Mixed Connective Tissue Disease: Warning Symptoms And How To Manage The Condition

Date January 24, 2018

What is mixed connective disease?

Mixed connective tissue disease is an autoimmune condition that involves connective tissues in the body. This disorder was first recognized in 1972, and sometimes, it is considered as an overlap of systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, and polymyositis. The thing is that people with mixed connective tissue disease show the symptoms of all these disorders, that’s why it can be hard to distinguish them.

The signs typically don’t appear all at once. Moreover, they may occur in sequence over time, which can make diagnosis even more complicated. Some experts believe that mixed connective disorder represents early stages of other disorder, such as systemic sclerosis or systemic lupus erythematosus, while others argue that it should be termed as an autoimmune rheumatic disease.

Early symptoms usually involve the hands. The fingertips become numb and white, and you may notice that your fingers are swollen. In a later stage, the disease can affect heart, lungs, and kidneys. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mixed connective disorder, but doctors can prescribe some medications to manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of mixed connective disease

Early signals of mixed connective tissue disease can include the following:

  • swollen fingers or hands: in some cases, swelling is so severe that fingers resemble sausages;
  • muscle and joint pain: joints can become deformed;
  • general feeling unwell;
  • cold and numb fingers and hands;
  • rash: you may notice re or reddish-brown patches on the skin.

Visit your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms and they affect your daily routine, especially if you already have an autoimmune disorder.

Mixed connective tissue disease can develop in people of any age. However, according to doctors, it seems to be most common in women under the age of 30.

Possible complications of mixed connective tissue disease

Mixed connective tissue disease can result in severe complications, including the following:

  1. High blood pressure in the lungs.
  2. Interstitial lung disease that can cause scarring in the lungs that affects the ability to breathe.
  3. Heart disease.
  4. Kidney problems: mixed connective tissue can cause kidney damage and lead to kidney failure.
  5. Gastric problems: people with mixed connective tissue disease may develop problems with digesting food.
  6. Anemia.
  7. Hearing loss: nearly half of people with mixed connective tissue disease develop hearing loss.

There is no prevention for mixed connective tissue disease, but specific treatment can ease the symptoms. The outlook for this disease depends on the intensity of the affected organs. Early treatment is more effective as it can help prevent serious complications.

Corticosteroids are widely used to manage the symptoms of mixed connective disorder. These medications can bring good results, but they carry risks too. The adverse effects include osteoporosis, infections and muscle weakness. If you take these drugs, your doctor will monitor your condition to avoid the side effects.

Source: MayoClinic, Medscape, MedicineNet

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.