Polychondritis is an autoimmune disease that is rare and degenerative. It is sometimes known as Relapsing Polychondritis. With Polychondritis, the body’s immune system attacks the cartilage including parts of the throat, nose, heart, and others. Polychondritis affects men and women equally, usually developing between the ages of forty and sixty. It is often diagnosed along with other autoimmune diseases or connective tissue disorders such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The specific cause of this disease is not clear to doctors at this time.
Symptoms of Polychondritis
The most common symptoms of Polychondritis are tender or painful outer ears, swelling of the ear, and/or discoloration that can turn the ear purple or red. As Polychondritis progresses, one may see an imbalance or vertigo develop that can lead to vomiting, ear infections, hearing loss, and a droopy appearance of the ear. If the cartilage of the nose is affected, sufferers may see a flattened appearance in the bridge of the nose, sometimes referred to as “saddle nose”. Occasionally, Polychondritis will cause an inflammation of the eye socket and this can lead to blindness. If one is dealing with Relapsing Polychondritis, the symptoms may become more severe including the possible collapse of the rib cage leading to problems with breathing, swollen and painful joints with the possibility of the joints becomes arthritic, and damage done to the heart valves and aorta. This can lead to a variety of heart problems.
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