that it sounds like he has some GI issues and a leaky gut over our black tie dinner with a fancy bevy in hand. So, I’m giving you the lowdown here. Clue into the fact that suffering and living in pain isn’t standard.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Warning sign #1: you have bizarre symptoms that don’t link together
For me, I had all these crazy things I couldn’t connect - like tingling hands, difficulty feeling hot and cold, acne, weight gain, brittle nails, constant fatigue, brain fog, and headaches.
From my experience with the traditional medical system, I would explain my incongruous symptoms and always get brushed off or not taken seriously by the GP or specialist.
Because I didn’t have a textbook diagnosis of a rash and hives, they always thought it was something else. You are the only person that lives in your body, and only you can decipher if you’re feeling off.
Having a string of weird symptoms is a sign that something deeper is at play, like an autoimmune condition. In 2017, autoimmune disease affects 5% of the Western world and 24 million Americans. These conditions are becoming more prevalent in today’s society, but it often takes a long time to reach a diagnosis because they have hard-to-classify symptoms like pain, swelling, inflammation and overall fatigue.
If this story sounds like yours, your body may be releasing inflammatory messengers, such as cytokines and antibodies. Cytokines are cells that affect the behavior of other cells around them and antibodies neutralize pathogens like bacteria and viruses. When this happens, your immune system reacts.
When you have an immune reaction, this causes fatigue, achiness (such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis), allergies (like food allergies and eczema), and anxiety (triggered by inflammation in the nervous system).
So, if you are struggling with a variety of odd symptoms....(to be continued)
I’m demystifying some common gut-centric diseases and their symptoms and solutions. Maybe you’ve heard of these things before, but you aren’t sure what they mean and if they apply to you. I’m breaking it all down here so you don’t need to sift through medical textbooks which are as confusing as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics or scroll WebMD until you are 99.99% sure you’ve got one month to live with some crazy ass disease.
Don’t worry. Gut-rooted problems can be completely self-managed and functional living is possible. If any of these conditions sound familiar, I encourage you to dig deeper, seek treatment and diagnosis, and explore the lifestyle management strategies in this book.
What is an autoimmune disease?
To understand autoimmune conditions, we need a clear understanding of how the immune system functions. Your immune system is your defense against invaders, pathogens, and harmful microbes. It is in charge of distinguishing which bugs are good and which ones cause damage. Think superhero versus villain.
Except, if you have an autoimmune disease, your body starts to fight and attack itself. Now, think superhero versus superhero. Your system redirects its energy and attacks you instead. It will attack your skin, your small intestine, your nerve cells or any other part of your body. It misunderstands who is a friend and who is a foe, and this is how an autoimmune condition deviates from the body’s normal function.
Our immune system is constantly battling something and working in the background, whether that’s an infection, chemical toxins, food and environmental allergens, or stress. But, with an autoimmune disease, your body does all of that work plus more to battle your own cells.
Different autoimmune diseases mean that your body is attacking different things. For example:
- Say your body is attacking the myelin sheath around your nerve cells, causing damage to the nervous system. We would call this multiple sclerosis.
- If your body targets the small intestine, causing destruction to the villi, this is called celiac disease.
- If the immune cells attack the skin, causing rashes, blisters, or redness, we name it psoriasis or eczema.
- If the body is fighting the lung tissue, leading to wheezing, constricted airways, and difficulties breathing, this is called asthma.
- If the thyroid gets targeted, and thyroid function alters, it is an autoimmune thyroid condition like Hashimoto's disease.
- Lastly, if the body triggers the joints, causing pain, aches, or stiffness, we call it rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
There are 140+ autoimmune diseases. Here are some examples:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
Plus, autoimmune diseases are more common that you think:
These severe illnesses now impact over 24 million Americans. They often go misdiagnosed due to their unclear symptoms like pain, fatigue, and inflammation. So, many patients are labeled as depressed, poor sleepers, or stressed out, when truly a deeper, more serious problem is occurring. If your doctor says: “You just need to chill out” or “Nah bro, take a chill pill,” keep investigating your health. (Note: your doctor most likely will not say “chill” or “bro,” but, it makes for a better story).
What are some of the symptoms of an autoimmune disease?
- Achy joints or muscle pain
- Skin rashes, hives, redness, swelling, or irritation
- Getting sick often and picking up every cold and flu that goes around
- Low energy
- Still feeling fatigued, even after a good night’s sleep
- Troubles sleeping or restless legs
- Depression and sadness
- Stomach pain, gas, bloating
- Difficulties concentrating or focusing
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- Blot clots
- Miscarriages, irregular periods, or infertility
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Unknown weight gain or weight loss