This autoimmune disease ranges in severity, but it can be very deadly. Scleroderma is a disease that affects the skin and organs. Similarly to other autoimmune conditions, scleroderma sends inflammation to healthy tissues in the body. The disease will typically tighten the skin and scar body parts. Subsequently, these symptoms can lead to more significant issues with the lungs, kidneys, heart, and other organs.
Scleroderma is a rare disease that only affects about 75 to 100 thousand Americans. Most of those people are women between the age of 30 and 50. It is believed that genetics has a role to play in the development of scleroderma. If you have relatives who suffer from lupus or other autoimmune connective tissue diseases, then you may have a higher risk of developing scleroderma.
Types of Scleroderma
There are two main types of scleroderma: localized and systemic. Localized scleroderma usually only affects the skin. However, this version of the disease can spread to joints, bones, and muscles. It is essential to note this form of the disease does not affect the organs.
Symptoms of localized scleroderma include:
- Discolored patches on the skin
- Areas of thick, hard skin on the arms and legs
- Thin or wide scars
- Muscle degeneration
The second form of scleroderma is systematic. This is the more serious form of scleroderma because it can affect vital parts of the body. Organs such as the heart, lungs, intestines, and kidneys can be affected. Unfortunately, the cause of scleroderma is unknown. Genetics play a significant role in the disease, which is also why it is common for relatives to share the disease.
Diagnosing and Treating Scleroderma
Diagnosing scleroderma is difficult because the symptoms resemble those of other diseases. Blood tests are unable to pinpoint the disease, so the first thing Dr. Brionez will do is ask about the patient’s medical history. She will also perform more tests and take X-rays to check for any abnormalities. Primarily, there is a list of symptoms she will look for to determine the diagnosis.
Scleroderma is not treatable, and there are no drugs that have proven to be effective against the hardening of the skin. Other autoimmune disease medications are not effective against scleroderma. That said, Dr. Brionez aims to reduce individual symptoms associated with the disease. She can help patients handle this limiting disease.
Schedule an Appointment
Dr. Brionez can help patients with their possible cases of scleroderma. It is best to get diagnosed early and start treating symptoms as soon as possible. Give Advanced Rheumatology of Houston a call at (281) 766-7886. Schedule an appointment to begin taking control of this disease.