What is Sclerosis and How Does It Affect the Body?

What is Sclerosis and How Does It Affect the Body?

Sclerosis is a term that describes the abnormal hardening of a tissue or body part, usually caused by a replacement of the normal organ-specific tissue with connective tissue. The structure may be said to have undergone sclerotic changes or display sclerotic lesions, which refers to the process of sclerosis. Sclerosis can occur in several serious diseases that affect different parts of the body, such as the brain, the spinal cord, the arteries, the kidneys, the skin, and the ears.

Some common medical conditions whose pathology involves sclerosis are:

  • Multiple sclerosis: A potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) that causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. The immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes damage or deterioration of the nerve fibers. Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely between patients and depend on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage in the central nervous system. Some people with severe multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk independently or at all. Other individuals may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms depending on the type of multiple sclerosis they have. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but treatments can help speed the recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.
  • Atherosclerosis: A deposit of fatty materials, such as cholesterol, in the arteries which causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This can reduce or block blood flow to vital organs and tissues, such as the heart, the brain, and the limbs. Atherosclerosis can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and aneurysm. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and family history. Atherosclerosis can be prevented or slowed down by adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress. Medications and procedures may also be needed to treat atherosclerosis and its complications.
  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis: A disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system (glomeruli) causing serious scarring and proteinuria (protein in urine). This can lead to nephrotic syndrome in children and adolescents, as well as an important cause of kidney failure in adults. The cause of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis is not fully understood, but it may be related to genetic factors, viral infections, obesity, or drugs. Symptoms of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis include swelling (edema), foamy urine, weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Treatment options for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis include medications to reduce proteinuria and inflammation, dietary changes to limit salt and protein intake, and dialysis or kidney transplant for end-stage kidney disease.
  • Lichen sclerosus: An inflammatory skin disease that most often affects the vulva and the penis. It causes white patches of thinning skin that may itch, hurt, bleed or blister. The exact cause of lichen sclerosus is unknown, but it may be related to an overactive immune system or hormonal imbalances. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious and does not increase the risk of cancer. However, it can cause scarring and narrowing of the genital area that may interfere with sexual function and urination. Treatment for lichen sclerosus includes topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and itching, moisturizers to soothe dry skin, and surgery to remove scar tissue or correct deformities.
  • Otosclerosis: A disease of the ears that causes abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. This can interfere with sound transmission from the eardrum to the inner ear and cause hearing loss. Otosclerosis usually affects both ears and tends to run in families. The cause of otosclerosis is unknown but it may be influenced by genetic factors,
    hormonal changes (such as pregnancy), viral infections (such as measles), or immune disorders. Symptoms of otosclerosis include progressive hearing loss (especially for low-pitched sounds), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness (vertigo), or balance problems. Treatment for otosclerosis includes hearing aids to amplify sound or surgery to replace

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