Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that happens when the antibodies, instead of protecting the body would attack the tissues causing them to degrade or limiting the affected area’s functions. It primarily deals with the connective tissues, those of which act like glue and bind our cells together. Since these connective tissues are found almost everywhere on our body, scleroderma is able to affect all of them primarily the skin and the organs.
Scleroderma is quite rare as it is only found in 14 out of every 1 million people worldwide. Scleroderma mostly occurs in women more than it does on men however, it can kill more men. It is likely to develop between the ages of 30 to 50 and is inherent in some races such as the Native American Choctaw tribe and African-American women. It is also very rare that it would develop in children.
How Does Scleroderma Affect The Lungs?
Scleroderma can affect the lungs just as it could affect other organs and limit their functions. While scleroderma would affect the skin in most cases, another one of the most common organs that scleroderma would attack are the lungs. This happens when the antibodies attack the lungs causing its surfaces to toughen and limiting the lungs’ functions. With that, scleroderma lung involvement can also lead to the rise of other complications with the lungs and even with the heart. Some of these complications can be pneumonia, lung abscess, pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis.
Fortunately, lung involvement in scleroderma can be managed with some medications and some processes. While these may not remove the disease entirely from the person, it could give relief and as well as minimize the damages done by scleroderma. This is the typical approach when it comes to treating all forms of scleroderma.
How Is This Diagnosed?
If one would have the development of calcium deposits in the skin as well as experience pain or problems with some organs, then that person is most likely to be a victim or systemic sclerosis. As for lung involvement, the patient would go different medical tests to see how the lungs are functioning. One common test that can be done is pulmonary function testing which will have the patient breath through a machine and from there; the doctor will be able to tell how well the lungs are functioning.
Another test that could be done is an open lung biopsy of which the doctor will take a sample scraping from your lungs and have it observed to see what can be done with your condition and what medications you could take to relieve you from your symptoms.
How Is This Treated?
With scleroderma not having a known cause, it also has no known cure. While medications are available, these only limit damages done by the illness and as well as relieve a patient from symptoms. For scleroderma lung involvement, a doctor could give you an immunosuppressive, this of which would try to limit the amount of antibodies produced. If a patient should not find relief from this medication or should develop other side effects, other therapies can be made.
Other therapies that can be done to relieve a patient from the symptoms of scleroderma lung involvement are antifibrotic therapy which in attempt would try to lessen the fibrous surfaces of the affected area, antiendothelin therapy and anticytokine therapy.