Mixed connective tissue disease is a combination of connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, and polymyositis. This condition is also called overlap disease. It is an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the representing symptoms are so jumbled that the doctors cannot diagnose a particular disease.
Mixed connective tissue disease is seen more in women than men. Women usually develop this disorder at the age of 50 years or above. It occurs worldwide and can develop at any age. Its peak incidence occurs in adolescent age in 20s.
Can Mixed Connective Tissue Disease Go Into Remission?
Few cases of mixed connective tissue disease go into remission i.e., disappear for many years. It is found that 30% of cases of mixed connective tissue disease go into remission.
Causes Of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
The exact cause of mixed connective tissue disease is not known. The overactive immune system may attack the healthy tissues of the body. They destroy the fibers of the muscles and skin making them rigid and hard. It also causes the inflammation of proteins, namely collagen, and elastin. Genetic anomalies can also trigger mixed connective tissue disease. Usually, patients have a family history of mixed connective tissue disease.
Symptoms Of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
The symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease do not develop together at once; they develop in sequence gradually over a period of years. These symptoms are:
- Pale or tingle or blue coloration of fingers or hands (Raynaud’s phenomenon).
- Mild fever
- Increased tiredness and lethargy
- Red or brown rashes on the knuckles
- Numbness in face or head
- Swollen hands
- Swollen or painful joints
- Deformity in the joints that may affect normal activities of daily routine
- Difficulty in swallowing
- shortness of breath
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease Diagnosis
The diagnosis of mixed connective tissue disease is very tricky. Your physician will study all your symptoms and your medical history. He will perform a physical examination to observe your affected hands and other affected joints. Blood tests are performed to find out the exact antibody present in the blood that can be linked with mixed connective tissue disease. Electromyogram is often used to record the electric activity in the nerves and muscles. Muscle biopsy is also done to evaluate the damage to the muscle fiber.
Treatment For Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
There is no definite cure for mixed connective tissue disease. Treatment depends on the severity of the disease and symptoms representation. It is treated only during flare-ups. It can be treated by following medicines-
Mixed connective tissue disease can be treated like lupus by suppression of the immune system. Corticosteroids are given soon after the diagnosis of the condition. It is prescribed in the early course of the disease. The symptoms are managed. They prevent the immune system from getting overactive and reduce inflammation.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin are prescribed to control mild mixed connective tissue disease.
- Antimalarial drugs can prevent a flare-up of the condition and can manage the milder form of the disease.
- Calcium channel blockers act on the walls of blood vessels to relax them and to treat Raynaud’s disease.
- Hypertensive medicines for the proper functioning of the lungs are also prescribed.
Mixed connective tissue disease is actually a mixture of characteristic symptoms of connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis that a physician cannot distinguish them. They appear in a person one by one. Its symptoms are not severe but there can be a number of symptoms together. Its exact cause is unclear. It involves symptoms like shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing, Raynaud’s phenomenon, painful joints and many more. Immune suppression is the best way to treat mixed connective tissue disease. It can be done corticosteroids, and others discussed here.
Mixed connective tissue disease is an autoimmune disease that comprises few connective tissue diseases like lupus, scleroderma, and polymyositis. Their symptoms overlap with each other. This disease can be managed by suppression of the immune system with medicines like corticosteroids, NSAIDs, anti-malarial drugs, calcium channel blockers, and hypertensive medicines. Mixed connective tissue disease can go into remission.