11 Fast Facts About Systemic Sclerosis

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease where the body generates too much collagen. This overproduction of collagen causes thickening and hardening of the skin and other organs.

We’ve put together a list of fast facts about systemic sclerosis with help from the Scleroderma Foundation.

MORE: Seven common misconceptions about scleroderma

  1. Scleroderma comes from the Greek words for hard “sclero” and skin “dermo.”
  2. Almost all systemic sclerosis patients will experience hardening of the skin to some extent, many will also have internal organ involvement.
  3. There are two main types of systemic sclerosis: diffuse cutaneous scleroderma and limited cutaneous scleroderma.
  4. Diffuse scleroderma patients can experience skin hardening on any part of their body and are more likely to suffer from organ involvement, particularly the kidneys, lungs, and heart.
  5. Limited scleroderma patients will generally have less skin hardening and are less likely to suffer from organ involvement.
  6. Ninety percent of scleroderma patients will also suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, which causes the blood vessels in the hands and feet to contract in cold conditions causing pain and discoloration.
  7. Many scleroderma patients will suffer from esophagus problems including heartburn, GERD, and difficulty swallowing.
  8. Lung involvement in systemic sclerosis patients can lead to chronic lung conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension.
  9. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of patients will develop kidney failure, however if treated early, kidney problems can be addressed.
  10. Around 10 percent of patients will have heart problems including fluid retention around the heart and disturbances to heart rhythm.
  11. Muscle and joint pain are both linked to the disease and many patients find they have a secondary autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or suffer from fibromyalgia.

MORE: How scleroderma and pulmonary hypertension are connected

Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.