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For millions, the freedom and relaxation of strolling throughout a park is an effortless luxury. Yet, for a select group of individuals, the crisp breeze rolling across their skin is an unsavory reminder of their delicate nature. The world according to those with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is one filled with viable threats.
Have you ever been afraid to play frisbee or see an uneven sidewalk as a potential danger to your joints? If you’ve been diagnosed with this rare genetic condition, even the simplest of tasks can transform into a real danger. In essence, EDS is the epitome of a mole hill turning into a jagged, dangerous mountain.
So what is EDS? More importantly, are there treatments capable of restoring functionality to those sinking under the weight of this permeating disorder?
You’re likely familiar with collagen. This essential structural component found throughout our body is a buzz word in the cosmetic industry. However, its function spans far beyond keeping your face young and fresh.
Considered a building block for skin, connective tissues and cartilage, collagen wears many hats in your body. When these foundational blocks are disrupted due to disease, aging or genetic disorders, its effects are widespread. This is the case for EDS patients.
Categorized as a connective tissue disorder, EDS essentially disrupts the genetic code responsible for the formation, actions and characteristics of connective tissues. As with many genetic disorders, EDS is an umbrella term covering a group of 13 disorders. Each subtype is characterized by specific symptoms, which range in severity and location.
Although there are several overarching symptoms shared by many EDS patients, which are discussed below, each subtype manifests itself differently.
For example, vascular type (vEDS) primarily affects physical appearance, such as having a clubfoot, while periodontal type (pEDS) weakens dental strength, which can result in tooth loss.
Regardless of subtype, this disorder generally manifests with:
To understand the causes of EDS, we must first dive into the complex universe of genetics. All humans traits are the result of genes passed on by your mother and father. In some cases, such as EDS, this genetic combination goes awry.
While EDS is typically inherited from a parent, this isn’t always the case. Spontaneous genetic mutations can happen, which results in EDS even though neither parents have this disorder. However, if a parent carries this mutation, there’s a 50% chance of passing it on to offspring.
Think about genetic mutations as giving your body an improper list of instructions. Exact genetic modifications determine subtype and severity. In general, all Ehlers-Danlos types alter two primary genetic categories:
Treatment plans and long-term prognosis varies based on EDS subtype and individual factors. Although there isn’t a cure for EDS, treatment plans and preventative measures can dilute symptom severity and lower risk of secondary injuries.
Many find combining traditional treatments with natural herbal remedies mediate symptoms and risk factors. Recommended options include:
The Ehlers-Danlos Society - What Are The Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes?
Mayo Clinic - Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
National Organization for Rare Disorders - Ehlers Danlos Syndromes
U.S. National Library of Medicine - Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
EDS NYC - Elsevier Medical Hypotheses - A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Based on Nutritional Supplements
The American Society of Human Genetics - High Prevalence of Food Allergies in Patients With Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes