Collagen Vascular Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Overview

 

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is formed through chains of amino acids, such as glycine and proline, which are essential to its formation. As we age, our natural collagen production begins to decline. We produce around 1% less per year once we reach age 20. Collagen is responsible for helping us have strong joints, skin, bones, hair, and nails. The less collagen we have, the more issues may arise. While there are certainly environmental factors, genetics, and other issues that may play a factor in various health issues, collagen has to do with a lot of them. Things like joint pain, brittle hair and nails, weak connective tissues, and lackluster skin may all have to do with collagen issues. What you may not know is that there are quite a few collagen vascular diseases, which are otherwise known as connective tissue diseases. This range of diseases are inflammatory disorders, which doctors say are related to one's immune system. Essentially, they are autoimmune diseases that specifically target your connective tissues.  Read on to learn more about these various diseases, how they relate to collagen, and whether or not they are treatable.

What is collagen vascular disease?

Collagen vascular disease did not receive notice until around the 1930's. At this time, doctors began to recognize it as a range of diseases that have to do with our connective tissues and immune system. Issues related to collagen vascular disease include Scleroderma, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dermatomyositis, and others. These diseases can be inherited genetically from one's parents, or can develop as autoimmune disorders. They can affect your skin, bones, joints, and blood vessels. When it develops as an autoimmune disorder, it means your body's immune system accidentally attacks its own tissues that are healthy. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly why or how this happens. Having collagen vascular disease means you have inflammation in your collagen and surrounding joints. Many of these diseases are actually more common in women than in men, but regardless it typically affects adults once they reach their 30's and 40's. It is rare for children to develop any of the diseases, but occasionally they can be diagnosed with Lupus. Rheumatic diseases are similar to collagen vascular disease, and they can often overlap syndromes. There is no specific disease that defines connective tissue disorders, but rather a range with varying symptoms. 

How is collagen vascular disease diagnosed?

Collagen vascular disease is diagnosed just like any other disease or disorder. Once you notice some specific symptoms, you go to your doctor to determine the cause. Doctors who study dermatology or hematology are able to diagnose one of the aforementioned diseases. There are quite a few symptoms of collagen vascular disease, which doctors can use to diagnose you. These symptoms include: muscle weakness, dry eyes, skin rashes, joint pain, fatigue, aches, and fever. Lupus causes unique symptoms in those who have it, and the symptoms can vary from other collagen diseases given each person's specific conditions. Headaches, shortness of breath, and mouth ulcers are a few symptoms of Lupus. Similarly, Scleroderma has some different symptoms. They include breathing difficulties, acid reflux, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms, your doctor can help determine if the symptoms are related to collagen vascular disease. 

 

Is Sjogren's a collagen vascular disease?

Yes, Sjogren's is a collagen vascular disease. It is an autoimmune disorder, similar to the ones we previously mentioned in this article. Again, this means your body attacks its own healthy tissues. Sjogren's disease has two main symptoms that help doctors diagnose it: dry eyes, and dry mouth. Both of these symptoms are pretty severe, but their severity does vary from person to person. In many cases, Sjogren's is not the only disorder one might have; it typically accompanies other such diseases, especially Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It starts by affecting your mucous membranes and the moisture-secreting glands that are found in your eyes and mouth, resulting in dryness. Other symptoms that can occur include coughing, joint pain, skin rash, and fatigue. There are a few risk factors for developing Sjogren's. These include age, sex, and already having a rheumatic disease. Women over 40 are the most likely to develop Sjogren's, but anyone who already has a rheumatic disease or collagen vascular disease is also at risk. 

Is collagen vascular disease curable?

It is not curable, but it is tamable and manageable. Treatment varies from patient to patient, because there is such a range of issues and diseases that can affect you. Most typically, corticosteroid and immunosuppressant medications are used to begin treatment. Corticosteroids reduce the overall inflammation in your body, and they can help to normalize your immune system. Immunosuppressant medication works to lessen your immune response, meaning your body will attack itself less and less. The downside to this is that your immune system is lowered, meaning your chances of becoming sick increase. Sometimes, people turn to physical therapy to help manage their diseases. This is typically used more for people with aching joint and muscle pains. People who have these diseases are advised to eat a highly anti-inflammatory diet. This is one of the best ways to manage many symptoms, because what you eat directly affects how your body functions. Eating this diet would include cutting out processed foods, sugar (which greatly depletes natural collagen levels), alcohol, and gluten. You would then add plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens that are rich in antioxidants. Eating foods that contain collagen or promote the natural production of collagen is a good idea, too. Seafood, meats, and bone broth all contain high levels of collagen. You may also consider taking a collagen supplement, which may help alleviate some of your symptoms. Collagen supplements can help to strengthen joints, bones, and connective tissues, as well as help with pain and improve skin conditions. It's important to find supplements that are clean and contain minimal ingredients, so that you are getting the best product available. Look for ones that are organic, grass-fed, or wild-caught. Our Kalumi BEAUTYfood bars contain 12 grams of premium marine collagen, as well as 15 grams of protein, and superfood ingredients. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Sources: 

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-0-387-68792-6_20

https://www.healthline.com/health/collagen-vascular-disease#causes

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sjogrens-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20353216

 

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