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Autoimmune Diseases

  1. Where can I find a dietitian who works with autoimmune disorders like HIV / AIDS? Answer
  2. The diagnosis of lupus was incorrect and I am getting thyroid antibodies checked. Answer
  3. I already have high blood pressure. If I get put on Cortisone, is this going to cause more problems? Answer
  4. The doctor now thinks I have lupus. Are there any foods which aggravate this disease and to be avoided? Answer
  5. I have Crohn's disease with bowel resection and lupus. Is a vitaim deficiency responsible for my hair loss? Answer
  6. Have you any suggestions as to diet or alternative treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)? Answer

Where can I find a dietitian who works with autoimmune disorders like HIV / AIDS?

You need to find a dietitian who specializes in working with patients with immune disorders like HIV / AIDS, hepatitis and infectious diseases. You can find a dietitian at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Include your zip code or city / state and the type of service you want (individual consultation) with expertise in HIV / AIDS (immune disorders).

Thanks for the reply. I had to go back to the doctor since writing as I had blepharitis, a swelling of the eyelids. My usual doctor was away and saw his partner only to have him tell me that the diagnosis of lupus is in his opinion incorrect and that I should have thyroid antibodies checked which I have done, but so far not got the results. To be honest, am too scared to return after the last scary diagnosis. Reading up on the thyroid I probably need calcium. I will make a call to the doctor as soon as I get back in swing of things at work and discuss all these things with my doctor. It is good to hear what you have said as well. I actually sometimes wonder how many of one's problems are caused by incorrect medication and diagnosis.

Good to hear from you. If it doesn't feel right to your gut feeling, keep asking questions.

Remember that just because you don't know the test results doesn't change the diagnosis. The sooner you find out what your diagnosis is the sooner you can start treatment. Fear is keeping you stuck. You are your own best advocate so make an appointment to talk to your new doctor about your test results and find out what you can do to regain your health.

Thanks for your speedy reply. My question too is why is my thyroid now hyperactive? I am to get a second opinion, but asked by doctor to repeat the tests before getting a second opinion.

Unfortunately (I forgot to mention this) I already have high blood pressure. If I get put on Cortisone this is going to cause more problems. Doctors don't always take everything into consideration when one consults them for a problem and I think many times tend to ignore the fact that one is already being treated for something else. What you have said about my iron requirements being equal to that of a man makes sense. Having looked up autoimmune related illnesses I have found mention to the fact that thyroid problems are also autoimmune related and will discuss this with my doctors when I see him next.

I would wonder why a thyroid that was slow is now fast (was hypo and now hyper). Your doctor would be the appropriate person to answer that question and getting a second test to confirm the first test results makes sense.

If you have high blood pressure, is your calcium intake adequate? New research suggests an association between high blood pressure and low calcium levels. You should boost your calcium intake to 1200 milligrams per day being post menopausal.

Yes, it is difficult to consider all your health care problems, but that is why you see one doctor rather than several. Be your own health care advocate. Remind your doctor of all your diagnoses and medications to make sure that one doesn't conflict with another.

I am a 53 year old woman, overweight, cannot play sports since I had three vertebrae broken 8 years back, had a hysterectomy years ago, am on hormone treatment, diagnosed as hypoactive thyroid two years ago and been on thyroid pills and iron capsules. Last week had blood tests done and now hyperactive thyroid. The doctor now thinks I have lupus which the doctors in South Africa know very little about. My weight goes up and up even though I am supposed to be losing weight. All in all I feel like a crock with all these problems. Please help as to what kind of diet I can follow, especially relevant to the lupus. Are there any foods which aggravate this disease and to be avoided?

Your assistance would be most appreciated.

Regarding your thyroid, have you asked your doctor if your thyroid medication needs to be adjusted? Also ask your doctor if your thyroid has changed in size.

Anemia is one symptom of lupus. Why are you taking iron supplements if you have had a hysterectomy? Since you are no longer menstruating, you should not be losing any blood and therefore not needing additional iron much like men. Is your hemoglobin low or are your iron stores low? Do you eat red meat or are you a vegetarian? Either way, you can still meet your iron requirements by choosing iron rich foods. Ask your doctor if you should be taking iron supplements.

If your doctor is not sure, there are specific blood tests that can be performed to diagnose lupus such as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, liver and kidney enzymes. Also there are websites devoted to lupus research which anyone can look up online. Ask your doctor to refer you to someone who specializes in lupus. Also talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking hormone replacements or not if you have lupus.

There are no foods that aggravate lupus since it is an inflammatory autoimmune disease with no known cause. Your body is attacking itself with your immune system. You may experience arthritis like symptoms. Your kidneys, nerves and blood are most affected by this disease.

Make healthy food choices from meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and healthy oils food groups. It is important to eat 3 meals every day. To help control your weight, choose smaller portion sizes.

If you have been put on prednisone or other steroids to suppress your immune system, your blood sugar and blood pressure may go up. You may start retaining fluid depending on the steroid dose. A diabetic nutrition therapy limiting carbohydrates would be recommended. If your blood pressure goes up, limit your salt to cooking with half the salt in a recipe. Do not add salt at the table and do not eat salty foods like bacon, ham, pickles, sauerkraut, processed foods, etc.

As to your weight, if your thyroid is not regulated and you have had a hysterectomy, your metabolism may be affected. Also, due to your back injury and inability to play sports, you are not getting as much physical exercise that would help the weight swings you are experiencing. Have you thought of trying water sports like swimming since this type of exercise would not stress your back?

I am 35 years old and have had Crohn's for many years. I have had 8 feet of my small intestine removed and about 3 feet of my large intestine removed. I have also recently been diagnosed with Lupus. In the past year or more my hair has been falling out rapidly. The root ball of the hair is attached to the hair that I have been losing. I take B12 injections and watch my diet very closely. I do have flare-ups, but nothing that I can't handle. Could I have a vitamin deficiency of some kind or lack of a vitamin absorption that could be causing this? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Considering your history of Crohn's disease, protein absorption may not be optimal in your remaining small intestine depending on which 8 feet were removed. Protein is absorbed as amino acids in the lower duodenum and the jejunum. Also, lupus causes an increased damage to connective tissue (protein) which shows up as higher creatinine levels in your blood which is excreted by your kidneys.

The vitamin shots will not stop your hair loss as vitamin B12 is not involved in the growth of hair. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the small intestine so taking the shots supplements any remaining absorption in your intestinal tract. You will need these shots for the rest of your life due to the removal of part of your small intestine. Vitamin B12 is necessary to free folic acid so that folic acid can produce mature red blood cells. Vitamin B12 also functions in maintaining the cover around nerve fibers and a deficiency would cause paralysis of nerves and muscles starting in the hands and feet.

Hair is mostly rigid protein and responds to the quality and quantity of protein in foods you eat. Hair thinning gradually increases with age due to lower estrogen (menopause) and testosterone (hormone) levels in the body. Hair loss also increases because of prescriptive drugs like steroids (prednisone) prescribed for lupus and radiation or chemotherapy used in cancer treatments.

When hair loss suddenly increases without accompanying disease it can reflect protein - calorie malnutrition which can be caused by inadequate consumption of protein and / or calories or poor absorption of protein from the intestines. BTW hair analysis is useless in telling what nutrients the body needs.

I would suggest you see a registered dietitian who can read your medical chart and can assess your nutritional status. My concern for you is protein absorption which may be improved with a liquid amino acids supplement of depending on what small bowel you have left. Because of a shortened small intestine, you may have vitamin deficiencies which will not be "cured" by vitamin supplements because you may not have the absorption sites for these vitamins in your remaining small intestine. A vitamin pill may pass through your shorter intestines unabsorbed. You may need other vitamin shots as well because of a shortened small intestine. A dietitian can assess this and I would suggest you make an appointment.

Have you any suggestions as to diet or alternative treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)? I have just received an "equivocal" diagnosis of lupus and hope to head it off at the pass!

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. It is treated with aspirin for mild cases or steroids like prednisone for severe cases.

If you start taking steroids to reduce inflammation, then you will need to limit salt / salty foods and follow a diabetic nutrition therapy. Weight gain is another problem as steroids will increase your appetite. Steroids increase fluid retention and blood pressure, blood sugar and bone loss due to interference with calcium absorption. Limit caffeine containing beverages and food. Also, steroids, depending on the dose, can cause skin to become thinner and bruise more easily. You should stay out of the sun which can cause lupus flare-ups and wear sun screen when you are outside to prevent sun damage to skin thinned by steroids.

A healthy balanced eating plan that contains adequate protein and calories appropriate for your height and weight is recommended for persons with lupus. Try the Healthy Body Calculator® to find out how many calories you need depending on your weight goal.

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