Polymyositis is a rare disorder. In fact, it is believed that only about one in 5,000 people have polymyositis (or dermatomyositis) in the United States today.
Anyone can get polymyositis. But some people are more likely to have it than others. It occurs generally in people who are in their 30s through 50s. Twice as many women have polymyositis as men. Also, it is more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Polymyositis is believed to be an autoimmune disease.
The main symptom of polymyositis is muscle weakness. This can include:
Polymyositis can cause your muscles to grow weaker over time.
In addition to muscle weakness, some polymyositis patients experience:
Some patients also have shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat, or other heart problems.
Many times, polymyositis is idiopathic. That means the cause of the disease is not known. But, there are some theories about the causes of polymyositis, including:
Some types of cancers may be associated with polymyositis
A viral infection of the muscles may cause the inflammation that occurs in polymyositis
If you have polymyositis, it's important to talk to your healthcare team about your specific situation.
It may be easy to confuse muscle weakness with the general feeling of tiredness and weariness caused by fatigue. Both symptoms can occur as a result of polymyositis.
Muscle weakness is a loss of strength. You’ll have difficulty climbing stairs, getting up from a chair, or lifting objects with your arms. Fatigue, on the other hand, is more or less feeling like you simply cannot get out of bed all day.
Both of these symptoms can be troublesome. Each can get in the way of your daily activities and pursuits. And it’s important to tell one apart from the other. If you are treating polymyositis and muscle weakness returns, it can be a sign of a flare-up. If fatigue is a problem, it could be a sign of treatment side effects or your condition.
But how can you tell these two symptoms apart? Your doctor can. And it’s important to inform him or her if you experience any changes in the way you are feeling. Through testing and evaluation, your doctor will work with you to help manage these and your other symptoms. You may need to make some adjustments to your overall polymyositis treatment plan.
Normally, the immune system protects your body from outside invaders. It can detect anything from a virus to a splinter. Then, it attacks the invader. Autoimmune disease causes the immune system to become confused and attack healthy tissue.X