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Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease characterized by muscle weakness and skin rash. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms include muscle weakness, skin rash, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath. While there is no cure, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and preventing complications. The recent tragic loss of Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar at 19 has brought attention to this condition. 

According to Dr Shraddha Deshpande, Aesthetic- Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, at Wockhardt Hospitals Mumbai Central, “Dermatomyositis is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and management. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and preventive measures, you can take proactive steps to protect your health and well-being. If you suspect you may have dermatomyositis, consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.”

Causes and Risk Factors of Dermatomyositis

The exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain factors as shared by Dr Shraddha may increase the risk of developing this condition, including:

– Genetic predisposition

– Exposure to certain viruses

– Environmental triggers such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation

– Gender (women are more commonly affected than men)

– Age (it often occurs in childhood or adulthood)

Dermatomyositis Symptoms

The primary symptoms of dermatomyositis include muscle weakness and skin rash. The rash usually appears on the face, knuckles, elbows, knees, chest, and back. It can vary in appearance, ranging from red patches to purple discolouration. 

Diagnosing Dermatomyositis: Key Tests to Consider

Here are the key tests used to diagnose dermatomyositis shared by Dr Ravi Teja Juloori, Lab Head – TRUSTlab Diagnostics:

1. Creatine Kinase (CK): Elevated levels indicate muscle damage.

2. Specific Antibodies: Anti-Jo-1 antibodies are associated with dermatomyositis.

3. Electromyography (EMG): This test assesses muscle electrical activity, identifying inflammation or damage.

4. Imaging Tests: MRI or CT Scan: Provides detailed muscle and tissue images, revealing inflammation or damage.

5. Muscle Biopsy:A sample of muscle tissue, usually from the thigh, is examined for signs of inflammation or damage.

6. Skin Biopsy: If a skin rash is present, a skin sample is examined for specific dermatomyositis-related changes.

These tests, combined with medical history and physical examination, help diagnose dermatomyositis and plan appropriate treatment. Early detection can lead to better outcomes for patients.

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