Scleroderma comes mainly in two forms, the localized form of which would only affect a single area and another from which would affect internal organs known as systemic sclerosis. The localized form is also known as “morphea” and although it could disable a patient, it would not be fatal most of the time. Systematic sclerosis however, since it interferes with the internal organs and their functions would be fatal most of the time. Common cases of death from systemic sclerosis are renal and lung related cases.
Scleroderma occurs when your antibodies would attack your tissues instead of protecting them that in turn would lead to the development of scar tissue on the affected areas or thicken it. Women are four times more likely to develop this disease than men are and it usually develops within 30 to 40 years of age. This disease is inherent in the Native American Choctaw race and African-American women and rarely occurs to North Asians. It also rarely occurs in children.
What Can Cause Systemic Sclerosis?
It is known that scleroderma is an autoimmune disease however, only part of the pathogenesis is understood and because of that, medical experts have developed various theories that would refer to the causes of scleroderma. One theory would say that scleroderma is largely environmental and is brought about by unwanted factors in the environment such as bacteria and viruses while another would say that it is genetic and with that, heredity plays a big role.
Some of the substances which are suspected to cause scleroderma are insecticides, epoxy resin, appetite suppressants, silicone implants, drugs and some amino acid compounds. One medical expert also said that the fetal matter left after pregnancy that is still running in the bloodstream can also cause systemic scleroderma. These theories however are not yet proven.
What Can Happen To A Systemic Sclerosis Patient?
A patient with systemic sclerosis can have limited functions in various organs at the same time, most of the time being with the heart, kidneys and lungs. With that, a patient will also show the illness through some visible factors that can be seen especially in the face, neck, fingers, elbows, knees and toenails. If not managed effectively, systemic sclerosis can spread onto other organs or could develop into another disease other than scleroderma.
When it comes to systemic sclerosis, renal and lung related problems are usually the common causes for mortalities. Pulmonary hypertension, which is one of the most common causes of deaths in systemic sclerosis accounts for about 12% of all deaths.
How Can Systemic Sclerosis Be Treated?
Since the cause of scleroderma is not yet known, there is also no known medication for scleroderma instead, the approach for treating systemic sclerosis is patient specific and would depend on which organs are affected by it. Treatment is also focused for limiting the damages done by scleroderma and for alleviating symptoms rather than completely remove scleroderma from a patient.
Treatment is usually done by medications that would vary depending on the case and on which organs are affected. Alternative medications are also given to people who cannot be helped or would develop side effects from the medications that were first taken. For some cases especially for those having problems with organ function, they would have to undergo therapy that would attempt to restore normal organ activity.