Scleroderma is not a very well-known disease, and for this reason it is rather difficult to diagnose. Here’s how to recognize it and how to cure it.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, due to a malfunction of the immune system, which attacks its own tissues. This disease mainly affects the skin, but in more severe forms it attacks the internal organs, especially the lungs. It is important to know how to recognize it to begin the treatments as soon as possible. Let’s learn everthing about this disease, its causes and symptoms and what the best cures are.
Scleroderma, symptoms and causes
Scleroderma is a disease that predominantly affects women between the ages of 30 and 50 years. In the majority of cases, the disease begins with a change in finger sensitivity. They react excessively to temperature changes by changing color, hurting and tingling. This symptom is called Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Then, an abnormal thickening of the skin occurs, because the skin starts reparing itself too much. Other nonspecific symptoms, and therefore hardly related to scleroderma, are gastroesophageal reflux, itching, joint pain, and breathing difficulties.
Since scleroderma symptoms are so general, this disease is often diagnosed very late, thus preventing to stop it at its beginning. Doctors still do not know what are its causes: it seems, however, that some viruses may trigger the abnormal immune response against the body tissues.
Currently, there is no definitive cure for scleroderma. To keep the symptoms under control, doctors commonly use NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and cortisone. Immunosuppressants can also slow the disease, since they act on the immune system.
In recent years, researchers have investigated the use of vasodilators to reduce capillary suffering: calcium channel blockers and antithrombotics are in the front line against scleroderma. For the other non-specific symptoms, such as gastroesophageal reflux, you can use over-the-counter medicines.
When you start to cure this disease, it is fundamental to immediately stop smoking. Cigarettes have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system, reducing vasoconstriction, and, of course, they increases the risk of lung diseases.
Scleroderma, the prognosis
Scleroderma is a disease that can result in death, especially if its treatment is delayed. In general, after 2 to 5 years after the onset of symptoms there is a phase of greater risk. After this period you may have a stabilisation phase or even an improvement of the disease.
The milder form, the scleroderma of the skin, has a favorable prognosis in 80/90% of cases. While the most severe form, the so-called systemic scleroderma (which also involves internal organs), has a worse prognosis and can be fatal, especially due to pulmonary hypertension.
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