Our body consists of many systems that interact with one another in perfect coordination, and they are physically joint together and held in place by the connective tissues. A connective tissue disease is a disease that targets these tissues and damages them. Connective tissue diseases that you may know already are, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus.
Connective tissues are mainly made up of two important proteins, which are collagen and elastin. People may already be familiar with collagen and it’s no surprise due to its range of involvements in maintaining the strength, flexibility and durability it offers in many structures such as the skin, cornea, bones, cartilages and blood vessels. Elastin on the other hand, similar to how a rubber band works, provides elasticity to skins and ligaments. Ergo, when a patient has connective tissue disease, it means, the collagen and elastin are inflamed and the body part they are connected to will be affected. There are a number of connective tissue disease tests to check whether you have one or not.
At present, there are more than 200 different types of connective tissue diseases and the causes could be due to inheritance, environmental factors, or often are of unknown cause. But the underlying principle is autoimmunity wherein the antibodies attack its own body. Listed are some common connective tissue diseases:
It is one of the commonest connective tissue diseases. In this disorder, the immune cells attack the joints and may also have some varying effects on the heart, lungs and eyes. Women are three times more likely to get the condition.
A condition where scar tissues form in the skin, the intestines, and blood vessels.
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (previously known as Wagener’s granulomatosis)
Inflammation of blood vessel of the lungs and kidneys.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
A disease-causing widespread inflammation of most if not all organs; the brain, skin, blood vessels, lungs.
Due to the wide array of connective tissue diseases, there is no one drug to treat all conditions. The treatment will be more individualised comprising different strategies such as drugs, diet, and exercise. Corticosteroids are frequently used to help clear the signs and symptoms.
Natural ways to help treat and manage these conditions differ from one person to the next, and it is best tailored according to diseases.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Avoid sunlight, and always wear sunblock if you are going out.
Certain antibiotics such as the combination sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim should be avoided.
Garlic is believed to boost the immunity of normal people, but it is counterproductive in SLE.
They should avoid prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Gloves can be worn to avoid the hand temperatures from becoming too low.
Other more general advice include
Inculcating a good heart-healthy diet
Heart disease remains a major risk for all, and some connective tissue diseases may cause inflammation of blood vessels, hence to lower the chances of getting a heart attack or other heart diseases, one should consume more vegetables, grains, fishes and olive oil.
The harmful chemicals present when smoking can cause widespread irritation to the organs and systems, hindering the body from achieving remission and worsening the symptoms of connective diseases.
Cutting down on alcohol
Alcohol poses lots of harm from ingesting them, and it also affects the body’s excretory system causing toxic waste products inside the body to remain in the blood and cause deterioration of disease conditions.
Nothing beats the power of exercise in combating diseases and promoting healthy well-being. This elevates the mood, boosts the immune system and makes the body stronger to heal itself. To know more contact an experienced doctor.