What Are the Common Autoimmune Diseases in Older Adults?
27 October 2022
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your own body, causing damage to it. There are over 100 known autoimmune diseases including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 23.5 million people in the United States are dealing with autoimmune disorders, and recent researches show that these conditions are 50% higher in older adults.
What Are the Common Autoimmune Diseases That Occur in Older adults?
Several autoimmune diseases develop in older adults and one such disease is Sjogren’s syndrome which is commonly seen particularly in women.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
Sjogren’s syndrome causes dry eyes and mouth in older adults as well as pain in muscles or joints, hoarseness or impaired voice, and difficulty in swallowing, and is treated with a saliva stimulator, eye drops, and other medications if needed.
- Giant Cell Arteritis
The most common autoimmune disease that occurs in old adults would be giant cell arteritis which is also called temporal cell arteritis. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the arteries and it can affect the neck and head of an individual. Symptoms also include changes in vision and headaches.
The disease is diagnosed with biopsy and blood tests of the temporal artery in the head and requires prompt treatment with steroids to avoid vision loss after the diagnosis. Sometimes, autoimmune disease goes along with a muscle ache condition called “polymyalgia rheumatica”
If you are experiencing this muscle ache, you may be prescribed a steroid with a low dosage. The treatment can last up to several years, but many patients experience relief in just a few years after beginning the medication.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is also one of the most common autoimmune diseases that occur in elderly people. In RA, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy joints and is most likely to show symptoms between the ages of thirty and fifty and starts between sixty and sixty-five.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include tenderness and pain in the affected area, aching and swelling in more than one joint, weakness and loss of stamina, and low-grade fever with no explanation.
If you are diagnosed with RA, your doctor may recommend steroids that reduce the inflammation and immunosuppressant drugs that reduce the activity of the immune system.
- Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. In this condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells as if they are pathogens.
Most people diagnosed with MS are done so between the ages of twenty to forty years however, conditions can also occur outside of this age bracket. Sometimes, it’s difficult to diagnose these symptoms as people may presume these symptoms as the common signs of aging.
Some common symptoms of MS include dizziness, fatigue, bowel problems, emotional changes, vision problems, bladder dysfunction, and difficulty with problem-solving.
Treatment options for MS involve drugs meant to treat specific symptoms, corticosteroids to minimize inflammation, and disease-modifying medications that prevent and reduce the severity of MS.
Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases
Treatment for autoimmune diseases can vary based on the symptoms. However, the majority of autoimmune diseases are treated with steroids, biologics, and anti-inflammatories. Biologics are mediations created from living organisms, effective in treating ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis among other conditions.
There is little you can do to avoid developing an autoimmune disorder as there are no preventive treatments, no vaccination, and no environmental or dietary components you can avoid to prevent them.
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, you will likely have to manage it throughout your life, but for older adults, there is a silver lining. As you age, your immune system gets weaker which makes older adults less susceptible to immune disorders, says Tom Goldberg (FACP, MD, chief of geriatric medicine at Abington Jefferson Health).
How Can We Manage the Autoimmune Diseases in the Old Age?
You can manage autoimmune conditions by following the below health tips:
- Take up an onboard paleo autoimmune protocol diet.
- Eat a well-balanced diet including leafy greens and fruits.
- Drink at least 2 - 3 liters of water per day to keep your body hydrated.
- Cut off AIP-restricted foods such as nightshades, legumes, nuts, grains, and alcohol.
- Include gut-healing foods such as kombucha, pickled veggies, white kimchi, sauerkraut, coconut milk kefir, and yogurt. These fermented foods support your immune system and reduce inflammation in your gut by keeping essential gut microbiota.
- Get a good amount of sleep.
- Exercise for at least 20 - 30 minutes per day.
- Follow the prescribed medication given by your physician.
As we age, protein depletes in our bodies, especially so in older adults. So, it is necessary that you get a hefty amount of protein in your diet. Include protein-rich foods such as bone broth, tuna, salmon, and lamb meat.
The food we eat is not completely absorbed by our bodies, especially in older adults. So, it is recommended to include AIP diet supplements that align with your paleo autoimmune protocol diet and those that come from a clean source. These protein supplements will support you in relieving symptoms by providing the amount of nutrition your body needs.
Always document any new symptoms you experience. The sooner you address the symptoms the better you will manage them.
If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with the paleo diet, take the help of paleo diet supplements to relieve the symptoms. AIP protein powder from Autoimmune Health & Nutrition is the cleanest and healthiest way to provide your body with essential nutrition and relieve the symptoms. Our protein powders are non-GMO, allergen-free, dairy-free, soy-free with no sugar added, and contains an organic superfood blend.