14 Invisible Illnesses You May Not Know About

Invisible illnesses are conditions patients have that are not obvious to others by 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):

MORE: Five diet tips to help you to control fibro flares

1. 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 signs.

2. Scleroderma: Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes an overproduction 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.

3. 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.

MORE: Six things you should say to someone with fibromyalgia

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

MORE: Breaking down fibromyalgia treatment into the four ‘R’s

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

MORE: Seven things people with fibromyalgia want non-sufferers to know.

10. 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.

11. Inflammatory bowel disease: Not to be confused with irritable bowel disease (IBD), 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, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss. Many patients will need to have part of their colon removed.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

MORE: Seven things fibromyalgia patients want you to know about the condition

Fibromyalgia 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 another 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.

One comment

  1. Mary Monju says:

    To Whom This May Concern:
    Please look up and buy the three books written by a man named Anthony William. He’s written: MEDICAL MEDIUM; MEDICAL MEDIUM FOODS THAT HEAL; MEDICAL MEDIUM THYROID HEALING. I urge you to find these books, on Amazon or at a local bookseller, and read these books because he relates the true cause of FBM and the other silent, invisible diseases listed here, among others. It’s important to realize that he knows what he’s talking about because he gets his information from the highest source out there. It’s also important to realize that he gives guidelines to cures for the diseases listed here, as unbelieveable as it seems. Doctors don’t know everything. Yes, they may provide relief, but that’s for symptoms, not the root cause, and at what cost due to side effects of meds that further cause health problems?! Anthony offers healing side effects and a way to live life again! Isn’t it worth that to investigate and read what he relates, in full, keeping an open mind and a willing though doubtful curiosity to follow through on his recommendations? What do you and anyone else have to lose…but a disease or two…and gain a chance to live a full life again?! Be curious, not condemning, or brushing off a chance to let go of shackles in fear of what you’ll lose by gaining?! Yes! Change will occur! Take it at your pace. It’s your life, your body and health…don’t abruptly stop taking medicines! Wean off of them as you begin to heal. Remember! Your body needs you to connect consciously with it, to accept it, to be with it, to know it’s vulnerable and scared of what it needs…it’s change! So go at your body’s pace, physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically….
    Yes! Your body is you, but how out of touch are you, the ego, the so-called conscious mind, with your body?! When was the last time you appreciated your body and thanked it for carrying you all these years and caring for you? When was the last time you cared for it so well?! These books will help you learn how to do just that. Your body thanks you for heeding this message and buying and reading these books. Did you have a full body giant shiver as you read the previous sentence or two? Your body knows. You are the soul, awake yet not aware, (shiver?!) but your body, the animal of the human animal, is aware AND awake! Shiver?!? I’m a student, too. Be observant, pay attention, focus, slow down, think, repeat, now, and take the time to make the time to be, here, now, in each moment, now. That’s all we have, forever!

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