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Signs You Have an Autoimmune Disease, Like Carrie Ann Inaba

Is your body attacking itself? It's shockingly common.

American TV watchers were bummed on Monday when Carrie Ann Inaba, the well-known Dancing With the Stars judge and co-host of The Talk, announced she was taking a break from the afternoon chat show to deal with various health challenges, including an autoimmune condition known as Sjogren's syndrome.

Inaba's announcement was surprising, yet sadly familiar, as autoimmune disorders like lupus have increasingly become part of the public conversation in recent years; singer Selena Gomez and TV host Nick Cannon have both disclosed they suffer from that condition. Six years ago, Inaba was diagnosed with Sjogren's, an incurable immune disorder that can cause pain and fatigue. She also reportedly lives with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause pain and numbness, and the nerve disorder fibromyalgia.

Autoimmune disorders include a wide spectrum of issues caused when the immune system overreacts by attacking the body's own tissue. Women are more likely than men to be affected. Here are the most common signs that you're suffering from the most common autoimmune conditions. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


Muscle Aches

Woman's hands hold back spine suffering pain wear.

"The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling," says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Autoimmune diseases can affect the muscles, leading to aches that feel like you've overdone it at the gym even if you haven't left the couch. 


Joint Pain and Swelling

Asian woman suffering from pain in bone against gray background

This may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis, a common autoimmune disorder caused when the immune system attacks the linings of the joints, causing painful swelling.  Smaller joints tend to be affected first, followed by larger joints. But about 40 percent of people affected by rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms that don't involve the joints at all. "In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels," says the Mayo Clinic.


Dry Eyes or Mouth

Tired mature woman take off glasses suffering from headache

According to the Mayo Clinic, Sjogren's syndrome is most commonly signified by dry eyes and a dry mouth, which occurs when the disorder affects the mucous membranes, drying them out. Sjogren's is often accompanied by other immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. People with Sjogren's might also experience joint pain or stiffness or swollen glands.



Sick young woman lying in the bed covered with blanket

The experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine say that fatigue is a common symptom of autoimmune disease. "If you've been healthy and suddenly you feel fatigue or joint stiffness, don't downplay that," says Ana-Maria Orbai, M.D., M.H.S., a rheumatologist at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. "Telling your doctor helps him or her to look closer at your symptoms and run tests to either identify or rule out autoimmune disease."

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Skin Problems


Skin issues are a common sign of autoimmune disorders. A red rash on the skin, known as the "butterfly rash" is often found in lupus. In the skin condition known as psoriasis, the body's skin-production cells go into overdrive; this can cause rough, red patches or silvery scales on the skin as cells are produced faster than the body can shed them naturally. A related condition is psoriatic arthritis, in which joint pain, redness and swelling accompany the skin scaling. This is treatable with medication. Contact a medical professional if you have any of these symptoms, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael