Diabetes and Associated Autoimmune Diseases

          Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that the body sees its own tissue (or beta cells of the pancreas) as foreign invaders and attacks itself. It’s rare, but there is other autoimmune disease that you may be diagnosed with later on. It’s better to be educated on these diseases and what the initial symptoms are so you can know the danger signs and seek treatment if they occur. Genetics seem to play an important role in the chances of developing autoimmune diseases so if you know of a history in your family of one of these mentioned below please discuss this with your doctor so they can perform the necessary tests to make sure you aren’t suffering from one of these conditions as well.

Celiac Disease an immune diseasein which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

  • abdominal pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • unusually unstable blood glucose levels
  • weight loss, fatigue, irritability
  • bruising easily
  • itchy skin rash
  • growth problems (in children)
  • loss of bone density or anemia (in adults)


Thyroid Diseasea medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism.

  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • memory fog
  • bradycardia
  • hair loss
  • menstrual irregularity, especially heavy periods and infertility
  • depression
  • cold sensitivity
  • muscle pain
  • lethargy in more severe cases
  • weight loss
  • tachycardia
  • irritability
  • lethargy or weakness
  • goiter, or enlarged thyroid, which causes a feeling of fullness in the throat
  • heat intolerance
  • nervousness
  • diarrhea
  • trembling
  • insomnia

Multiple Sclerosis(MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In MS , the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.

  • difficulty walking
  • weakness
  • loss of balance
  • numbness or tingling
  • spasticity
  • fatigue
  • cognitive difficulties
  • vision problems
  • blurry vision
  • pain in eye movement
  • numbness
  • tingling in face
  • pain
  • depression 

Lupusis a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs

  • fatigue
  • butterfly rash on face
  • photosensitivity
  • shortness of breath and/or chest pain
  • fever
  • headaches or neural issues
  • Secondary Raynaud’s
  • susceptibility to infection
  • kidney problems, especially when found in conjunction with Type 1 diabetes
  • anemia

♦Gastritisis a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach. The inflammation of gastritisis most often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers.

Anemiais a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Having anemia can make you feel tired and weak. There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.

  • weakness
  • trouble concentrating
  • shortness of breath
  • leg cramps
  • headache
  • heart palpitations
  • insomnia
  • paleness

♦In severe cases, severe B12 deficiency If you have vitamin B12 deficiency, you could become anemic. A mild deficiencymay cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may lead to symptoms such as: Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness. Heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

  • paresthesia
  • stiff muscles
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • dementia

Addison’s Disease also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone.

  • muscle weakness or pain
  • hyper-pigmentation of skin
  • fatigue
  • hyperpigmentation
  • mood irregularity
  • salt cravings
  • weight loss and loss of appetite
  • low blood pressure
  • nausea and/or diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • lower back and/or leg pain

Vitiligoa condition in which the skin loses its pigment cells (melanocytes). This can result in discolored patches in different areas of the body, including the skin, hair and mucous membranes.

  • milky-white patches of skin (pigmentation)
  • premature whitening of hair
  • loss of color of inside of mouth
  • loss of color in retina

Autoimmune Arthritis is the name given to a group of arthritistypes where a person’s immune system attacks itself. The most common example is rheumatoid arthritis. When the immune system attacks itself, the result is inflammation in a joint that can cause pain, stiffness, and mobility problems.

  • fatigue
  • joint pain, tenderness, swelling, redness, or warmth
  • lost range of motion or function in joints
  • anemia
  • fever
  • limping

These are only a few of the many autoimmune diseases that could be linked with having Type 1 Diabetes. There are others that could be liked to Type 2 Diabetes, but I did not go into detail about those. For more information on any of these diseases please check out sources like Web MD and especially talk to your own medical team like your endocrinologist or your general practitioner. They can explain these conditions in full detail and what your chances of having them would be more accurately. Also be aware that a common treatment for these other autoimmune disorders is steroids. These may cause your blood glucose to run high. Please don’t start on any medical treatments without being officially diagnosed by your doctor. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your health care routine or diet. Also note that researching things on the internet may not always be reliable, take everything in with a grain of salt and rely mostly on your doctor’s knowledge and expert advice. 

By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 12.7 K members