Dangal actress's battle with dermatomyositis sheds light on rare disease

23 February,2024 11:15 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  mid-day online correspondent

Dermatomyositis, impacts the skin and muscles, leading to inflammation and weakness. Suhani Bhatnagar, the young actress from the movie Dangal passed away at the age of 19 after battling Dermatomyositis

Suhani Bhatnagar. File/Pic

Key Highlights

Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune disease that affects both men and women and claims the lives of young women more frequently than men. Women should not neglect their own health needs or delay seeking medical attention for symptoms of Dermatomyositis. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can result in more severe complications and poorer outcomes for young women battling this debilitating illness.

Dermatomyositis, impacts the skin and muscles, leading to inflammation and weakness. Suhani Bhatnagar, the young actress from the movie Dangal passed away at the age of 19 after battling Dermatomyositis. This condition can affect people of all ages but is most commonly diagnosed in adults between the ages of 40 and 60. But, it is commonly seen in young women.

"The cause of dermatomyositis remains unknown but viral infection, bacterial infection, stress, air pollution certain drugs, and UV radiation can trigger this condition. It causes muscle weakness and a distinct skin rash. The areas most affected by muscle weakness are the shoulders, upper arms, hips, thighs, and neck. Other symptoms may include joint pain and swelling, inflammation of the heart and lung muscles, as well as swelling and inflammation in the blood vessels supplying the skin and muscles. Estrogen, a hormone that is more prevalent in women, plays a role in inflammation, responsible for Dermatomyositis. Genetics and stress are some of the factors that cause this condition in women. Failure to address the issue can impact the muscles involved in swallowing and breathing, resulting in challenges with these functions. In severe cases, dermatomyositis can also affect internal organs such as the lungs or heart. This situation demands urgent attention and prompt management. This condition has no definitive cure, symptom management can be achieved through medications, physical therapy, exercise, heat therapy, and adequate rest'', Said Dr. Manish Pendse, Senior Consultant Physician & Diabetologist, Medicover Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.

"Dermatomyositis can have a profound impact on muscle strength and function. The underlying inflammation in the muscles caused by this condition leads to progressive weakness, making even simple tasks like climbing stairs or lifting objects challenging for those affected. This muscle weakness is often accompanied by skin rashes, adding to the physical burden experienced by individuals with this condition. Patients may struggle with basic activities of daily living, requiring assistance for once effortless tasks. It is crucial for doctors to promptly diagnose and manage dermatomyositis to prevent further deterioration of muscle function and address any potential complications that may arise," Dr Saifuddin Nadvi, Orthopedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Mumbai.

"One key approach to preventing dermatomyositis, accompanied by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash is maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sun protection. Exercise not only enhances muscle strength and flexibility but also boosts overall immunity, reducing the risk of this condition. A diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. Early detection and treatment of underlying infections or conditions that may trigger dermatomyositis are crucial in prevention. Keeping an eye on signs and symptoms such as changes in skin pigmentation or texture, muscle weakness, or unexplained fatigue can help catch the disease at its onset and prevent it from progressing. Regular check-ups with the doctor can aid in monitoring any risk factors associated with dermatomyositis, allowing for prompt intervention when necessary. Taking control of one's lifestyle choices and seeking timely medical advice are essential steps toward effectively preventing this debilitating condition," Concluded Dr Neena Singh Chitnis, Rhemutologist, Lilavati Hospital.

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