Connective tissue disorders

SLE, Primary Sjogrens Syndrome, Dermatomyositis, Systemic Sclerosis

Typically affecting young women, these are an uncommon group of autoimmune disorders associated with multiple organ involvement and systemic symptoms. The spectrum of severity is wide, most patients having some distressing symptoms rather than serious disease. A smaller group of patients have important organ involvement, including the kidneys, lungs and brain. The conditions may be exacerbated by pregnancy.

The commonest symptoms include small joint pain, muscle pain and weakness, skin rashes, sensitivity to sunlight, dry eyes and dry mouth, mouth ulcers, hair thinning, poor circulation in cold weather (Raynauds) and marked fatigue. The treatments depend on the severity of organ involvement. Many symptoms can be helped with Hydroxychloroquie (plaquenil). Steroids and immunosuppressant drugs may be used in more serious cases.

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