What is Polychondritis?
As a result of chronic inflammatory conditions of the cartilage in the context of polychondritis, the tissue softens. As a result, the cartilage may deform and eventually become unable to fully perform its normal functions. The disease was first described in 1923 by a specialist in internal medicine, Dr. Jaksch.
A synonym for polychondritis is Meyenburg-Altherr-Uehlinger syndrome. The disease extends over a long period of time and leads to a gradual destruction of the cartilage. To this day, the causes of the disease are not fully understood. Since it is assumed that the immune system is involved, polychondritis is now one of the autoimmune diseases.
So far, the causes of the development of polychondritis are still unclear. Only a few assumptions already exist, but they are not yet covered. However, many physicians and researchers assume that certain autoimmune processes contribute to the development of the disease. For this reason, polychondritis is included in the category of autoimmune diseases.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
Typical of polychondritis are a number of symptoms that are usually very similar in the affected patients. Thus, in the context of polychondritis, the diseased persons suffer from inflammations of the cartilage, which occur recurrently. The temporal stages between the spurts amount to several weeks to several months.
Due to the inflammatory processes inside the cartilage, this loses its stability. Over time, cartilage becomes less able to perform its usual functions and tasks. In principle, polychondritis may occur in all areas of the human organism that contain cartilage.
However, it turns out that, above all, the joints are particularly likely to be affected by the inflammatory processes. The inflammation of the cartilage is usually associated with pain in the diseased areas. The pain conditions are perceived in most cases as very intense by the affected patients. Also in the area of the nose and the ears an occurrence of Polychondritis is possible.
This is true at least for those areas that have cartilage. Due to a loss of firmness in the cartilage of the nose it moves downwards. As a result, there is a more or less visible change in the shape and appearance of the nose. If the polychondritis occurs in the area of the ears and the localized cartilage, a so-called perichondritis usually develops in parallel.
In addition, polychondritis may be associated with some other potential medical conditions. These include, for example, an eye infection, a deterioration of the hearing to deafness and diseases of the valves of the heart. Sometimes, difficulty in breathing develops due to polychondritis, especially if the cartilage of the larynx is affected by the disease.
Although the disease can occur in all cartilage-containing organs and tissues of the organism, polychondritis is primarily found on those cartilages that are often also affected by arthritis. In addition, the cartilage of the nose and ears are often affected by the recurrent inflammation. This results in many patients a so-called saddle nose. The typical deformations of the ear are also known as flower kettles.
Diagnosis & History
Various methods of examination technique are suitable for the diagnosis of polychondritis. In case of suspicion of the disease, the complaints should be promptly clarified by a suitable specialist. At this point, the patient interview takes place, which leads the doctor with the person concerned. In doing so, the patient is instructed to describe to the treating specialist all complaints as accurately as possible.
Also with regard to the living conditions and consumption habits of the person asks the doctor questions. In this way, a suspected diagnosis of the disease is possible. The suspicion is checked and strengthened in the second step of the diagnosis by means of various examination techniques.
Laboratory tests show typical parameters, such as an increase in the C-reactive protein, an increased concentration of antibodies and various rheumatoid markers. In addition, ECG examinations and hearing tests are usually performed.
Polychondritis causes cartilage inflammation in most cases. This inflammation can be associated with pain and other ailments. As a rule, complications occur when this inflammation is not treated and spreads to other regions of the body as well. The stability of the cartilage is significantly reduced by the Polychondritis, so that it can cause difficulties in the everyday life of the patient.
In general, the patient's capacity is also reduced and most sufferers suffer from joint wear and tear. Especially under stress, severe pain occurs, so that sporting activities are no longer possible for the person affected. In children, polychondritis can also delay development.
In many cases, polychondritis also spreads to the eyes, causing ophthalmia. Also, heart problems can be noticeable, with respiratory complaints may also occur. The treatment of polychondritis is done with the help of medication. It usually comes to complications. A healthy lifestyle also has a very positive effect on polychondritis.
When should you go to the doctor?
A gradual decrease in exercise capacity is a sign of a health irregularity. A doctor should be consulted as soon as the person concerned consciously perceives the decline in physical strength or daily life is impaired. An inflammation in the organism, irritability or increased body temperature should be presented to a doctor. If there are general dysfunctions, this is an alarming signal that should be clarified. A loss of hearing, red eyes or abnormalities of the heart rhythm should be examined and treated. A feeling of illness, general malaise and impaired breathing will require a doctor.
Deformations on the face are to be interpreted as a warning signal of the organism. Changes in the shape of the nose or ears should therefore be discussed with a doctor. If instability is detected in the physical regions where cartilage can be felt, the observations should be discussed with a physician. Especially in the face, in the area of the nose in polychondritis, the strength of the cartilage can be checked and adjusted in a few simple steps. Characteristic of the disease are also pain, which are described by the patient as very intense. A visit to a doctor is required to get the right medicine.
Treatment & Therapy
When acute inflammation occurs in polychondritis, cortisone is often used. Otherwise, the therapeutic measures are mainly based on where the complaints are located. Accompanying symptoms of polychondritis are, for example, diseases of the blood vessels, conjunctivitis and inner ear hearing loss. In connection with the polychondritis are also a loss of body weight, fatigue and nocturnal sweating may be treated complaints.
Since the causes of polychondritis have not been sufficiently researched, there are no reliable statements regarding the prevention of the disease.
In most cases, patients with polychondritis have no special and direct follow-up care available. Ideally, a doctor should be contacted early to prevent further worsening of the condition or further complications. A self-healing of Polychondritis can not occur, so that treatment by a doctor must always be done.
The treatment of polychondritis usually takes place through the use of various creams or ointments that contain cortisone and can relieve the symptoms permanently. Patients should definitely pay attention to a correct use and dosage of the creams, so that the complaints can be permanently and properly alleviated.
Since polychondritis can also cause other side effects and discomfort, they should be treated properly. It is especially the loss of body weight to treat, so it does not come to deficiency symptoms. As a rule, no further aftercare is necessary. If the Polychondritis are detected late, it may eventually lead to hearing damage, so that affected people are dependent on the wearing of a hearing aid.
You can do that yourself
Since it is not yet known exactly how a polychondritis develops, only their symptoms can be treated. For example, a hearing loss is compensated with a hearing aid and an eye infection is treated with drops.
Polychondritis is considered an autoimmune disease, so alternative therapies can stem the disease and reduce inflammatory relapses. Alternative therapies include, for example, a drainage or detoxification. There are now many substances that are known to detoxify, such as healing clay, various homeopathic remedies, phytopharmaceuticals or orthomolecular substances. Patients should seek advice from appropriately trained physicians or alternative practitioners.
A special focus in autoimmune diseases is the intestinal culture. It should be cared for with fresh, fiber-rich food, low alcohol, sugar and fat. At the same time, patients should be careful to eat enough, despite possible pain, to avoid unnecessary weight loss.
Although most polychondritis patients are no longer able to exercise, they should move as much as possible. Extensive walks in the fresh air support the immune system in the fight against the inflammatory substances in the body. Also fixed rest periods and sufficient sleep support the healing. Patients with polychondritis should also abstain from nicotine. Support groups are a great way to share with other patients. The corresponding address is provided by the German Rheumatism League (www.rheuma-liga.de).