Possible complications of polymyositis include:
- Difficulty swallowing. If the muscles in your esophagus are affected, you may have problems swallowing (dysphagia), which in turn may cause weight loss and malnutrition.
- Aspiration pneumonia. Difficulty swallowing may also cause you to breathe food or liquids, including saliva, into your lungs (aspiration), which can lead to pneumonia.
- Breathing problems. If your chest muscles are affected by the disease, you may experience breathing problems, such as shortness of breath or, in severe cases, respiratory failure.
- Calcium deposits. Late in the disease, particularly if you've had the disease for a long time, deposits of calcium can occur in your muscles, skin and connective tissues (calcinosis).
Although these are not complications, polymyositis is often associated with other conditions that may cause further complications of their own, or in combination with polymyositis symptoms. Associated conditions include:
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- Raynaud's phenomenon. This is a condition in which your fingers, toes, cheeks, nose and ears initially turn pale when exposed to cold temperatures.
- Other connective tissue diseases. Other conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and Sjogren's syndrome, can occur in combination with polymyositis.
- Cardiovascular disease. Polymyositis may cause the muscular walls of your heart to become inflamed (myocarditis). In a small number of people who have polymyositis, congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmias may develop.
- Lung disease. A condition called interstitial lung disease may occur with polymyositis. Interstitial lung disease refers to a group of disorders that cause scarring (fibrosis) of lung tissue, making lungs stiff and inelastic. Signs and symptoms include a dry cough and shortness of breath.
- NINDS polymyositis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/polymyositis/polymyositis.htm. Accessed April 11, 2014.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 25, 2014.
- Imboden JB, et al. Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=809. Accessed March 25, 2014.
- Oddis CV, et al. Rituximab in the treatment of refractory adult and juvenile dermatomyositis and adult polymyositis: A randomized, placebo-phase trial. Arthritis and Rheumatology. 2013;65:314.
- Miller ML. Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of dermatomyositis and polymyositis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 25, 2014.
- Miller ML, et al. Initial treatment of dermatomyositis and polymyositis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Miller ML, et al. Treatment of recurrent and resistant dermatomyositis and polymyositis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2014.