Relapsing Polychondritis

What is relapsing polychondritis?

Relapsing polychondritis is a chronic disorder of the cartilage which causes recurrent episodes of painful inflammation. It can involve all types of cartilage include the ears, nose, joints and windpipe (trachea).

What causes it?

The cause of relapsing polychondritis is unknown. It is suspected that this condition is caused by a misdirected immune system. This results in inflammation in various tissues of the body.

What are symptoms?

Relapsing polychondritis can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on what part of your body is affected.

Inflammation of the windpipe can lead to:

This is a potentially dangerous area of inflammation in patients with relapsing polychondritis and can require assisted breathing methods when severe.

If you are experiencing severe breathing difficulties you should always seek help from an emergency service.

The following symptoms can affect all affected areas, including eyes, nose, ears throat, and joints.

  • Sudden pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling,
  • Tenderness

Inflammation of the ears and nose can weaken cartilage leading to deformity of the nose and floppy ears. This in turn can cause:

  • Impaired hearing
  • Poor balance
  • Nausea

Eye inflammation can be mild or severe and can damage vision. Cataracts can be caused by the inflammation or from the cortisone used to treat relapsing polychondritis

Other possible symptoms include: