Connective Tissue Diseases: Types, Diagnosis, Symptoms


When there is damage occurs in your body part which connects the structure is known as connective tissue disease. People with this condition suffer from these following autoimmune diseases. These diseases include

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Lupus

These connective tissues have control over the cells of our body. Collagen and elastin present in the tissues. This disease affects the following body parts. It includes

  • Eye
  • Blood vessels
  • Skin
  • Fat
  • Muscle
  • Joints
  • Cartilage
  • Bones
  • Ligaments

What are the indicators of connective tissue diseases?

This disease can affect many parts of your body and the symptoms depend on which part is affected by the disease. Heart, bones, joints, height, blood vessels, head, face, lungs, and skin are the several body parts affected by the connective tissue diseases.

What are the different types of connective tissue diseases?

As per medical professionals, connective tissue diseases are categorized into two-hundred types. The following are the most common type of connective tissue diseases people often diagnosed with. These diseases include

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Microscopic Polyangiitis
  • Polymyositis
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Undifferentiated connective tissue disease

Let’s discuss the above diseases in detail.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is considered one of the most types of connective tissue diseases and can be inherited. Rheumatoid arthritis comes under the category of autoimmune diseases, which means an improper function of the immune system in a human body. If this disease left untreated, it will affect the

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Eyes

Research shows that this autoimmune disease affects more women when compared with men.


This condition is also an autoimmune disease and it mainly affects the internal organs, small blood vessels, and forms scar tissue in the skin. It has been observed in research that scleroderma affects women 3 times more than men.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

This condition is formerly known as Wegener’s. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis affects the following body parts. These parts include

  • Nose
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys and other organs

Churg-Strauss syndrome

This syndrome is a type of autoimmune vasculitis and it affects the following body parts. These includes

  • Skin
  • Nerves
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Blood vessels of the lungs

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

This disease can cause inflammation to the brain, skin, blood, and lungs which are connected to the tissues. A recent study revealed that this disease is affecting women more than men.

Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA)

It is a rare condition and affects the cells in the blood vessels.


Dermatomyositis is the other name of this disease. It can cause inflammation to the muscles. If this condition affects your skin, then it is called dermatomyositis.

Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)

This disease is also called a sharp syndrome and it has features of Raynaud’s syndrome.

Undifferentiated connective tissue disease

People who are diagnosed with this disease show the features of connective tissue diseases.

What are the causes of connective tissue diseases?

There can be a variety of causes that can include and this is very important to keep in mind. The main cause of associated with connective tissue is going to be family genetics also called as heritable disorders of connective tissue.

Exposure to toxic chemicals, inadequate nutrition, exposure to UV light, infections, and lack of vitamins D and C are considered as the Non-inherited causes of connective tissue diseases.

How to diagnose this condition?

In order to diagnose connective tissue diseases, your physician may review with you about your family history. He or she may conduct a physical examination for knowing your condition better. If these are not enough, then your physician may recommend imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis of your problem.

Blood tests, urine analysis tests, tissue biopsy, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging scans, tests for dry eyes or dry mouth, and tests for antibodies to detect the autoimmune conditions in your body are the several tests your physician recommend you to confirm the diagnosis of connective tissue diseases.

The above tests provide the necessary information or give valuable insights to your healthcare provider or physician.

How are connective tissue diseases treated?

There is no cure for this condition and the main objective of any type of treatment is to ease the symptoms of the disease. The following are the commonly used medications in the management of this condition. These medications include

There is no cure for this condition and the main objective of any type of treatment is to ease the symptoms of the disease. The following are the commonly used medications in the management of this condition. These medications include

  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunomodulators
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Methotrexate
  • Pulmonary hypertension medications


Corticosteroids can stop the immune system to attack healthy cells and also prevent inflammation. Prednisone is an example of corticosteroids. The following are the possible side effects of corticosteroids. These side effects include

  • Shifting in moods
  • Sudden changes in weight due to the use of corticosteroids
  • High blood sugar
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of bones
  • Cataracts


Immunomodulators improve the function of the immunity system and prevent its attacks on healthy cells of your body. Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP), tacrolimus, methotrexate are the different medications that belong to immunomodulators. The following are the potential side effects with the use of immunomodulators. These side effects include

Antimalarial drugs

Your physician may recommend these drugs only in the case of mild symptoms. Some people with connective tissue diseases will have only mild symptoms while others may have severe or debilitating symptoms. Mefloquine, Doxycycline, and Chloroquine are examples of antimalarial drugs. The following are the possible side effects of these drugs. These side effects include

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Getting difficulty in sleeping or unable to sleep
  • Vivid dreams
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the head

Calcium channel blockers

These medications can help relax the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels and can be used in the management of Raynaud’s disease. Amlodipine (Norvasc), Bepridil (Vascor), Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Tiazac, Felodipine (Plendil), Adalat, Procardia, Nicardipine (Cardene, Cardene SR) and Diltiazem are the examples of calcium channel blockers. The following are the possible side effects with the use of these drugs. These side effects include

  • Light-headedness
  • Feeling sleepy all the time
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased appetite
  • Unable to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse
  • Sudden changes in weight due to the use of these drugs
  • Difficulty in breathing or unable to breathe
  • Hives


This medication is ideal for the people who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and can ease the symptoms of this disease. Nausea or vomiting, stuffy nose, pain in the stomach, hives, Diarrhea, sensitivity to the sun, loss of hair, increased risk of infection, loss of energy levels, bruising more easily, dizziness, high temperature of the body, sores in your lungs, bronchitis, sores in the mouth, and painful skin sores are considered as the common side effects of this drug.

Pulmonary hypertension medications

These drugs improve blood circulation to the various parts of your body. It can repair your lungs by reducing the severeness of autoimmune inflammation. Revatio, Viagra, and Tracleer are examples of pulmonary hypertension medications.

Lifestyle changes

A well-balanced diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the chances of getting diagnosed with connective tissue diseases and prevent further infections. It is advised to wear gloves and always keep your hands warm. This simple technique can prevent Raynaud’s disease. Bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol may increase the severity of symptoms and due to this reason, it is advised to stop smoking and reduce your intake of alcohol.


Consult your doctor or a physician immediately if you are diagnosed with any type of connective tissue disease or experiencing the symptoms mentioned above. Your healthcare provider evaluates you for other possible causes of your symptoms before treating the existing condition. Together, you and your doctor can determine the best way to manage your symptoms.



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