Inaba has several “invisible illnesses” and recently decided to take a break from the talk show to better manage her symptoms

By Julie Mazziotta
April 27, 2021 01:26 PM
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Carrie Ann Inaba announced Monday that she's taking a leave of absence from The Talk to work on improving her health, a major concern for the talk show host as she manages multiple chronic illnesses.

Inaba, 53, has several autoimmune conditions that have impacted her health over the last few years, all "invisible illnesses" that can be isolating and difficult to manage, both physically and mentally, she has said.

"Going through life with an autoimmune condition, or several, like I do, can be a difficult process," she explained in a post on her online wellness platform, The Carrie Ann Conversations.

Inaba has been diagnosed with Sjorgren's syndrome, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, "and I have the markers for antiphospholipid syndrome, which can lead to blood clots."

Carrie Ann Inaba The Talk
Carrie Ann Inaba
| Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

"Coping with autoimmune conditions can sometimes feel quite lonely," she said. "When I first got diagnosed, some encouraged me to keep my struggles to myself, but I've found that it's always been better to be honest about my needs and realities than to stay silent. I believe strongly in sharing my journey, my solutions, and the things that have helped me with anyone who could use it — this is how communities are formed."

Here's what to know about Inaba's conditions.

Sjorgren's syndrome

This common, but incurable autoimmune disorder causes dry, burning eyes and dry mouth, to the point where it can be hard to swallow or speak. It can also lead to joint pain, swelling and stiffness, and dryness in other parts of the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Inaba shared some of the products that help her manage the condition — from eye drops to face mists to oils and mouth sprays — on her website. "As a Sjogren's Sister, I'm always battling dryness and do whatever I can to keep myself feeling comfortable," she said.

Lupus and Fibromyalgia

Lupus, another common but incurable autoimmune disease, is the result of the body's immune system attacking its own tissues and organs, causing fatigue, joint pain, rashes and fever, particularly after spending time in the sun. People with lupus often alternate between having the condition under control and suffering flare-ups when symptoms come on strong. And fibromyalgia, which is also incurable, has many of the same symptoms — it's fairly common for patients to have both conditions. Fibromylagia, though, brings additional side effects: fatigue, poor sleep and memory and mood issues.

Inaba said last May that the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of concern for her health, which in turn caused what is likely a flare-up.

"I feel that my body is constantly exhausted and I'm always just on the verge of a flare and if not in a flare, I've had pain all throughout this whole time," she said.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Carrie Ann Inaba's leave of absence from The Talk.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Also an incurable inflammatory disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, can cause joint pain and damage all over the body. People typically have painful swelling in their joints, and if it goes unmanaged, it can lead to bone erosion and deformities.

Managing Her Illnesses

Inaba said that "for years, I tried to fight the fatigue, I tried to push through the pain, and I tried to ignore the discomfort. But eventually it becomes too much to ignore." She had to accept that her health wasn't something she could fight, Inaba wrote, and that she was "a 'sick person,' a person with limitations."

And getting a diagnosis was a relief.

"Once I was diagnosed, it's like I got my life back," she previously told PEOPLE. "I am so grateful. There's a blessing in some of these health conditions because it gives you a greater awareness of your own health. It makes you take care of yourself and realize it's a very important component of a healthy lifestyle is to see the doctor regularly, make sure that you're keeping up all your checkups and getting the right tests."