All you need to know about Myositis: Symptoms, treatments and prevention

Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s diagnosis raised several questions regarding the rare autoimmune condition. Here’s demystifying it

Dr Shailaja SabnisUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 07:01 PM IST
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Pic: Instagram/ Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu made headlines few months ago when she shared that she was dionosed with myositis. She was in news for her health again recently, when a netizen took a dig at the actress’ lost charm. She hit back and her diagnosis came up once again.

Myositis is a rare autoimmune condition that causes muscle weakness, pain, and inflammation. Although not much is known about its cause, a variety of treatment options are available to alleviate the symptoms.

What is myositis?

Myositis is a general term used to describe a group of rare diseases that cause inflammation and muscle damage. There are several types of myositis, but the most common are dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and inclusion body myositis. Each type has its own unique symptoms and requires different treatment. It is important to see a doctor upon the onset of symptoms to reach an early diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible. If left untreated, myositis can cause serious health complications.

Symptoms of myositis

Some of the most common myositis symptoms include muscle weakness, pain, and inflammation. Some individuals may also experience shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, or chest pain. In some cases, people with myositis also report a decrease in urine output. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help right away. 

Diagnosing myositis

First, see your doctor and tell them about your symptoms. They will likely do a physical exam and might order some tests to help make a diagnosis. These tests could include blood work, a muscle biopsy, or an electromyography (EMG). Once your doctor has determined that you have myositis, they will develop a treatment plan tailored specifically for you. This plan could include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle/dietary changes.

Treatments for myositis

Treating myositis may require a combination of medical intervention and lifestyle adjustments. Medical treatments can range from certain medications to physical therapy, depending on the underlying cause of the condition. As for lifestyle changes, you may need to adjust your exercise regimen or make changes in your diet. In some cases, you might find relief from steroid use, especially if you experience severe symptoms stemming from an acute flare-up. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can also be used to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Some people even turn to more natural options such as acupuncture, massage therapy, or yoga to soothe their symptoms. It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating myositis; what works for one person may not work for another. Which is why its essential to seek medical advice on every new step of the treatment. 

After-care and self-care

Once diagnosed, it’s important to develop a self-care plan–tailored to your specific needs. In general, it’s important to focus on lifestyle and dietary changes, rest and relaxation, and stress management.

Making dietary changes is an important component of managing myositis. Eating more nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is crucial for restoring energy levels and maintaining good health. Eating sufficient amounts of iron can also help as it ensures that your body is getting enough oxygen-rich red blood cells. Additionally, avoiding foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt is recommended as well.

Resting when you feel fatigued can also make a world of difference in managing symptoms. When feeling exhausted or overwhelmed with life events, take some time for yourself to relax! No matter how small this break may be; reading a book or taking a long walk in the park can alleviate stress that contributes to flares of myositis.

Lifestyle changes

After seeking a diagnosis, treatment and the right aftercare and self-care, the next step in managing myositis is making necessary lifestyle changes. This can include changes to your diet and exercise regimen, modifications to everyday activities and habits, stress reduction techniques, and other steps to improve your wellbeing.

To make sure you are eating enough nutrients to support a healthy myositis lifestyle, focus your diet on plant-based proteins like beans and legumes, plenty of fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, healthy fats from sources like nuts or avocados, and whole grains. Additionally, limit processed foods as much as possible so you can avoid toxins that can contribute to inflammation.

As for exercise, it’s key to keeping up with strength training even though it may seem daunting at first. A physical therapist can be extremely helpful in developing low-impact stretching routines that are right for your individual needs. Yoga can also be a great way to get both strength training and relaxation in one activity.

Your body’s health requires ongoing maintenance – so committing to making lifestyle changes specific to myositis will be beneficial over the long run!

Myositis is a serious but manageable condition. With the right medical team and support system in place, patients can and do live full, active lives.

(Dr Shailaja Sabnis, Consultant Rheumatologist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital)

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