So You Got an Autoimmune Diagnosis, Now What?
Do you have an autoimmune diagnosis and feel nervous about what this means for your future? You’re not alone, and please don’t despair. Here we help you understand what an autoimmune diagnosis means, and how you can address it with an integrative approach. This means using the best of conventional medicine to track and manage your condition, and the best of holistic functional medicine to regulate your immune cells, control your inflammation, and even reverse this condition.
Is an autoimmune diagnosis permanent?
The bad news is, yes. Once your immune system creates T cells that tag your body tissue as a foreign invader, those“memory” cells are there forever. But, the good news is that you can do all sorts of things to regulate your immune system so that these memory cells become dormant. This is the key – what we call dormancy, latency, or remission.
Why try to get an autoimmune diagnosis into remission?
There are so many motivating reasons to work toward remission! Here are six darn good reasons:
- Reduce symptoms and feel better.
- Stop the active tissue destruction that comes with autoimmunity.
- Lower the need for risky medications.
- Feel empowered and confident.
- Decrease other inflammatory conditions – even ones that are not autoimmune.
- Prevent new autoimmune conditions from popping up.
The last reason (preventing new autoimmune conditions) may be a new concept for you. Did you know that once you have one autoimmune disease, your chances of developing more of them are much higher? This is especially true when there’s uncontrolled inflammation, like when you are in a “flare.” When your immune system is actively in self-attack mode, it can more easily start to attack additional types of self-tissue (a process called “epitope spreading”). Preventing this is a good idea.
Remission is absolutely something you can work towards. It usually takes an integrative approach that includes changes in diet and lifestyle.
Conventional care for an autoimmune diagnosis
Use conventional care to track and manage your condition. The treatment is medication to suppress your immune system and treat symptoms.
Autoimmune disease is an immune condition, not a body part condition. However we don’t get referred to an immune specialist, we get referred to a body part specialist:
- For rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, you see a rheumatologist.
- With Hashimoto’s or diabetes, you see an endocrinologist.
- For multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis, you see a neurologist.
Find a specialist that listens to you and whom you trust. They will help you with medications to manage your condition, as well as blood tests and scans to monitor disease activity. Medications are used to manage symptoms, suppress your immune system, or replace hormones that are low or missing because of autoimmunity.
Holistic functional care for an autoimmune diagnosis
Use holistic functional care to regulate your immune cells, control your inflammation, and even reverse this condition. The toolkit includes investigative labs, anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, and targeted herbs and supplements.
In functional medicine, you can find a practitioner who specializes in holistic immune health rather than just a single autoimmune condition or body part. You see, autoimmunity involves the same T cell and cytokine response no matter what body tissue is being attacked. Therefore we address all autoimmune cases with a similar approach.
We operate on the theory that there are three conditions that exist in order for autoimmunity to occur:
- A genetic susceptibility
- An original trigger
- Intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut)
Here is the step-by-step approach we take in our practice to help you get into remission:
Dr. Laura’s ROADMap to remission:
Ready to start healing?
Please reach out, this is my specialty!
Dr. Laura Paris, DACM is an Institute for Functional Medicine certified practitioner who specializes in the intersection of autoimmunity, inflammation, and female hormones. She helps women take charge of their immune health, reverse chronic inflammation, and get into remission and stay there.
Question: I had Long Covid and had a positive ANA several times over the last 2 years but no further signs of R.A. (which the tests pointed to). I did a medically supervised water fast and my ANA is now testing negative. Would this be considered being in remission?
I gauge remission by both bloodwork markers and symptoms. ANA being negative is definitely a positive sign.