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June is National Scleroderma Month | The Aging Suite
  • June is National Scleroderma Month

    Posted on June 21, 2010 by in Featured

    June is National Home Safety Month; it is also National Scleroderma Month.  What is Scleroderma?  Scleroderma is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes the hardening of connective tissue (including the organs and skin).  Our skin, bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments are all made up of collagen.  With scleroderma, the body makes too much collagen.  Localized scleroderma only affects the skin, while systemic scleroderma impacts internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, and digestive tract.

    Risk Factors

    Scleroderma is a rare disease, with less than 500,000 in the US having the condition.

    • Most common among women
    • Most common among adults 35-50
    • Occurs more often in families with a history of other autoimmune diseases
    • More severe cases noted among African Americans & Native Americans

    Symptoms

    The effects of scleroderma can vary from mild to life-threatening depending on the part of the body affected

    • Fingers and hands become swollen and stiff
    • Fingers become sensitive to cold and may change color when cold or during periods of emotional stress
    • Acid reflux
    • Thickened patches of skin, especially on the fingers
    • Tight skin around the hands, face and mouth

    Treating Scleroderma:

    There is no cure for the Scleroderma but  treatments include

    • Medications that dilate the blood vessels can help prevent lung and kidney problems
    • Drugs used to suppress the immune system
    • Occupational and Physical therapy can help improve the person’s functional independence and strength
    • In some cases lung transplants are performed on people who’ve developed high blood pressure in arteries to their lungs

    It’s important for someone with scleroderma to remain as active as possible, maintaining daily routines to help maintain flexibility.

    Aging in place tips for  someone with scleroderma include; using wide handled kitchen and bathroom utensils such as utensils with built -up grips,  and lever door handles and rocker switches throughout the home.

    To learn more about scleroderma check out these links:  Scleroderma Foundation Mayo Clinic

    Sources

    John Hopkins Scleroderma  Center

    Scleroderma Foundation

    Mayo Clinic

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