Connective tissue disease refers to a group of disorders that affect the tissues that play an important in binding the other structures together. It can involve eyes, skin, blood, blood vessels, bones, tendons, cartilage or muscles of the body. It can also affect major organs like the heart or lungs. It affects women more than men. Its causes are not clear in every case. Its main symptoms involve shortness of breath, cough, breathing difficulty, painful joints, muscle weakness, lethargy and many more. It can be diagnosed by blood tests, electromyogram and others discussed below.

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How Do You Test For Connective Tissue Disease?

To establish the diagnosis of connective tissue disease, the physician first of all notes down the medical and family history of the disease. Physician asks for the symptoms of the disease, will perform a physical examination to check for rashes, swelling, and pain of the affected joints and others. Doctor will ask the patient for the following tests to confirm the diagnosis-

Blood Tests - Blood tests are performed to find out the exact antibody present in the blood that can be linked with connective tissue disease. It helps to find out the exact disease as the symptoms can be very similar to other conditions.

Chest X Rays- it is used to detect the inflammation developed in the heart or lungs as the disease may cause shortness of breath.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging- MRI scan of the brain and spinal cord is done to check for their involvement.

Lumbar Puncture- it is done to study the affections of the spinal cord.

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Electromyogram- it is used to record the electric signals through the muscles as muscles are weakened by this disease.

Muscle Biopsy or Nerve Biopsy- this is done to establish a definite diagnosis in the area of affected parts.

Types Of Connective Tissue Disease

Some of its types include

Causes Of Connective Tissue Disease

The exact cause of development is not clear in every case. It can happen due to injury or genetic factors. Autoimmune conditions can also cause this condition as immune system mistakenly attacks the connective tissue. It is seen more in some races.

Symptoms Of Connective Tissue Disease

Connective tissue disease symptoms depend on its type and the areas affected by it. Its symptoms that involve lungs are more serious. The symptoms that involve the lungs are following-

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort or pain in the chest
  • A cough with bloody sputum
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Respiratory failure

The symptoms that do not involve the lungs are-

  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • Numbness in the fingertips
  • White fingertips
  • Swelling in the fingers
  • Weakness in the muscles

A connective tissue disease is a group of diseases that lead to the inflammation of proteins in the connective tissue. Connective tissue is a bundle of cells that hold the structures of the body together. They provide nourishment, stability, strength, and support to various organs of the body. It comprises two types of protein, collagen, and elastin. Collagen is fibers that strengthen bone and cartilage. Elastin is protein fibers that stretch the skin and other cells.

Connective tissue disease affects the protein-rich tissue supporting organs and other parts of the body. It affects skin, muscle, fat, blood, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, bone, cartilage, eye, heart, lungs, kidneys, and even gastrointestinal tract. It affects its connection with aligned body parts or organs. Women are more affected by them than men.

Conclusion

Connective tissue disease is the name given to the group of disorders that affect the connective tissues of the body. It's symptoms signal towards its presence. The exact diagnosis of the connective tissue disease is established by medical history, blood tests, chest X-rays and others tests discussed above.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 8, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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