Studio City area home care professionals work to increase the quality of life for scleroderma patients coping with a variety of symptoms.
The immune system works to destroy any condition it considers “foreign.” When it goes awry, the problems that result are designated as autoimmune diseases. As well as scleroderma, autoimmune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and dozens of others.
Immune systems vary significantly from individual to individual, and so do the symptoms of scleroderma. Symptoms range from minor to devastating. Symptoms can disappear without treatment or they can progressively worsen.
The cause of scleroderma is unknown. It isn’t contagious nor is it malignant. Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is chronic.
What Is Scleroderma?
Connective tissues are fibrous cells with several functions in the body, including:
• Supporting the body
• Storing fat
• Transporting nutrients
• Protecting against disease
• Repairing other tissues
Common types of connective tissue are cartilage and tendons.
Scleroderma is a connective tissue disease. Collagen is part of connective tissue, and the disease causes the body to overproduce collagen. Excess collagen hardens connective tissue.
The first noticeable symptom for many people is hardening, or sclerosis, of the skin. Other symptoms depend on which parts of the body are affected. There is no cure for scleroderma.
More than one type of scleroderma can occur. These include:
• Localized scleroderma – a mild form which affects only patches of skin or muscles. It doesn’t affect internal organs.
• Morphea – localized scleroderma that affects younger individuals, particularly children. It includes waxy patches and often disappears without treatment.
• Linear scleroderma – localized scleroderma that forms a hard line on surface skin, but also affects deeper layers of skin and underlying joints. It starts in childhood and worsens with age.
• Systemic scleroderma – hardens tissue body-wide. The internal organs are no longer able to function effectively. It also hardens blood vessels and muscles.
Scleroderma patients in the Studio City area benefit from home care regardless of which type they have.
How Is Scleroderma Treated?
Scleroderma has such a variety of symptoms and severity of impairment that there isn’t one specific treatment. Doctors treat each symptom as it occurs. Treatment will only control symptoms as there is no cure.
Treatments include, but are not limited to:
• Blood pressure medication to help dilate hardened vessels
• Medications to suppress the immune system
• Medications to help relieve digestive issues such as acid reflux
• Antibiotics to prevent infection of ulcerated skin
• Pain medications when OTC remedies aren’t strong enough
Studio City area home care experts have the training to administer and monitor the effects of various medications.
In the worst cases of scleroderma, surgical procedures such as amputation of fingers or lung transplants may be required.
Scleroderma Patients in The Studio City Area Benefit From Home Care
Although treatment can relieve symptoms, individuals with scleroderma often find daily activities difficult. Home care helps them stay in familiar surroundings. Patients also receive personalized assistance designed to meet their special needs.
Depending on which organs are affected, scleroderma patients may:
• Have digestive issues that require changes in diet
• Have fingers too stiff to do simple tasks
• Have to avoid cold and wear extra clothes
• Have body-wide loss of mobility
Many also experience unrelenting pain.
Although hardening of tissue is the universal symptom for scleroderma patients, other symptoms vary widely. Home care experts have the expertise to help their clients cope with their diverse symptoms. They coordinate care for their clients with physicians and therapists to meet individual needs.
Ways in which scleroderma patients in the Studio City area benefit from home care include:
• Assistance with exercises designed to improve strength and movement
• Assistance with dressing in layers to keep warm and comfortable
• Assistance with dosage and timing of medications
• Assistance with learning alternative methods of doing tasks
• Assistance with meeting dietary requirements
The goal of home care is to help the patient remain as independent as possible.
Because skin hardens with scleroderma, home health care professionals help their clients keep their skin moisturized. They will also help the patient avoid excessively hot water and strong soaps when bathing. Keeping humidifiers working helps with skin comfort.
Patients can develop heart, kidney, and lung problems. High blood pressure is an early indicator of these conditions. It’s important to have a professional monitor blood pressure and ensure that any medications are taken as prescribed.
Home care professionals monitor symptoms such as:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Fatigue not due to exertion
• Swelling in the lower limbs
• Changes in any symptoms
Their training enables them evaluate symptoms and to report changes to doctors.
As well as the physical impairments associated with scleroderma, individuals also have to cope with psychological issues. Being unable to care for themselves leads to depression in some patients. Others lose self-esteem as the disease changes their appearance.
Family relationships can also suffer because patients can feel like a burden to family members. Families often are not able to provide the level of care needed. Counseling for patients and their families are part of the benefits of home care.
Scleroderma significantly reduces the quality of life for patients. Home care in the Studio City area helps to restore independence and to keep families together.