Collagen vascular disease is an autoimmune disease the mainly affects the collagen in the body.
An autoimmune disease is a disorder which causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly destroy or attack its own body. Collagen vascular disease is also known as a connective tissue disease. The term is used to describe a group of diseases that affects the body’s collagen. The diseases under collagen vascular disease include: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and many more. Collagen is a fibrous protein found in the body. It provides the connective tissues, tendons, and bones their structure.
Causes of Collagen Vascular Disease
The cause of the disease may vary depending on the specific type of disease that has occurred. However, as an autoimmune disease, the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Studies have shown that autoimmune disorders may be passed on from parents to their child through the genes. Stress and fatigue have also caused the body’s immune system to weaken. Environmental factors and ultraviolet rays from sunlight have as well shown ways to trigger such diseases. Autoimmune disorders are not contagious; they can’t be passed from one person to another.
Symptoms of Collagen Vascular Disease
Since a lot of diseases are under connective tissue disease, the symptoms depend mainly on what disease has affected the patient. Each symptom is unique. Generally, some symptoms may be associated with connective tissue disease. Fever is one of the common symptoms of this disease. The damage being done by the immune system to tissues with collagen may induce an inflammatory response. One of the immune responses of the body brought about by inflammation is to raise the body’s temperature causing a fever. A fever may also be accompanied by headaches and chills. However, fever may also be a sign of other diseases like the common cold as well as the flu.
Patients with collagen vascular disease may develop anemia. Anemia is a condition wherein there are low levels of blood cells in the body. Anemia symptoms may include: headache, dizziness, abnormal heart rate, excessive fatigue, pale skin, cold extremities, and breathing difficulties.
As a result of the damage being made in the joints, joint inflammation may occur. Joint inflammation results in the joints looking remarkably swollen, and they may be tender to the touch. Because of the inflammation, movements may be limited. The patient may experience difficulty in flexing the affected joint. Joint inflammation, if untreated, may as well cause chronic pain in the patient. People affected by this disease may as well experience weakness and fatigue (See: Chronic Fatigue Symptoms). This can result in difficulty performing activities of daily living. Excessive fatigue also causes the affected person difficulty remaining alert and concentrating on tasks.
Types of Collagen Vascular Disease
One of the diseases under collagen vascular disease is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the joints. It is commonly manifested by fatigue, swelling of joints, morning stiffness, and pain in the joint areas. Currently, no treatment exists for rheumatoid arthritis. However, the swelling and pain can be relieved with the use of medications and exercises. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. Furthermore, this disease may lead to complications such as joint deformities.
Another type of autoimmune disease is systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. In SLE, the cells responsible for the body’s immune response fail to identify between the organism that causes the infection and a healthy protein in the body which may have the same attributes as the organism. This results in the body attacking its own body’s proteins. This type of autoimmune disease has no cure. It commonly affects children and women.
Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune disorder that commonly affects the muscles. This causes the body’s muscles to become inflamed. The cause of this disorder is unknown. However, it is said to be commonly associated with a viral infection. The symptoms of the disorder may occur suddenly or may appear after several months. It commonly affects women as well as the very young and the very old.
Another type of collagen vascular disease which is also an autoimmune disorder is scleroderma. This type of disorder commonly affects the skin, skeletal muscles, blood vessels, and internal organs. This disease involves an excess deposition of collagen into the skin and internal organs which causes its symptoms. The exact cause of this disease is unknown. It commonly affects people aged 30 to 50 years old. Scleroderma affects females more often than males. This disease is sometimes associated with too much exposure to polyvinyl chloride and silica dust.
Scleroderma may occur together with other autoimmune diseases such as polymyositis and SLE. These cases are referred to as a mixed collagen vascular disease. Scleroderma may only affect the skin while it may also affect the entire body. In localized scleroderma, the skin on the face and hands are the only ones affected while in systemic scleroderma the skin and organs such as the lungs, kidneys, and heart are affected.
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