Mixed connective tissue disease is an autoimmune disorder. It comes with a number of symptoms and signs that relate to three different disorders known as lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis. This kind of disorder results in the immune system attacking the body that it should be protecting.
What are the causes?
There is no definitive reason as to why the immune system turns on itself and attacks the body’s tissues. Research suggests that it could be down to a genetic component. This is because the disease is seen in those who have a family history of the disease. There is also a possibility that certain viruses or chemicals within the environment could be involved in the disease.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms do not all display themselves at the same time. Some of the earlier symptoms are fatigue as well as a mild fever. Sufferers also experience cold, numb and swollen fingers as well as painful joints and muscles. As the disease progresses, problems can arise with the kidneys, lungs, heart and other organs.
How to Diagnose Mixed Connective Tissue Disease?
It can often be quite difficult to diagnose Mixed Connective Tissue Disease because of the different symptoms. Therefore, symptoms can arise at different times and over a long period. Doctors might begin the process of diagnosing the disease by asking a number of questions. These relate to the medical history of the individual while they also carry out a physical examination. Specialists will also carry out blood tests that measure the level of an autoantibody. This autoantibody is known as anti-U1-RNP, and is found in high levels in those who have the disease.
How to Treat the Disease
The treatments used to treat Mixed Connective Tissue Disease will depend on what organs have been affected and how severe the disease has become. There are some sufferers who require ongoing treatment and there are others who only require treatment when the disease is active or flares up. Where there is inflammation, individuals are often given corticosteroids that reduce the swelling while immunosuppressive drugs are given to suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the healthy tissue. The disease can come with some complications and so, other medications are given based on these complications.
How to carry out self-care
While individuals are prescribed medication from their doctor, those who suffer from Mixed Connective Tissue Disease can also help to ease the symptoms through the correct level of self-management. They can make significant changes to their lifestyle such as stopping smoking. It is also important that they reduce their exposure to stress and protect their hands from cold temperatures.
They can also use the services of a Rheumatologist who can also help with the right treatment, care as well as provide the required medications such as corticosteroids.