What is an autoimmune disorder?
Your immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more helps protect you from illness and infection. It usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. With an autoimmune disorder Autoimmune Diseases "Auto" is a medical term for "self." The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses... read more , your immune system makes a mistake and starts attacking parts of your own body.
What is an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?
Connective tissue is what holds your organs together. There's some connective tissue in every organ but especially in your skin, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.
An autoimmune disorder of connective tissue is a disease in which your immune system attacks your own connective tissue.
There are many different types of autoimmune diseases of connective tissue, including lupus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is a long-term autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks parts of your own body. Lupus is most common in women between the... read more , Sjögren syndrome Sjögren Syndrome Sjögren syndrome is a disorder in which your eyes, mouth, and certain other tissues are too dry. This can cause eye problems, swallowing problems, and tooth decay. It’s most common in middle-aged... read more , systemic sclerosis Systemic Sclerosis Systemic sclerosis causes scarring in your skin, joints, organs, and blood vessels. Systemic sclerosis is rare It is more common in women than in men and usually happens in people ages 20 to... read more , and rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system... read more
These conditions often affect more than just connective tissues
What are the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?
Symptoms depend on which disorder you have but can include:
Joint pain and swelling
Skin rash, swelling, or lumps
Fingers that get pale, tingly, and numb when you get cold (Raynaud syndrome Raynaud Syndrome Raynaud syndrome is a problem with blood flow in your fingers and rarely your toes. Blood vessels in your fingers close up too much The ends of your fingers turn pale and blue and feel numb... read more )
How can doctors tell I have an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?
Doctors suspect you have an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue based on your symptoms and by doing:
Sometimes a biopsy (taking out a small piece of tissue to look at under a microscope)
How do doctors treat an autoimmune disorder of connective tissue?
Doctors treat these disorders with:
Corticosteroids and other medicine that slow down your immune system and keep it from attacking your own tissue
If you take corticosteroids at high doses or for a long period of time, you have a higher chance of having osteoporosis Osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones. Your bones become thinner and more fragile. This is called a loss of bone density. If you have osteoporosis, your bones break more easily... read more (weak bones). Doctors may have you take vitamin D, calcium, and medicine to keep your bones strong.