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  Dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease marked by muscle weakness and skin rash. It mostly affects adults and children though it can also occur at any age. Women are more often affected than men. There are remission periods. Treatment is aimed to improve skin and muscle strength and function.

Dermatomyositis Allergies
Dermatomyositis


Signs and symptoms of dermatomyositis include the following: Patients with dermatomyositis often have dusky red facial rash. This rash is also found on eyelids, areas around nails, knuckles, elbows, knees, chest, and back. There is also muscle weakness that is progressive in nature. Muscles closest to the trunks are more affected. These include muscles of the hips, shoulders, thighs, arms and neck. Weakness usually affects both sides of the body. Difficulty swallowing is another symptom. There is also muscle pain, tenderness, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. For children, calcinosis, infections, and gastrointestinal ulcers are common. There can also be associated lung problems. The skin rash usually occurs with muscle weakness. Weakness of proximal muscles of the trunk can lead to difficulty in climbing stairs, getting in and out chairs and working with an outstretched hand over your head.

Dermatomyositis is considered to be a myopathy. Myopathies are diseases of striated muscles. Cause is usually unknown; however, there is a suspicion that these inflammatory myopathies are autoimmune disorders. Some doctors also suspect possible genetic susceptibility to the disease. The function of the immune system is to defend your healthy cells from microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. In dermatomyositis, something triggers the formation of autoantibodies that attack your body tissues. The small blood vessels in the muscles are usually affected. Destruction of these blood vessels may lead to degeneration of muscle fibers.

See your doctor if have symptoms of dermatomyositis. It is better to have an early detection of the disease. Symptoms and signs can be reversible. Difficulty swallowing or shortness of breath may indicate rapid progression of the disease.

Because of the characteristic rash of this disease, it is the most recognizable inflammatory disease. To confirm the diagnosis, muscle strength examination and detailed study of family history may help. Electromyography can also be used. Changes in electrical activity can confirm a muscle disease. Through blood tests, elevated muscle enzymes can indicate muscle damage. Presence of autoantibodies can also be a finding. A muscle biopsy can also reveal abnormalities. Inflammation and damage will be very visible. Magnetic resonance imaging can also help. Cross-sectional images of muscles can be analyze in any plane or direction.

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing is one of the serious complications. This will lead to weight loss and malnutrition. It can also be the cause of aspiration. Foods or liquids can enter the lungs which may lead to pneumonia. Difficulty in breathing is another complication if the muscles of the chest are involved. Dermatomyositis may also be associated with Raynaud’s phenomenon. This is a condition when your fingers, cheeks or toes turn pale due to exposure to low temperatures. Connective tissue diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome can also occur with dermatomyositis. The heart can also be affected. Inflammation of the msccle of your heart may be evident. Intestitial lung disease is another disease associated with dermatomyositis. Scarring causes the lungs to be inelastic making breathing difficult.

If there are no associated complications, dermatomyositis tends to be better. Early diagnosis is very important because of the importance of prompt treatment and evaluation. Calcinosis can be prevented in children. Pregnancy may complicate dermatomyositis. It can lead to premature or stillbirth. Infections are also increased risk. Respiratory and digestive infections are common. Doctors should monitor for signs and symptoms of infection so that prompt treatment will be given.

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