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Signs and Symptoms of Scleroderma (or Crest Syndrome)

Scleroderma is a runaway healing process where the body produces too much collagen and connective tissue, replacing normal cell structure. This causes scar tissue to build up on the skin, lungs and circulatory system. Tightened, thickened skin is a common sign. Chronic degeneration of connective tissue can also be seen in different organs, including the kidneys, heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal systems.  We have put together a list of signs and symptoms of scleroderma below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Scleroderma are as follows:

  • thickening and swelling of the ends of fingers
  • sores on fingertips and knuckles
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon in fingers and toes
  • hair loss
  • taut, shiny discolored skin
  • difficulty swallowing
  • heartburn
  • stiff, achy joints
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • increased blood pressure
  • digestive problems
  • erectile dysfunction
  • headaches
  • dry eyes and mouth
  • chest pain and irregular heartbeats
  • hypothyroidism
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • hoarseness
  • cough
  • dilated blood vessels
  • itching
  • tingling or numbness in fingers and toes
  • inability to flex fingers, wrists and elbows

Diagnosis of Scleroderma

When scleroderma affects the skin it is called localized scleroderma, and when it attacks the blood vessels and connective tissue it is called systemic scleroderma. CREST Syndrome is a mild skin sclerosis which mainly affects the fingers.

Scleroderma is one of the most serious autoimmune diseases, though the best assessment of long-term survival is based on the type of scleroderma. It is highly individualistic, and symptoms range from mild to severe to fatal. CREST has a better prognosis than the other forms of scleroderma.

The three main diagnostic criteria include:

1.      Hardening of the skin

2.      Raynaud’s phenomenon in the fingers and toes

3.      Presence of scleroderma antibodies

Recommended – Test for Heavy Metals and Mineral Imbalances using Hair Tissue Analysis

Hair Tissue Analysis Report

Hair Tissue Analysis Report

We suggest getting a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) to help you determine accurately what your body needs more of in terms of essential trace minerals and needs to eliminate in terms of toxic heavy metals and toxic mineral ratios. Toxic mineral ratios and toxic metal accumulation following long term or acute exposure can contribute greatly to degenerative conditions like Scleroderma.

Essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and sodium all have important metabolic functions. However, too little or too much of any of these essential minerals can have an adverse affect on the human body and it’s ability to recover.

How can a hair analysis help me achieve better health? If we consider that diet is what we consume and nutrition is what we retain, then we can see that discovering what your body needs when it needs it is a valuable tool in creating health.

The dangers of exposure to toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead and aluminum have been well documented over the years. Levels of heavy metals in the body can only be accurately measured using a hair tissue analysis or a chelation challenge test (which can be expensive and have serious side-effects). Blood or urine tests give information about your metal or mineral levels at the time of the test only.

Testing for minerals in the urine measures the minerals that are being excreted from your body – not necessarily what has been absorbed as fuel for your body. So blood and urine tests are like snapshots whereas a hair analysis is the video of your mineral retention.

A hair analysis provides a biological profile of the past 2 – 3 months of intracellular activity revealing a unique metabolic world, which cannot be seen through most other tests. The hair mineral analysis gives you or your healthcare professional much-needed information about mineral deficiencies and chemical imbalances in your body, especially if you’re suffering from symptoms of any disease or disorder, including Crest syndrome.

For FAQ’s about hair analysis, please click here.

For an overview of what is covered in a comprehensive hair analysis report (by Trace Elements, Inc.), please click here.

Hair Analysis Graph Results 1

Hair Analysis Bar Graph Results 2

Bar Graph Results

shopping cart icon To purchase a comprehensive Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (by Trace Elements, Inc.) from Evenbetternow Natural Health Solutions, please click here.

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of Scleroderma

The Scleroderma Book: A Guide for Patients and Families
Maureen D. Mayes M.D.
Scleroderma: The Proven Therapy that Can Save Your Life
Henry Scammell

The First Year: Scleroderma: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed (The First Year Series)
Karen Gottesman
A Journey Towards Health … Reversing Scleroderma
Jane M. Parker

What are the Causes of Scleroderma?

Environmental factors are key in the development of scleroderma or Crest syndrome including:

  • Silica Exposure, Typically in Those Who Work as Miners and Stone Masons
  • Exposure to Polyvinyl Chloride
  • Exposure to Solvents Such as Benzene, Toluene, Perchlorethylenes, Carbon Tetrachloride, and Trichlorethylene
  • Exposure to Any Chemical Toxins
  • Exposure to Diesel Fuel
  • Ingestion of Rancid Rapeseed Oil
  • Silicone, Such as Implants
  • Certain Drugs Such as Phen/Fen Weightloss Drugs, and Cocaine
  • Hand-arm Vibration Injuries From Using Equipment like Jackhammers
  • Certain Viruses Like Cytomegalovirus and Herpes
  • Toxic Metal Exposure
  • The Presence of Leftover Fetal Cells in the Bloodstream Even Decades After Pregnancy

Why Detoxification is Important?

If there is one thing that seems to be true, it is that autoimmune disease patients have a toxic body. The more discomfort you are in, the more pain you are feeling, the sicker and more toxic you are. Inflammation and irritation are classic signs of a toxic body. Although environmental toxins are not the only cause of the autoimmune process, it may be what is the root cause of the other factors such as candida, viral or bacterial infections.

Scleroderma Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Scleroderma Foundation

The Scleroderma Foundation is a national nonprofit health organization dedicated to a three-fold mission of Support, Education, and Research to help fight Scleroderma.

  • International Scleroderma Network

Our nonprofit delivers stellar research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related autoimmune and arthritis diseases, with 5,000+ pages in 23 languages.

  • MD Junction

Scleroderma Forums. Discussions, Q&A and friends dealing with Scleroderma.

  • Better Medicine

Research Symptoms of Scleroderma – Information Including Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes, Videos, Forums, and local community support.

  • Scleroderma Video

Talks on scleroderma available on video.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms and treatment of this disease that involves skin thickening.

  • Medicine Net . com

Read about scleroderma (an autoimmune disease) symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, facts and prognosis.

  • Pub Med Health

Reviews causes, symptoms, tests, treatment, prognosis and complications.