14 Invisible Illnesses You May Not Know About

admin avatar

by admin |

Share this article:

Share article via email

Invisible illnesses are conditions patients have that are not obvious when looking at them. Often people with an invisible illness face a lot of prejudice; others accuse them of faking, lying or exaggerating their illness. People just don’t fully understand what patients with invisible illnesses are going through.

Just because you cannot see a person’s illness doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Just because a person looks OK doesn’t mean that they’re feeling OK. Invisible illnesses often have no cure and patients need to take medication for the rest of their lives to help control and manage the symptoms.

Here are some of the invisible illnesses that could be affecting your friends and colleagues that you wouldn’t know about unless they told you (based on information from bustle.com): 

Bronchiectasis

This chronic lung disease is usually due to either a childhood infection that has compromised the lungs or another serious lung disease like COPD or cystic fibrosis. Scarring of the bronchi (branches in the lungs) makes breathing difficult and often results in a chronic cough, chest pain, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Here are 10 cystic fibrosis channels you must follow.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Not to be confused with irritable bowel disease, this serious autoimmune disease manifests itself as either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Patients with IBD suffer painful ulcers in their digestive tract leading to many symptoms such as internal bleeding, diarrhea and constipation, abdomen pain, fatigue and weight loss. Many patients will need to have part of their colon removed.

Here are 16 cystic fibrosis tattoos that will inspire you.

Cancer

Cancer comes in many different forms and certainly for most cases you wouldn’t know a person was being treated for cancer unless they told you. While chemotherapy can often make cancer patients lose their hair, other forms of cancer treatment leave no visible outward signs.

Learn more about these nine celebrities who were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Scleroderma

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes an over-production of collagen. This can lead to problems with skin thickening, joint pain, and internal organ complications. While many scleroderma patients suffer from obvious facial and body changes, other scleroderma patients will not have any visible signs of the disease or signs that are hard for an untrained eye to spot.

Learn more about how people with cystic fibrosis use different forms of exercise to keep fit and healthy.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a disease where patients have an increased level of mucus in their vital organs. This primarily affects the lungs and pancreas and is life-threatening. Cystic fibrosis leaves patients susceptible to serious and sometimes fatal lung infections and their pancreas is unable to produce enzymes needed to extract nutrients from food.

Learn more about how researchers are looking into whether Tai Chi improves breathing for people with cystic fibrosis.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a serious lung disease where scarring of the lung tissue leads to chronic shortness of breath and fatigue. Patients may have pulmonary fibrosis as a secondary illness to an autoimmune disease such as scleroderma or lupus.

Learn more about cystic fibrosis and emotional wellness here.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Another serious lung disease which can develop as a result of an autoimmune disease or on its own is pulmonary hypertension. An increase in blood pressure in the lungs leads to the right side of the heart having to work harder to pump oxygenated blood back into the lungs, which can cause heart failure.

Learn more about how to live with cystic fibrosis.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal condition where patients experience extreme pain in various trigger points in their muscles and joints, exhaustion and problems with memory and concentration. The condition usually affects women between the ages of 25 and 60.

Learn more about the evolution of cystic fibrosis life expectancy

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Mostly affecting men over the age of 50, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate causes men to experience problems with urination. The prostate grows until it begins to squeeze the urethra causing pain and other symptoms involved in urination.

Learn more about how to find out if you are a cystic fibrosis carrier.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a very common disease in the U.S. Visible signs of the disease include a persistent cough and shortness of breath. Like most lung diseases, there is no cure for COPD, but lifestyle changes and medical treatments can help to slow the progression of the disease.

Learn more about cystic fibrosis and lung transplants here.

Lupus

Lupus is another autoimmune disease where the immune system begins to attack the body rather than defend it. Lupus can present a variety of symptoms, some of which may be apparent (like a butterfly rash), but others (like flu-like fevers, chronic fatigue, and internal organ complications) are not visible.

Do you know what lungs and a tennis court have in common?  Find out here.

Multiple Sclerosis

There are outwardly visible symptoms of multiple sclerosis but not all patients will be physically handicapped and need a wheelchair. MS presents a variety of symptoms and no two patients experience the disease in the same way. MS is an autoimmune disease which attacks the central nervous system and tampers with the flow of information between the brain and the rest of the body.

Nick Talbot recently became the first person with CF to ever climb the tallest mountain in the world: Mount Everest. 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects a person’s memory and brain function. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be hard to detect during the early years, they may just appear a little forgetful. As the disease progresses, it will become more apparent–patients’ confusion and lack of memory becomes more obvious, as well as the physical symptoms of the disease.

There are many benefits of exercise and activities that stimulate breathing for cystic fibrosis patients. Here are some outstanding examples of how life-changing this all could be.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Many people will suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome as a standalone disease, but some have it as a secondary illness. Many patients will experience the same level of fatigue as those with other invisible illnesses such as MS, scleroderma, and lupus but without the physical complications of these diseases.

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis will vary from patient to patient, but there are commonalities in the way that CF affects the body. Learn more about them here.

Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 


Featured Column

Don’t Overlook Emotional Wellness When Dealing With Chronic Illness

A banner for Lara's column, depicting a car on a road trip winding through a forest.
Living with a chronic illness can affect emotional wellness, writes columnist Lara Govendo, who offers up some ideas for managing both.

Read the Column


Your CF Community


Visit the Cystic Fibrosis News Today forums to connect with others in the CF community.