WHAT IS EDS?
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a rare genetic condition that affects the connective tissue. Approximately 80% of our bodies are comprised of connective tissue so when that is faulty, a variety of symptoms can occur. Simply put, having EDS is like being held together with spit and gum instead of super glue. EDS is a common cause of POTS for unknown reasons at this time. There are many different types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) which you can learn more about here (2017 EDS classifications).
"Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of disorders that affect connective tissues supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues. Defects in connective tissues cause the signs and symptoms of these conditions, which range from mildly loose joints to life-threatening complications.
The various forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome have been classified in several different ways. Originally, 11 forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome were named using Roman numerals to indicate the types (type I, type II, and so on). In 1997, researchers proposed a simpler classification (the Villefranche nomenclature) that reduced the number of types to six and gave them descriptive names based on their major features. In 2017, the classification was updated to include rare forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that were discovered more recently. The 2017 classification describes 13 types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
An unusually large range of joint movement (hypermobility) occurs in most forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and it is a hallmark feature of the hypermobile type. Infants and children with hypermobility often have weak muscle tone (hypotonia), which can delay the development of motor skills such as sitting, standing, and walking. The loose joints are unstable and prone to dislocation and chronic pain. In the arthrochalasia type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, infants have hypermobility and dislocations of both hips at birth.
Many people with the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes have soft, velvety skin that is highly stretchy (elastic) and fragile. Affected individuals tend to bruise easily, and some types of the condition also cause abnormal scarring. People with the classical form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome experience wounds that split open with little bleeding and leave scars that widen over time to create characteristic "cigarette paper" scars. The dermatosparaxis type of the disorder is characterized by loose skin that sags and wrinkles, and extra (redundant) folds of skin may be present.
Some forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, notably the vascular type and to a lesser extent the kyphoscoliotic, classical, and classical-like types, can cause unpredictable tearing (rupture) of blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding and other potentially life-threatening complications. The vascular type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is also associated with an increased risk of organ rupture, including tearing of the intestine and rupture of the uterus during pregnancy.
Other types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome have additional signs and symptoms. The cardiac-valvular type causes severe problems with the valves that control the movement of blood through the heart. People with the kyphoscoliotic type experience severe curvature of the spine that worsens over time and can interfere with breathing by restricting lung expansion. A type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome called brittle cornea syndrome is characterized by thinness of the clear covering of the eye (the cornea) and other eye abnormalities. The spondylodysplastic type features short stature and skeletal abnormalities such as abnormally curved (bowed) limbs. Abnormalities of muscles, including hypotonia and permanently bent joints (contractures), are among the characteristic signs of the musculocontractural and myopathic forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The periodontal type causes abnormalities of the teeth and gums."
"How prevalent are Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes?
At this time, research statistics of the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes show the total prevalence as 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 5,000 people. Recent clinical experience suggests that Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may be more common. The conditions are known to affect both males and females of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
How are Ehlers-Danlos syndromes inherited?
The two known inheritance patterns for the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes include autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive. Regardless of the inheritance pattern, we have no choice in which genes we pass on to our children.
What is the prognosis of someone with an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
The prognosis depends on the type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and the individual. Life expectancy can be shortened for those with the Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome due to the possibility of organ and vessel rupture. Life expectancy is usually not affected in the other types. There can be a wide or narrow range of severity within a family, but each person’s case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome will be unique. While there is no cure for the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, there is treatment for symptoms, and there are preventative measures that are helpful for most."
For further information, check out my blog post "31 Facts about EDS" to learn more.