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5 Common Autoimmune Diseases in Men

Dr Auto Immune
November 30, 2022

It seems discussing a Autoimmune diseases in men is not a topic that is discussed very often. That’s because 80% of all patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women, but the gap is getting smaller. This is why we think it’s important that we take a look at the five most common autoimmune diseases and their symptoms in men.

Addison’s Disease

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the adrenal glands. The primary role of your adrenal glands is to produce and regulate the stress hormone cortisol.

To receive an Addison’s disease diagnosis, you must have lost 90% of your adrenal glands’ function. However, you can still have adrenal insufficiency without theis diagnosis of Addison’s disease. Anything between optimal health and Addison’s disease is referred to as adrenal fatigue. It’s found that most men fall somewhere on this spectrum.

Symptoms of Addison’s disease develop slowly over several months. Symptoms are often subtle or mirror symptoms of other conditions, which unfortunately makes symptoms easy to ignore as signs as Addison’s disease unless visiting a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune.

Symptoms of Addison’s Disease

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Salt cravings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Depression
  • Hair loss

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the small intestine. It’s also an autoimmune response to gluten. Gluten (from Latin, “glue”) is a protein in wheat made up of the peptides, gliadin and glutenin. It is found in other grains such as semolina, spelt, kamut, rye, and barley. Gluten is what makes bread airy and fluffy—but it’s also highly inflammatory for most people.

Consuming gluten when you have celiac disease causes damage to your villi, or the tiny hair-like projections that run along the surface of your gut that help you to digest food properly. This leads to nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut, and increases your odds of developing another autoimmune condition.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

  • Frequent bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Women are twice as likely to have multiple sclerosis, yet it’s still one of the more common autoimmune diseases in men.

This autoimmune disease can develop at any age, but the most common age of onset for men is between 20 and 50. It happens when inflammation causes damage to the nervous system.

Each person with MS will also develop a unique set of symptoms, based on the specific pattern of inflammatory nervous system damage in that individual, and the affected part(s) of the body.

There are no MS symptoms that are exclusively found in men and not women, but some signs of MS are generally more common for men or women.

Men with MS are more likely to experience:

  • motor problems
  • loss of coordination and imbalance
  • cognitive difficulties

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary in severity and duration from person to person; and they can also change over time.

Other Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Double vision or inflammation of the eye (optic neuritis)
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle weakness
  • “Pins and needles” sensations, numbness, and other bodily sensations (dysesthesia)
  • Muscle stiffness, jerks, exaggerated reflexes (muscle spasticity)
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Cognitive problems
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control


Unlike most autoimmune conditions that attack one bodily system, lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease that impacts multiple systems in the body. Because of this, lupus can be life-threatening and can affect the skin, joints, internal organs and the nervous system.

Men account for 1 in 10 of individuals diagnosed with lupus. Research also indicates that the disease typically presents more severe symptoms in men than women. That’s likely because the disease is underdiagnosed in men. Symptoms of this autoimmune disease vary widely and can range from mild to severe.

Lupus isIt’s also nicknamed “The Great Imitator ”. It got this nickname because it mimics other diseases and it impacts multiple bodily systems. Symptoms from lupus often come and go or change entirely;, that’s why it’s so important that you visit a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune.

Without proper testing you may be completely unaware that you even have lupus or another autoimmune disease if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned below.

Signs of Lupus

  • Anemia
  • A butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Heart problems
  • Anemia or low blood count
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Increased risk for blood clots
  • Kidney disease
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain/ swelling of the joints, hands, feet, or eye

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to a group of inflammatory conditions affecting the intestines and colon.

IBD shares many symptoms with two other autoimmune diseases called Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Though they share similar symptoms they’re actually quite different. For instance, inflammation occurs anywhere along the digestive tract in people with Crohn’s disease, whereas it’s limited to the large intestine in those with ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

People with Crohn’s disease have patchy inflammation, thickened colon walls and ulcers that extend deep into tissues in the walls.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Malabsorption
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Mouth sores
  • Rashes, skin ulcers, and other skin disorders
  • Dry, inflamed eyes

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

As I mentioned above, inflammation is limited to the colon in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Here are common symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia that is caused by severe bleeding
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Malabsorption
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Inability to defecate
  • Weight loss

By the time symptoms have begun, conventional medicine treats both diseases the same way: with a slew of immunosuppressive medications and invasive surgeries. By ignoring the upstream factors that led to the condition, these methods don’t address the thing that caused the inflammation in the first place. Over time, IBD symptoms can reach beyond the gastrointestinal tract, including the eyes, joints, and skin.

These are the most common autoimmune diseases in men, yet that doesn’t mean men cannot get other autoimmune diseases as well. The great news is that regardless of which autoimmune disease is affecting you, you can eliminate your symptoms and reverse your condition with a functional medicine approach like what Dr. Autoimmune uses. It starts by getting to the root cause of your symptoms.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Autoimmune Disease in Men

Conventional medicine does not recognize autoimmune diseases as diseases of the immune system as a whole. Instead, they are treated as diseases of particular organs. Unfortunately, that means that there isn’t a unified branch in conventional medicine to manage autoimmune conditions. This is where Dr. Ian Hollaman and the Dr. Autoimmune team come in.

Functional medicine sees the body as a whole unit and views autoimmunity as a disease of the immune system. Instead of focusing on disease symptom management, functional medicine focuses on supporting and strengthening the immune system by getting to the root of what causes autoimmune diseases in men in the first place.

If you or any men in your life suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above without an identified, underlying cause, then you should seek care right away!

Dr. Ian Hollaman, and the Dr. Autoimmune team located in Boulder, Colorado takes into account many factors, such as environment, symptoms, nutrition, genes, and lab values, in order to determine the root cause of your medical issues so your health and well-being can be restored.

Ready to Get Started with Dr. Autoimmune?

If you’re ready to take the next step in balancing your health, Dr. Autoimmune offers multiple ways to reach out for your convenience, and encourages you to connect with us so we can answer any questions you may have. Our specialized staff is standing by ready to help!

Click here to schedule your appointment with the Dr. Autoimmune team today! We offer 100% remote care so anyone can heal from anywhere! And we’ve set up ‘The Dr. Autoimmune Solution’ which is a comprehensive new patient special that includes everything necessary to determine the root cause of your condition and start you on the journey to getting your life back.

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