It's called "Vexas" and before long you might be hearing a lot more about it. The inflammatory disease was discovered in 2020 as a genetic mutation that is most likely to affect middle age men (the name is an acronym made of its scientific categorizations: vacuoles, E1 enzyme, X-linked, autoinflammatory, somatic).
It didn't make much news three years ago (the world was a bit preoccupied, healthwise, in 2020), but now, as reported in WIRED, medical professionals are taking notice after a new study last month published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Vexas is probably much more common than originally believed. An estimated 1 in 4,000 in men above the age of 50 have it, which, as WIRED notes, would make it more common than ALS.
The symptoms of Vexas are easy to confuse for other ailments: they include "frequent fevers, widespread inflammation, intense fatigue." There's joint swelling, coughs and shortness of breath, painful rashes. How severe is it? One sufferer describes the pain as if "your body is trying to push out through your pores."
Vexas can also be the cause of polychondritis, inflammation that affects cartilage in places such as the nose and ears. The only treatment so far is bone-marrow transplants, but on the bright side, the discovery of Vexas is prompting some researchers to take another look at genetic mutations as a possible source for seemingly unrelated symptoms that don't seem to track to any particular cause.
And because it's genetic, there's no worry that you can do anything to prevent it. You can't mess with Vexas, but it can certainly mess with you.
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