Skip to main content

Unusual Diseases Associated With Autoimmune Illness

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Effect of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Effect of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Autoimmune Diseases

There are over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases that affect numerous areas of the body. Over 4% of the world population and 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. Two of the most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints and systemic lupus erythematosus attacks the joints, skin and organs. There are treatments for these diseases but one of the problems is other diseases that also occur along with these two diseases.

An autoimmune disease causes a low or an overactive immune system. The immune system produces antibodies that actually attack your own body’s tissues. There are several autoimmune diseases that may occur along with systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Polymyositis Sjogren’s Syndrome (SS)

Sjogren's disease causes dry mouth and eyes as the moisture-producing glands do not function properly. It typically accompanies rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Most people are over 40 when they get this disease. It is difficult to diagnose as symptoms vary between different people and other diseases. Bronchiectasis is a lung disorder that may occur when you have Sjogren's disease.

Physicians will tell you to stay well hydrated and brush and floss your teeth after each meal. Using sugar free gum and products, such as Biotin will help moisturize your mouth. Use eye moisturizing drops and your doctor may prescribe eye drops, such as Restasis.

Polymysitis -  muscle biopsy

Polymysitis - muscle biopsy


Polymyositis is an uncommon inflammatory disease of the muscles. It causes muscle weakness, and it may be difficult to lift objects, climb stairs or even rise from a seated position. This disease is uncommon, but it occurs with other other autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or Sjogren’s disease. There is no cure.

Women are twice as likely to acquire this disease. Immunosuppressant drugs are usually prescribed, such as corticosteroids.

Polymyositis Treatment

The alveoli

The alveoli

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Interstitial lung disease is pulmonary fibrosis, which means there is inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs. The lungs have surrounding air sac tissue and blood vessels. This scarring causes the lungs to become stiff, which causes shortness of breath and a dry cough. It may occur with polymyositis.

This disease is diagnosed by x-ray, cat scan or a bronchoscopy where the doctor inserts a device through the nose or mouth into the lungs to look inside your airway. A biopsy may be done at this time.

There is no cure but treatments include:

  1. Numerous medications may be prescribed, including: “steroids (prednisone) and other rheumatologic drugs, including mycophenolate (CellCept), azathioprine (Imuran), leflunomide (Arava), rituximab (Rituxan), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), tacrolimus (Prograf) and others. Medications to stop further fibrosis include pirfenidone (Esbriet) and nintedanib (Ofev).”
  2. Oxygen therapy
  3. Breathing exercises and increased physical activity
  4. Severe cases require a lung transplant

Treatment Options for Interstitial Lung Disease

Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto’s disease (chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) is another autoimmune disease sometimes associated with lupus. The immune system creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, so this may lead to an underactive thyroid. This happens slowly but it does damage the thyroid, causing lower thyroid hormone levels. You may notice swelling at the front of your throat.

Thyroid hormone medications are prescribed based on blood tests. Frequently patients with this disease become lactose intolerant. There are a significant number of symptoms that may occur with this disease, including:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Stiff, painful joints
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Dry and pale skin
  • Constipation
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, weakness, tenderness and stiffness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • Depression
  • Memory lapses

Antiphospholipid Syndrome Antiphospholipid

Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disease that happens when your immune system mistakenly creates antibodies that causes your blood to clot much more easily. This is very dangerous as blood clots could be found in the kidneys, lungs, legs or the brain.

Scroll to Continue

The symptoms of this disease include:

  • Blood clots in the legs (DVT) - causes pain, swelling and swelling
  • Repeated miscarriages, stillbirths or premature delivery
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) - stroke like symptoms lasting a short time
  • Strokes - this can occur to a young person
  • Red rash with a lacy, net-like pattern

There is also no cure for this disease, so blood-thinning medications will be given, such as heparin.

In Conclusion

There are several common symptoms to the autoimmune diseases, such as fatigue, abdominal digestive problems, recurring fevers and skin problems. I have lupus that is under control, but that wasn’t always true.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with lupus a year ago with severe symptoms. Her life has been chaotic since that time. She has been diagnosed with Polymyositis and now she will undergo a bronchoscopy for Interstitial lung disease. She has all the symptoms for these diseases, and it is so sad. She is a nurse and has four children with a supportive husband. The autoimmune diseases can make life very difficult.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 03, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

Prednisone is prescribed for many autoimmune diseases and there are many side effects. Thank you for your comments.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on October 02, 2020:

My grandma used prednisone and it caused her blood sugar to elevate.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 02, 2020:

Hi Maria,

Most of my problems are due to the large amount of prednisone I was prescribed. There was no Benesta at that time. Thanks so much for your comments. Have a lovely weekend. Stay safe and healthy.

Much love.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 02, 2020:

Dear Pamela,

Prednisone can be such a necessary evil for autoimmune issues.

Thank you for sharing this valuable information and your personal experience - so sorry about your friend. Sending positive thoughts her way.



Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 22, 2020:

Hi Chitrangada,

These are difficult diseases to have and it is good to be aware. Thank you so much for your very nice comments. They are always appreciated.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 22, 2020:

All these autoimmune diseases sound so scary. You provide good information about them. Life becomes difficult, no doubt, if someone has these medical issues. I know many people around, who are suffering.

Thank you for sharing this valuable and informative article.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 21, 2020:

It takes quite a lot of effort to live with autoimmune diseases for which there is no cure. Hope some remedies are found soon.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 20, 2020:

Hi Ms Dora,

It is so important to take care of our bodies as it may not stop us from getting a disease but maybe the disease will be less severe.

When I was diagnosed with lupus long ago I was glad to finally find out what was wrong with me. I had seen many doctors and no one knew

what was wrong. I think some thought it was in my head. Even though the treatments were not very good at least I finally had an answer.

I appreciate your comments and I hope you enjoy your Sunday. God bless.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 20, 2020:

Hi Devika,

Autoimmune diseases are often difficult to control. I am glad you found this article useful. Thank you for your comments.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 20, 2020:

Diseases for which there are no cure frustrate us. They make us feel helpless. However, they also remind us to do the best we can to take care of our bodies. Thanks for for another helpful article.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 20, 2020:

Pamela Oglesby As we get older or even at a young age certain health issues can't be controlled. Autoimmune disease is difficult to cope with and I learned that from this hub. Informative and a useful hub to everyone.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 20, 2020:

Hi MG,

I a glad you find the articles interesting. I always appreciate your comments.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 19, 2020:

You always give so much interesting information that its an education for me.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Sp,

It is hard to deal with this autoimmune diseases. I hear your anger with this situation and we all feel this wy. Thank you for commenting.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on September 19, 2020:

It's so frustrating to think that while we can look after out health and body there are still some things that we can't control happening to our bodies.

I can't imagine what it is like for someone to deal with any of these conditions on a day to day basis. They really are strong individuals who probably just get on with things and deal with it.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Mae,

There are so many different autoimmund different autoimmune diseases. Vitiligo is one I have not written about at this time. Thanks you so much for your comments.

Mae Williams from USA on September 19, 2020:

I learned a little more about autoimmune reading your blog. It is amazing that there are so many different ones. Yours was very informative. I have vitiligo and that’s another autoimmune disease.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Abby,

I am on restasis also. I worked as an RN for many years in several capacities and I really loved those jobs.

I am glad you learn from my articles. I enjoy the research as well. I very much appreciate you very kind comments.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 19, 2020:

I always feel like a learn so much from your articles. I think it is because you actually have medical expertise and are not just researching the subject. I am on restasis.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

I agree that lifestyle changes are very important. I appreciate you very nice comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Vidya,

I am sorry to hear about your brother. I hope for a recovery in the not to distant future, but even having some better medications would be good. Thank you so much for your comments.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on September 19, 2020:

This disease looks so painful.I am thankful for your 22years of experience as an RN. I love that you address lifestyle changes because they are so important.

VIDYA D SAGAR on September 19, 2020:

A very informative article Pamela. My brother has rheumatoid arthritis and I have seen how much he struggles with the pain. With medication he is able to manage better. Wish they would find a cure for autoimmune illnesses soon It is so difficult living with one. Good to know yours is under control. Wishing your friend a speedy recovery. Take care Pamela

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Linda,

You are probably right about a multii-part article as there is so many autoimmune diseases with a wealth of information, just no cures. For me the lupus is better, but I have a large number of health problems primarily due to the medications I took to survive all of those years. Others are in terrible condition. I believe the key is diagnosing people earlier and we need to find some cures.

I appreciate your comments, Linda. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 19, 2020:

Pamela, autoimmune diseases are dreadful, often misunderstood and difficult to diagnose. I had not heard of these. There are so many times that "our body attacks itself" you could probably turn this into a multi-part article. Thank you for shedding light on this problem. I am thankful that despite the diagnosis of lupus you are now feeling better.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I appreciate your very nice comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2020:

Hi Helna,

I agree that Jesus is the answer. Thank you for your comments. God bless you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 18, 2020:

I'm glad your lupus is currently under control. Thank you for sharing more of your extensive health knowledge, Pamela.

Helna on September 18, 2020:

Jesus healed many. There is no decease that cannot be healed. Believe in Jesus. Not only for salvation but also for your healing and a better life. Blessings.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

My friend is very sick. Thank you for your very nice comments. They are appreciated, as always.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Flourish,

Your aunt's situation is heartbreaking. I have both lupus and sjorgren's disease. The friend I wrote about in the last paragragh may not live long as her lungs were attacked differently from mine or she may need a lung trnsplant. Autoimmune diseases often impact your life in a big way.

I appreciate your generous and very nice comments. Have a great weekene!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 18, 2020:

Your description of life with an autoimmune condition as chaotic is very appropriate. I’m wishing you the very best health and support. I have found that who you have in your corner makes so much difference. People with autoimmune diseases are sadly more often likely to acquire another one. My aunt, for example, has both lupus and RA and is mentally ill as well. What a cruel mix.

Rosina S Khan on September 18, 2020:

It was nice to know about autoimmune diseases. This article should help those suffering from such diseases. Sorry for your friend. Anyways, the article was great and informative.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

The side effects of the drugs are a big problem. There is a price to be paid for taking chemotherapy type drugs and prednisone. I took both of those and after many years they came up with a drug that actually treats lupus called Benesta.

I sure hope the research begins to find some cures as it seems only medications have been found at this time.

I appreciate your generous comments. Have a wonderful weekend, Lorna!

Lorna Lamon on September 18, 2020:

So many autoimmune disease's and unfortunately not enough research into finding a cure. I think they are all difficult to live with if not controlled and I am sure that some of the medication used to control them must have side effects. This is such an informative article Pamela and I hope that research, if given enough funding will make greater strides.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Eric,

My friendl with the lung disease is short of breath with most any activity. Maybe we all know just enough.

I appreciate your comments, as always Eric. Have a fantastic weekend!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I am glad you are so healthy. Of course, lnone of us live forever but living your senior years in a healthy state is great. Gratetude will help you stay heathy as you have those good hormones breesing through your body. :) Thanks for your comments and you have a fabulous weekend too!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Rinita,

Researchers have not made much progress in curing any autoimmne disease unfortuntely. This article would have beenl numerous pages if I had listed each autoimmune disease. I am sorry to hear your have one.

I appreiate your comments and hope you feel better.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 18, 2020:

Sadly very interesting. I learn more about the body from you then I ever did in school. Well wait, maybe my basics help me understand your complexities.

The lung dysfunction really reminds us what a miracle we are to be healthy.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Every single time you post an article, I am reminded of just how lucky I am. Oh, my time is coming, for sure, but I have basically breezed through seventy-one years without any major illnesses or problems, and I'm grateful every day.

I hope this finds you well, my friend. Have a fabulous weekend!

Rinita Sen on September 18, 2020:

Thank you for writing this. I myself have been dealing with an AI condition (not listed here), and it baffles me how little awareness there is about AI conditions. Also, conventional medicine, sorry to say, hasn't made much progress in treatment options.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

These diseases are painful and cause a variety of problems. I hope some cures happen in the future.

Thanks for your comments. Have a good weekend.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2020:

Autoimmune diseases can make life very difficult for people. It would be fantastic in the years to come if a cure could be found for some of these diseases. Perhaps someday!

Related Articles