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Relapsing polychondritis is a rare autoimmune disorder characterised by recurrent episodes of inflammation and destruction of cartilaginous tissues.

What are the symptoms of relapsing polychondritis?

Relapsing polychondritis most commonly presents as inflammation of the cartilage of the ears and nose.

- Inflammation of the cartilage of the ears, with red ears resembling infectious cellulitis, is the most common finding. The ear lobes, containing no cartilage, are classically spared by the inflammation. Chronic disease may result in a flabby, droopy ear or in a “cauliflower” ear.

- Involvement of the nose may result in saddle nose deformity.

- Acute involvement of the cartilage of the trachea (wind pipe) may cause collapse of the airway with obstruction and subsequent lung infections.

- Arthritis may affect one joint or more than one joint, most often the cartilaginous junctions of the ribs.

- Other manifestations may include damage to the heart valves, nervous system, eye and kidney disease.

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