Yes, Rheumatologists Diagnose And Treat Autoimmune Diseases

Posted on: 10 February 2022

Rheumatologists are specialists who treat autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases. Your doctor is likely to refer you to a rheumatologist when you have symptoms of an autoimmune disease.

Understanding the signs of autoimmune disease can help you decide whether you should ask for a referral from your primary care physician to a specialist.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

People suffer from autoimmune diseases when their body's defense system attacks its own cells. This occurs because the body mistakes normal cells for foreign ones in the body and attacks its own tissues.

There are many autoimmune diseases, and some are more common.

  • Lupus
  • Thyroid disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Celiac disease

These are just a few of the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases that affect a range of body parts.

What Are The Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases?

Many autoimmune diseases share common symptoms. However, the severity of symptoms can vary by person.

A rheumatologist conducts examinations, blood work, and questionnaires to help diagnose and treat patients suffering from common autoimmune disease symptoms. 

  • Fatigue
  • Skin problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Fever
  • Joint swelling and pain
  • Rash

Pinpointing the cause of an autoimmune reaction in the body is not always easy. It takes a specialist to conduct a thorough exam.

Who Gets Autoimmune Diseases?

While doctors aren't sure exactly what causes the body to attack normal cells and tissues, they believe that an overactive immune system is at the root of the issue.

The immune system often attacks the body after an injury or infection. There are also certain risk factors that increase a person's chances of developing an autoimmune disease.

  • Extra weight puts stress on joints, and fat tissues can encourage inflammation in the body
  • Genetics plays a role as lupus and multiple sclerosis seem to run in families.
  • Smokers have a higher risk of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol can sometimes trigger lupus and myopathy.

Your rheumatologist will go over your medical history with you to make a correct diagnosis. They will also give advice on taking care of your health to help manage your autoimmune disease.

If you have symptoms of an autoimmune disease, start by talking with your primary care physician; they can refer you to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist will work with patients to ensure they get the correct diagnosis and treatment.