Hidden Illnesses

Ten percent of people living in the United States have a medical condition that can be characterized as an invisible or hidden disability.

Hidden disabilities may not be visible on the outside or immediately apparent; however, their symptoms can be physically and mentally limiting (impairing individuals from leading a normal life). These limitations are often the result of chronic hidden illnesses such as:

  • Lupus- A chronic autoimmune disease that can cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue. Symptoms include damage and swelling of the skin, joints, kidneys, heart and lungs.
  • Cystic fibrosis – A progressive and chronic genetic order that causes persistent lung infections. Symptoms include salty-tasting skin, frequent lung infections, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, greasy or bulky stool.
  • Chronic fatigue- A debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that does not go away with rest. Symptoms include chronic insomnia, frequent headaches, loss of concentration or memory, muscle pain or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Lyme disease – An inflammatory disease caused by bacteria that are transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Symptoms include rashes, severe headaches, inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Fibromyalgia – A chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and bones.  Symptoms include severe pain, fatigue or difficulty concentrating.

Living with a hidden disability or hidden illness can be difficult because those diagnosed are often met with skepticism due to a lack of knowledge.  Another challenge that a person living with this type of illness or disability may encounter is social isolation.

There are a few things that can be done to overcome these challenges such as educating loved ones and others about your disability, inviting loved ones to your medical appointments or joining a support group.




All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.