Autoimmune disorders after gastric bypass: exploring the impact

You may have heard the rumors about gastric bypass causing autoimmune diseases. But did you know that actually, symptoms of autoimmune disorders after gastric bypass can be subsided?

Due to increasing obesity in the worldwide population, the number of autoimmune disorders has also risen. These immune disorders can also disrupt weight loss. This is where gastric bypass can help with weight loss and can help subside the symptoms of autoimmune disorders after gastric bypass. Keep in mind that gastric bypass cannot cure these diseases but it can help manage them greatly.

How do autoimmune disorders disrupt weight loss?

Before, getting into how autoimmune diseases disturp weight loss, we need to talk about how excess weight and these diseases are associated. According to prospective studies, the risk of developing autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis increases along with increasing weight. And could also promote the occurrence of Inflammatory bowel diseases, and type 1 diabetes. Obesity can also worsen the symptoms of said autoimmune diseases and other autoimmune disorders, such as Addison’s Disease and celiac disease.

Autoimmune disorders can disrupt weight loss in several ways. They can be inflammation, autoimmune disorder medications, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and reduced physical activity, and nutrient deficiencies.

You may wonder “Can Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery improve autoimmune system?” Let’s review.

When autoimmune diseases are present, it can be harder to lose weight. And the symptoms may start to affect your daily life negatively. In these cases, gastric bypass can help subside the symptoms of these autoimmune diseases significantly. As a result, you can see significant changes in your overall health with autoimmune disorders after gastric bypass. If you wish to have the surgery, you should consult your healthcare provider to prepare a unique post-op diet and exercise plan to tailor to your needs and health status.

Addison’s Disease

On rare occasions, the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. This occurrence is called Addison’s disease. These hormones help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune response. In short, their absence or lack thereof affects the body negatively.

Some medications like glucocorticoids used to manage this disorder have the potential to lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity does not directly affect or increase the risk of Addison’s disease. However, it can worsen the symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight is important if you have Addison’s disease.

This autoimmune disorder can also make it hard to lose weight as it can also affect the way the body responds to stress, such as physical activities. And when it’s combined with excess weight, hence more inflammation, it can stress the body more. On this occasion, gastric bypass can help people with Addison’s disease lose weight. The weight loss months after surgery can help improve their overall health and you may also need less dosage of corticosteroid medication, which can decrease the risk of its side effects in long-term use.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a mostly hereditary, chronic autoimmune disorder. The body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and destroys them. As a result, the person with Type 1 diabetes has built up glucose in their bloodstream due to the lack of insulin.

Being overweight can make it a little harder to control blood glucose levels in patients with Type 1 diabetes. It can also increase insulin resistance –which disrupts weight loss–, along with the risk of developing health issues like cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.

So, what can gastric bypass do? Does gastric bypass cure type 1 diabetes? Unfortunately, no. Currently, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. But gastric bypass can help with Type 1 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity via weight loss induced by smaller portions and less calorie intake. It can also help reduce insulin resistance, indirectly improves blood glucose levels, and causes rapid weight loss.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive, chronic autoimmune disorder. It affects the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the protective layer around the nerve fibers. It can cause inflammation. Due to this, it can result in fatigue, numbness, muscle spasms, balance problems; vision, speech, and bladder problems. These symptoms can worsen over time.

Being overweight can further worsen the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, indirectly causing the damage to nerve fibers also decline. Being overweight can also make it harder to manage the symptoms. This can make mobility and physical activities hard to perform.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis after gastric bypass can be subsided due to weight loss. As one loses weight, the stress on the body, inflammation, and limited mobility improves. This indirectly causes the quality of life to also improve. Don’t forget that bypass procedure can also help with weight-related health issues.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic joint inflammation caused by an autoimmune response. This condition may lead to inflammation and damage to the bone and cartilage. It can also affect the eyes, heart, and lungs. People with this autoimmune disorder may have physical limitations that could affect their overall quality of life.

Overweight people have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis because of the stress put on their joints, especially on their knees. They can also experience worsened symptoms. This can affect mobility greatly, therefore making the management of its symptoms harder. This indirectly makes it hard to lose weight.

Gastric bypass can help with weight loss. Additionally, patients can observe improvement in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after gastric bypass and can see that they are way easier to manage. Ergo, patients can achieve a new and improved quality of life.

Hashimoto’s disease

Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to a less active thyroid (hypothyroidism). This occurrence causes inflammation and damage and can cause weight gain.

While being overweight can increase the risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease, it also fuels inflammation in the body. Hashimoto’s disease is manageable via hormone replacement therapy. However, being overweight can affect the effectiveness of this treatment negatively.

At this stage, gastric bypass can be deemed necessary for symptom management and weight loss. It can also make hormone replacement therapy more effective, and less dosage might be enough from now on. So, gastric bypass for Hashimoto’s disease can be a viable treatment to manage the symptoms better.

Inflammatory bowel diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic autoimmune disorders that can cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Most of them can be Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Being overweight can worsen symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And it can also increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease complications, such as inflammation, abscesses, and bowel obstructions. Overweight people can have a hard time managing their illness and losing weight, as bowel function takes a hit.

According to some studies, overweight people have a higher risk of developing these disorders. This can be prevented, or if it is already present, manageable easily. The symptoms and hardship of inflammatory bowel diseases after gastric bypass improve and it can promote a healthier life.

Psoriasis and Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriasis is another chronic autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to grow too quickly. It can result in thick, scaly patches on the skin. They can be itchy and/or painful and they can be anywhere on the body. This disorder can also affect the nails, making them thicker and discolored. After a while, if this disorder develops, it can progress into psoriatic arthritis. It’s an inflammatory arthritis, and it can affect any joint in the body.

Being overweight is a risk factor for these autoimmune disorders. If they are already present, their symptoms may be worsened. On top of all that, being overweight can also make it hard to manage these diseases. In other words, It can again affect weight loss.

Gastric bypass can again come to the rescue, and help the patient be relieved of their symptoms of psoriasis symptoms greatly. This not only helps with weight loss but also helps with improving the quality of life.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where consuming gluten can cause damage to the small intestine. This damage can later lead to abdominal pain, malabsorption, diarrhea, and bloating.

Overweight people can experience more severe symptoms of Celiac disease and are at a higher risk for its complications. Excess fat tissue can cause inflammation, and overweight people generally face poor nutrient absorption and insulin resistance. These can affect the way the body responds to stress and can make losing weight harder than usual.

If you are struggling with this disease and excess weight, gastric bypass can help you manage both the disease’s symptoms and lose weight. Celiac disease after gastric bypass can be more manageable. And weight loss via gastric bypass can help better the overall health and quality of life.

Versini M, Jeandel PY, Rosenthal E, Shoenfeld Y. Obesity in autoimmune diseases: Not a passive bystander. Autoimmunity Reviews. 2014;13(9):981-1000.

Lu B, Hiraki LT, Sparks JA, et al. Being overweight or obese and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis among women: a prospective cohort study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2014;73(11):1914-1922. 

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