All the internal organs in the body are supported by connective tissues which include the bones, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. These connective tissues help in keeping the body organs strong, in shape and enables them to work properly. When the connective tissues are affected by a disease, then their ability to function properly becomes impaired.
Autoimmune connective tissue disorders occur when the body produces antibodies which mistakenly attack its own tissues, in this case the connective tissues. Some autoimmune connective tissue disorders include:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Simply known as Lupus, this is a condition that leads to the inflammation of the body’s connective tissues.
- Systemic sclerosis: This is a disease that causes damage to the internal organs, skin and blood vessels. It occurs when too much collagen is produced by the body.
- Sjogren’s syndrome: This is a rheumatic condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the mucous membrane.
- Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis: This condition leads to the degeneration and inflammation of the muscles. When the skin also becomes inflamed, it is known as Dermatomyositis.
- Vasculitis: This is a group of diseases that occur as a result of the inflammation of the blood vessels causing them to weaken, thicken and become narrow.
Causes of Autoimmune Connective Tissue Disorders
Although the causes of autoimmune connective tissue disorders are not specifically known, there are certain factors that may increase the risk for developing the disorders. These include
- Genetics (heritable disorders of connective tissues)
- Environmental factors
- Certain infections
- Lack of proper of inadequate nutrition
Common Symptoms of Autoimmune Connective Tissue Disorders
Symptoms of these connective tissue disorders vary, and they may include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Swollen fingers or hands
- Weakness of the muscles
- Fever and fatigue
- Dry eyes and mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome)
- Kidney problems
- Skin rash
When to See a Doctor
If you suffer from multiple of the above-mentioned symptoms of autoimmune connective tissue disorders that may be interfering with your day-to-day life, and you suspect you may have one of the said connective tissue conditions, it is recommended to see a Rheumatology specialist.
Treatment of Autoimmune Connective Tissue Disorders
Depending on the type of autoimmune connective tissue disorder, different treatment approaches may be employed. This can include immunosuppressive drugs, physical therapy, and supplements. In most cases, the specialists end up treating the different symptoms as they develop.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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Dr Tharaq Barami is considered the best Rheumatologist in Dubai.
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