Scleroderma is a group of rare diseases characterized by the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissue – the fibers that perform a supporting and structural function for the body.

In some people, the disease only affects the skin. But in most cases, it causes damage to structures outside the skin such as blood vessels, internal organs and the digestive tract.

Clinical manifestations are different depending on which structures are affected.

The disease affects women more often and in most cases appears between the ages of 30 and 50.

Although there is no cure for it, there are many procedures available to those affected that can relieve symptoms and lead to an improvement in their quality of life.

What are the symptoms?

As mentioned above, the manifestations of the disease vary depending on which parts of the body are affected:

Skin – almost all affected develop plaques in which the skin is unusually taut and very hard. These spots can be oval in shape or represent straight lines. The number, location and size of the plaques varies depending on the type of disease. The skin may appear shiny because it is so tight and too tight that it may become a reason to restrict movement near the affected areas.

Fingers and toes – one of the earliest signs of the disease is an overreaction of the body to cold temperatures and emotional stress, which can cause numbness, pain or changes in the color of the fingers on the hands or feet. This condition is called Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, it occurs in people who have not yet developed scleroderma.

Digestive System – in addition to acid reflux, which develops and can damage part of the esophagus near the stomach, some affected may have problems absorbing nutrients if the intestinal muscles they do not properly conduct food through the intestines.

The heart, lungs or kidneys – rarely the disease can affect and disrupt the function of these organs, and depending on the degree of loss of function, this can be life-threatening.

What are the causes?

The disease is due to the overproduction and accumulation of collagen in the body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous protein that makes up the connective tissue in the body, including the skin.

Although doctors are not sure what causes this abnormal production, it is thought that the immune system in some unknown way stimulates it and subsequently causes its inflammation.

Scleroderma treatment

There are a number of measures you can take to help control your symptoms:

Keep physically active – exercise will keep your body flexible, help improve circulation and reduce stiffness. Aerobic exercises will help maintain the flexibility of the skin and joints.

You shouldn’t smoke – nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, which worsens Raynaud’s syndrome attacks. Smoking can cause a permanent reduction in the volume of blood vessels, quitting is usually true challenge, so ask your doctor for help.

Control heartburn – avoid foods that cause heartburn or gas. Also avoid midnight meals. To avoid stomach acids entering the esophagus during sleep, lie down to sleep in such a position that the upper part of your body is located higher. Antacids also help relieve reflux.

Protect yourself from the cold – wear warm gloves to protect your hands from the cold, even when you have to go into the freezer often, even though the temperatures outside may be high.

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