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What is wrong with my mother?

Q: My mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about 5 years ago. Also, about 6 months ago it was confirmed that she doesn't have this or lyme disease. She has been to 17 doctors and no one knows what is wrong. She has constrictive pericarditis, heart failure, severe anaemia, fluid in lungs, high platelet count, high sedimentation rate, elevated WBC and many other symptoms. She gets fever and rash on her legs and arms. Please help; she is only 46 years old and I am worried sick?

A:A persistent group of symptoms accompanying arthritis is typical of a connective tissue disorder such as lupus erythematosus. Although the symptoms usually respond to corticosteroids, prolonged treatment is needed and the outcome may not be good. With luck, however, the disease process and symptoms can be brought under good control.

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