Connective Tissue Disease is a term used to define a group of diseases that affects the connective tissues.
Connective tissues are tissues that have a “connecting” function. They are made up of fibers that are used to form the body’s framework and support the different body tissues and organs. Other functions of connective tissues are for protection, cushioning, strengthening, and insulating the organs and tissues in the body. Examples of these connective tissues are ligaments, tendons, blood, bones, cartilages, and the skin’s dermis. These tissues can be found in every part of the body which causes different symptoms to appear if a disorder exists. This may include dysfunction in the affected area as well as pain.
What is Connective Tissue Disease?
Connective tissue disease is one of the most common illnesses. Some of these diseases can be inherited by the children from their parents. Examples of these inheritable diseases are Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome.
Connective tissue disease may also be a result of abnormalities in the body’s immune system. The immune system misguidedly targets the body’s own connective tissues. These causes damage to the tissues resulting to inflammation. Such autoimmune disorders that affect the connective tissues are polymyositis, dermatomyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
These diseases may be sometimes fatal. It is recommended to know and as well as identify the symptoms of the different diseases. It is also important to identify serious symptoms such as: excessive sweating, difficulty of breathing, blue or pale lips, tachycardia or rapid heart rate, joint deformities, chest pain, high fever, and vomiting of blood.
Connective Tissue Disease Symptoms
Connective tissue disease symptoms may vary from one person to another. It can depend on the tissues involved. In some cases, people with this disease may not exhibit any symptom at all, and some may exhibit severe symptoms. In heritable diseases, the affected individual may not exhibit any symptom until the person reaches puberty or adulthood, although in some cases, the symptoms appear immediately after birth.
The disease causes inflammation of the fat, bone, cartilage, ligament, skin, and tendon, which results in variation of symptoms depending on the affected part. The intensity of the symptoms can as well vary among individuals. Furthermore, the frequency also varies. A person may experience symptom attacks daily or occasionally, but the person may experience severe symptoms any time without warning.
The most common symptom of these diseases is usually manifested in the bones and joints. The symptoms may appear occasionally or daily. As a result of the connective tissues being destroyed, the patient may experience severe pain, redness, and swelling in the joint area. The disease may also interfere with growth because of tissue destruction causing growth problems. The joints may as well appear loose or tight.
Another common manifestation of the disease is skin problems. Scars may appear as the tissues are destroyed. Furthermore, because of tissue destruction, discoloration of the skin such as bruising and skin blisters may appear. The skin can also stretch or fold excessively, or may be too loose.
Other symptoms of the disease are fatigue, lethargy or body malaise, muscle stiffness, pain, anemia, and swelling of the hands and fingers. In cases wherein the disease is caused by an infection, the affected person may develop high fever. Furthermore, symptoms that are life-threatening can occur. Such symptoms are chest pain, breathing difficulties, high-grade fever, joint deformities and dislocation, rapid heart rate, and vomiting of blood.
Connective Tissue Disease Treatment and Management
The treatment of the disease begins with consulting a health care provider. A health care provider may ask you to undergo a series of test, which includes medical history and physical examination and other diagnostic tests. The physician will first ask about the symptoms experienced as well as when it started or how. The disease requires specific treatment depending on the symptoms. Because of the disorder’s inflammatory characteristic, the physician may prescribe the patient with anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the patient of pain, redness, and swelling. Specific medications are prescribed as well depending on the type of connective tissue disease and the patient’s overall health status.
The treatment of connective tissue disease also includes certain lifestyle modification. This is to optimize the patient’s health status and to aid in reducing symptoms. It is recommended for the affected person to keep self adequately hydrated and have a balanced nutrition as well as to avoid foods that may aggravate the symptoms. The patient should also have regular exercise. Rest is also important to reduce the stress in the affected joint and prevent further injury.Furthermore, maintaining an optimal body weight aid in reducing stress in the affected area, especially if it concerns the joints in the lower body. It is also important for the patient to undergo follow-up checkups to monitor the patient’s health status and the progress of the disease.