Other related autoimmune problems

Posted Wed 6 Mar 2019 7.32pm by wendyloish

Those of you who like pizza will already know I have an older brother. He is 76. I am 72. We have lived our adult lives in different places and pursued different lifestyles, but we have ended up with the same debilitating psoriatic arthritis at about the same age. I have over the years developed a whole slew of autoimmune problems. My brother has some of these but not others. So I have been comparing notes with him. You might call my conclusions a statistically insignificant comparison study based on a ridiculously small number of subjects. Two! But what we have in common may be important, so I am going to summarise, as you might find it helpful.

There are 4 basic health issues we share - psoriatic arthritis, gut problems, high blood pressure and an enlarged heart (no we don't share a heart, we definitely have one each). So I think these issues may be fundamental, whereas others like Hashimoto's thyroiditis may be linked to the problem, but be sex specific. I have hesitated to include asthma as a 5th issue, as I was only diagnosed with this at the age of 70, and my FODMAP anti-inflammatory diet seems to have eliminated this problem entirely. And perhaps tinnitus could be added to the list, but it is not as life altering as the other problems.

1. psoriatic arthritis

I have had psoriasis mainly around my ears and scalp and on my upper arms and lower legs since I was about 18. And nail psoriasis developed in my late 20s. In contrast my brother has only ever had problems on his hands and finger nails. Yet we both developed psoriatic arthritis, with symptoms first being noticed in our 40s (his were knee problems, mine were back and knee problems), and the degeneration having only become noticeable enough for diagnosis in our late 60s.

2. gut problems

I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome in my 40s. I developed reflux problems in my 60s. Lucky brother only got the second one. He went on acid reducing medication, whereas I experimented with diet changes, firstly with a high fibre diet, then with FODMAP. The diet solution has sorted this problem for us both. It was about 8 months ago that I persuaded my brother to give the diet solution a go.

3. high blood pressure

This, I think was a blow for my brother. He is fit, and has a lifetime of healthy living behind him. He has not and has never had ANY of the risk factors for for high blood pressure. I smoked in my youth. I certainly drank, and after having a thyroid tumour at the age of 39, I became first overweight and then obese. And we both ended up with high blood pressure at the same age in our 60s.

4. enlarged heart

Despite both of us having this problem, neither of us has impaired heart function as demonstrated by echocardiograms. I found some info in an article on lupus which points to inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart, which may explain how inflammation may be present that is not impeding the heart's function. For me this problem dates back about 20 years. Our father died of heart disease at the age of 60, having had his 1st heart attack about a decade before. I have concluded that pericarditis is a possible common factor here.

I know that traditionally what I have been writing about has been viewed as just the inevitable chronic disease of old age. But only half the population has arthritis by the time they are in their 80s. If old age was the problem, how did the other half of the population escape? Lifestyle has been blamed for a lot as well. So why is my clean living exercising brother, having made all the right choices, still in the same place as his evil (not so clean living) sister?

I think it is all worth a rethink, and psoriasis is one of the earliest key indicators or future risk. I think childhood tonsillitis may also be a key indicator, but I will leave that question for another posting later.

Hope this info is helpful.


1 Posted Thu 14 Mar 2019 2.36am by wendyloish (edited Thu 14 Mar 2019 11.30am by wendyloish)

thyroid problems and Hashimoto's thyroiditis

This is another autoimmune disease which may be related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

One of the big differences between my brother and me is the problems I have had with my thyroid. And I think this may be a result of being a woman. Women are 7 times more likely to suffer from thyroid problems than men. I think that this may either be a direct result of the fact that estrogen is an immuno-stimulant whereas testosterone is an immuno-suppressor, or it may be a result of the stresses put upon the body, especially the immune system, during pregnancy. Something like 12-14% of women develop gestational diabetes in the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy as placental hormones block the mother's insulin production, resulting in the mother producing 2 to 3 times the normal amount. I remember in my biology 101 class that the lecturer referred to a fetus as the perfect parasite. It basically has DNA only 50% of which matches the mother's. So the pregnant body is in a state immune stress. So I think that a woman who already has subclinical thyroid autoimmune problems could be tipped over the edge by pregnancy. And multiple pregnancies would exacerbate the problem. It is also possible that having children in your 30s, like I did, might be important in magnifying subclinical hypothyroidism, as lymphocyte attack on the thyroid might be further advanced for a woman having her babies in her 30s.

It is interesting to note that some women seem to have a worsening of their psoriasis after pregnancy. For me this is difficult to judge, as I went to live in Connecticut. My psoriasis got a lot worse, but of course there were plenty of environmental factors like lack of sunshine and lack of exposure to sunshine during the time in the USA.

Long term the thyroid problem leads to weight gain, which in my case led to years of victim blaming with respect to my back and joint pains. Basically I was told for many years it was the weight that was causing the arthritis, the joint and back degeneration and the pain. I got to old age before I found out differently, and that was really by accident. My five day fast, which began my quest to find the cause and a possible cure for my chronic problems, was undertaken to try to lose weight, on the command of a local GP. It was a surprise to me that fasting was a cure to my chronic pain, and a reduction in my skeletal inflammation.

With men and thyroid dysfunction, I suspect that without the strains a women has, a man with a genetic predisposition would simply continue with subclinical hypothyroidism, resulting in gradual weight gain over time, as the thyroid is slowly and inevitably damaged. We all know that men tend to put on weight as their metabolism slows down until it become really noticeable in their 40s. What is controlling that metabolism slow down? The thyroid!


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