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Connective Tissue Disease

Connective Tissue Disease

Connective tissue disease isn’t just one disease but a group of diseases. Connective tissue diseases affect the various connective tissues in the body. The connective tissues are parts of your body that hold together different cells as somewhat of a framework for your body. A variety of causes lead to connective tissue diseases which can impact different parts of your body, including an abnormal immune system causing inflammation of these tissues. Blood vessel abnormalities are also commonly paired with connective tissue diseases.

Causes of Connective Tissue Disease

There are no known causes of these types of diseases though some risk factors and genetic patterns seem to point to a higher risk in some individuals. This includes several different autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, scleroderms, polymyositis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Many cases of connective tissue diseases also have blood test abnormalities and abnormal antibodies in their blood.

Symptoms of Connective Tissue Disease

Many of the symptoms for connective tissue disease are nonspecific, in that they could be for any number of things. However there are some signs and symptoms that are common in people with a connective tissue disease including joint pain, muscle pain, muscle stiffness, body weakness, fever and dozens more symptoms depending on the cause and type of connective tissue disease it is.

Diagnosing Connective Tissue Disease

If you have any of the above symptoms or simply aren’t feeling like yourself, you should consult a physician. To find connective tissue disease, it will require a physical examination followed by several tests including a blood test and complete blood count, x-rays, and additional tests specifically related to problems with your connective tissues. The treatments for connective tissue diseases vary depending on the cause and the type of connective tissue disease.

Treating Connective Tissue Disease

Connective tissue diseases are common and treatable, though not necessarily curable. A variety of treatment options are available for connective tissue diseases including medications for symptoms like anti-inflammatory medications which will reduce swelling and pain. Additional medications include vitamin C for scurvy, which is one type of connective tissue disease, or cardiac drugs given to people to improve their heart function. Lifestyle changes are also recommended for improving the effects of connective tissue diseases including diet and nutrition and regular exercise.

What are genetic risk factors for developing connective tissue disease?

There are some genetic risk factors that put some people at a higher risk of developing a connective tissue disease. These include Marfan syndrome, ehlers danlos, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma. These types of diseases can lead to connective tissue disease though not in every case.
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