Re: Chronic, systemic inflammation
If I may inquire, what are you seeing your rheumy for? In any event, systemic inflammation is often the first sign of an AI disease, but a high sed rate, one measurement of that, can be caused by any number of processes. Same thing goes for the CRP test. And it is true that having one AI disease raises the risk of having another, but that is a very small raise. A rheumatologist is generally the specialist who deals in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatiod arthritis, lupus, MCTD, UCTD, scleroderma and such. Other autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Grave's disease are treated by an endocrinologist or general practioner. As far as treatments go, there are drugs such as the DMARDS, like hydroxychloroquinine which are used in many of the classic AI diseases to control them which in turn lowers systemic inflammation. There are other biologics and chemo drugs as well used in the classic AI diseases such as RA and lupus. Each disease has it's own drugs which may work better than others while some diseases, such as Scleroderma have no approved drug treatment at all. I know scleroderma best, so I'll use that as my illustration. Some diseases such as Graft vs Host disease produce the same or similar symptoms to it, have a definite cause. Exposure to silica dust and polyvinyl chloride can induce a scleroderma like disease. An environmental trigger such as a virus exposure has been hypothesized as well as a genetic component to the development of scleroderma. Research has not yet produced any conclusive evidence of either so far, although there have been tantalizing hints. Scleroderma is a very old disease, predating modern environments like rheumatiod artritis is a very old disease. There are systemic forms of it that are recognized specifically for multi-organ symptoms, such as CREST. It involves the vascular system, the entire esophogeal-gastro-intestinal system, the skin, the kidneys, and often involves the eyes and genitourethral systems. It also can appear sine- which means without it's defining skin symptoms. There are no approved drugs for it. Often treatment consists of symptom alleviation, if possible (there is no drug that will reverse skin hardening as of now) and use of drugs such as hydroxychloroquinine, methotrexate, Cellcept, and the like. I take anywhere from 17 to 21 RX's a day and am managing pretty well, I think. Each AI disease has classic forms but each patient has their own unique set of symptoms. Their symptoms may aggressively appear or they may have a very slow progression involving years. I hope this helps along with msnova's response. If you have any further or more specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask.