4 of the Most Common Questions About Scleroderma

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Scleroderma is a disease that primarily affects the skin, which becomes thickened due to the body’s overproduction of collagen. While the skin is almost always affected in cases of scleroderma, many people living with the disease will also experience other symptoms involving other organs. According to the Cleveland Clinic, here are some of the mot common questions asked about scleroderma:

MORE: Eleven fast facts about systemic sclerosis.

Is scleroderma inherited?
Generally speaking, scleroderma is not inherited and most patients do not have any close family members with the disease. However, there are a few cases of familial scleroderma. In particular, Choctaw Native Americans from Oklahoma are at an increased risk of inheriting the disease.

Why are people with scleroderma often short of breath?
Along with the skin, the lungs are often affected by the overgrowth of collagen which can lead to lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease. The heart may also be affected, which can lead to an elevated blood pressure in the lungs and pulmonary hypertension.

MORE: How scleroderma can affect the lungs. 

How does scleroderma affect the gut?
Many scleroderma patients will experience gastrointestinal problems, but to varying degrees. Symptoms can range from constipation and diarrhea to acid reflux and heartburn. In addition, the muscles in the esophagus may be damaged by scleroderma which may lead to difficulty in swallowing.

What can be done to help ease symptoms such as joint pain and fatigue?
Fatigue is a common symptom of scleroderma but your rheumatologist will need to discover the source of the fatigue. Thyroid problems, sleep apnea and anemia are all reasons why a person with scleroderma could be suffering from fatigue.

Joint pain could be due to inflammatory arthritis, so your rheumatologist should be able to give you medications to help ease the pain.

MORE: Five sources of pain in scleroderma.

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.