Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder Is Mixed Bag

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder Is Mixed Bag

Article excerpt

Dear Dr. Donohue: I have mixed connective tissue disease. That's what I'm told. I also have Sjogren's syndrome and Raynaud's syndrome. I was first told I had lupus. Then, after many blood tests, they changed the diagnosis to mixed connective tissue disorder. Please unravel all this for me.

You describe a classic case of mixed connective tissue disorder. It means there is a smattering of symptoms prominent in various other similar diseases, each involving the body's connective tissue, which is the substance that holds the body and organs together. An example would be collagen tissue.

Connective tissue illnesses might exhibit the joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis or, say, the swallowing problem of scleroderma. The skin rash of lupus can appear as another facet of the same connective tissue disease array. See what I mean?

Fully 80 percent of patients with mixed connective tissue disorder are women, with average age of onset 37 years.

You are an example of the confusion that often precedes a final diagnosis. The disparate signs often lead down blind alleys.

Raynaud's syndrome, a sensitivity of hands to coldness, can be a part of a mixed connective tissue disorder. So can Sjogren's syndrome, which includes symptoms such as dry eyes and mouth.

Anti-inflammatory drugs - indomethacin, ibuprofen and the like - are often tried. If they do not control things, then hydroxychloroquine is given. Cortisone might be needed to tame severe symptoms.

*****

Dear Dr. Donohue: Is there help for me? I was diagnosed four years ago as having no stomach acid! So I eat my food with grapefruit, dill pickles, lemon juice and vinegar. I have varicose veins at my ankles. I have constipation and take laxatives. Is it possible that this is all due to absence of stomach acid? I am 74.

Let's start with a clean slate, OK? …

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