I believe most people today have elevated levels of inflammation. I’ve noticed that even people who consider themselves healthy sometimes have more or less severe symptoms – some just think it’s normal. MD and autoimmunity expert Amy Myers goes as far as claiming that “over 90 percent of the population suffers from inflammation or an autoimmune disorder” in her book The Autoimmune Solution. She refers to the American population, but I doubt the rest of us are far behind.
There are several ways you can have an inflammatory condition without knowing it.
- You might have been diagnosed with a condition but haven’t been told that it’s autoimmune/inflammatory. If you have a diagnosis and suspect this is the case, here is a comprehensive list of autoimmune conditions (a list that keeps growing longer).
- You might have consulted a doctor about your symptoms but didn’t get a diagnosis, or didn’t get any help at all, or was simply told it was psychosomatic and to go see a psychiatrist.
- You might have actually forgotten what feels like to be healthy. You might think your fatigue/joint pain/restless leg syndrome/stiffness etc. is normal or just happens for no reason. It does not. It’s common to be tired all the time, but it is not normal.
Inflammation is so common and manifest in such diverse ways that if you experience any troubling symptoms at all, chances are inflammation is involved (there are of course obvious exceptions, like a broken bone). You might not consider your symptoms particularly troublesome at this time. However, elevated inflammation increases the risk of developing a more serious condition later in life. Many with an autoimmune disease often have a plethora of other symptoms and are sometimes diagnosed with a second, third or even fourth autoimmune condition. I’m a perfect example myself. Besides the condition I was finally diagnosed with, I had a number of other issues that were really bothering me. I also had a whole range of minor health problems I considered annoyances but nothing serious. Now, virtually all of them are gone. I thought they were just something I had to live with, but it turned out they were all caused by inflammation and by fighting the sources I could get rid of them.
Did you know that the following conditions have a major inflammatory component and/or are associated with a dysregulated immune system?
Fatigue (which can’t be explained by lack of sleep)
Chronically runny nose
Weight loss resistance
Headaches and migraines
PMS & menstrual cycle disturbances
Mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders
At this point you may wonder why different people end up with such different diagnoses and symptoms, if it’s all because of inflammation. The answer must be that each and every one of us has unique genetic predispositions, lives our lives differently and is exposed to a unique combination of environmental factors. To give an example: if you suffer from a particular infection like Borrelia spp (which causes Lyme disease), your symptoms may very well differ substantially from someone else infected with the same bacteria. This is because of variations in the severity of infection, duration of the infection, the particular Borrelia strain, where in particular the bacteria resides in your body, the presence of other co-infections, the general state of your immune system, your nutritional circumstances, your genetic make-up, the presence of toxic substances and so forth. While one person may experience mostly neurological manifestations, another might get rheumatic symptoms, a third mainly fatigue, a fourth depression, etc. A fifth may even have such a mild infection that they’re not affected.
When things get this complex, the blunt instruments typical of the modal doctor’s appointment fall short. Instead, one should listen to the patients carefully, take a thorough history and prescribe the right tests.