WHAT IS RELAPSING POLYCHONDRITIS?
Relapsing Polychondritis (RP) is a systemic inflammatory disease that can be fatal. The disease affects multiple organs, particularly cartilaginous structures such as the ears, nose, airways and joints as well as eyes, skin, heart valves and brain. The cause of RP is unknown.
- RP is extremely difficult to diagnose.
SYMPTOMS OF RELAPSING POLYCHONDRITIS ARE VARIABLE AND MAY INCLUDE:
- General malaise, low grade fever, loss of appetite
- Redness and pain on the eyes
- Inflammation, redness, swelling and/or pain in outer (cartilaginous) portions of the ear
- Sore throat, anterior neck pain, hoarseness
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, dry cough
- Hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness
- Pain and redness on the nose
- Skin lesions
- Joint pain and swelling
- Rib pain, sternum pain
- Tracheomalacia and bronchomalacia
- Subglottic stenosis
- Ear and nose deformities
- Hearing loss
The primary goals of treatment for people with RP are to relieve present symptoms and to preserve the structure of the affected cartilage. Relapsing polychondritis is a complex condition that requires a team approach for patient care, as follows:
- Dermatologists or specialists in infectious diseases are often involved early in the course of the disease to evaluate the patient for infectious causes of cellulitis or perichondritis.
- Rheumatologists usually become the primary care provider and should be involved early in patient care.
- Ophthalmologists should also be involved early to diagnose, monitor, and treat the potentially devastating ocular complications.
- Cardiologists, neurologists, nephrologists, and otolaryngologists may be asked to manage other aspects of relapsing polychondritis.
- Plastic surgeons can aid in nasal reconstruction if saddle-nose deformity is present.