Sjögrens Syndrome is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body's white blood cells attack glands that produce saliva and tears, causing dry eyes and difficulty swallowing. It often occurs along with other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It can develop at any age, but the majority of people who have it are over the age of 40. Women are much more likely to develop it than are men. Since symptoms of this disease mimic other conditions, it can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Raynaud’s phenomenon affects blood vessels, mostly in the fingers and toes. In this condition, the body’s reaction to cold or stress is stronger than normal. Blood vessels in the extremities narrow fast and tight, and can make your extremities uncomfortable. Fingers and toes may change colors, and feel cold and numb. As blood flow returns, fingers or toes can throb and tingle. People of all ages can have it, and it may run in families.
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
Mixed connective tissue disease is something of a puzzle. It creates symptoms from a combination of disorders that appear in sequence over a number of years, which can make diagnosis complicated. Early signs and symptoms often involve the hands. Fingers may swell and fingertips can become white and numb. In later stages the lungs, heart and kidneys may be affected. Although there is no cure, it can usually be treated with medication.
Inflammatory myositis (also known as inflammatory myopathy) involves chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. It may be triggered by an allergic reaction, exposure to a toxic substance or medicine, another disease or an infection. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, and is quite rare. Symptoms include progressive muscle weakness and often begin with frequent tripping, weakness in the wrists and fingers, and atrophy of muscles in forearms and quads.
Scleroderma is a rare disease involving the hardening and tightening of skin and connective tissues. Sometimes it affects just the skin, but for many people, it also harms blood vessels, internal organs and the digestive tract. It is caused by overproduction of collagen. Doctors aren't certain what triggers it, but the body's immune system appears to play a role. Although it can’t be cured, a variety of medications can help control symptoms and prevent complications.
Vasculitis (also called angiitis) is inflammation of blood vessels. It causes them to thicken, weaken, narrow and scar. This condition can restrict blood flow in your body, and can eventually cause organ and tissue damage. There are several types of the disease, and symptoms vary depending on what type the patient has. Some types of vasculitis can progress quickly, so early diagnosis is key to getting effective treatment.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that causes muscle pain, especially in the shoulders. Symptoms come on quickly and are usually worse in the morning. It rarely affects people under 50, and is related to another inflammatory disorder which can cause headaches, vision difficulties, jaw pain and scalp tenderness. Anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve symptoms, but relapses are common, and you'll need to visit your doctor regularly to watch for side effects from medications.