What Is The Disease That Makes You Look Older? (Anti Aging Q&A)

Have you ever come across someone or seen an image in which you looked at a person and thought they aged too fast?

Have you heard about the disease that can make you look older much before it is time for your first signs of ageing to appear?

Do you know that this disease can affect children as early as in their infancy and make them look absolutely old even before they really reach their teens?

If you have ever wanted to know more about this disease, we can share all the relevant information that can help take care of your questions. We talk about what this disease is and any other names it is called by. We also talk about the symptoms, how soon you can spot the symptoms and who has this disorder.

We also talk about how it affects a person and how the children who are affected by it look like. We also tell you if this is a common disorder or whether it is rare, and what percentage of population it actually affects. We also talk about the early signs and when you should see a doctor, and other things that can help.

What is Hutchinson–Gilford Progeria Syndrome? What are other names that this disease is known by?

how this disease makes you look older

The Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome is a type of genetic condition. It is also known as HGPS or Progeria. This disease is a rare type of fatal condition in which the affected child starts to display symptoms of ageing. Gradually, the child starts to look like an old person even before reaching the teen years.

The disease gets its name from the Greek language in which it means ‘premature ageing.’ The Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome is named after the doctors who first described the condition in England. This was done in the year 1886 by Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson and in the year 1897 by Dr. Hastings Gilford.

It is also known as the following:

  • Hutchinson-Gilford Syndrome
  • Premature ageing syndrome
  • Progeria childhood

What type of disorder is it, who has it, and what are its symptoms?

Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, also known as HGPS or Progeria, is a type of very rare genetic disorder. It is a type of disease that makes you look old, and in which there is very premature and fast ageing of the child who is affected. The disease affects the children right after birth, and the symptoms start showing up very soon after birth.

What are the symptoms and how do the affected children look like?

Children who are affected with progeria will be born with regular features and nothing looks out of place. At the time of birth, these babies look outwardly healthy, and there is nothing visible that can immediately lead to a diagnosis of progeria.

However, as the babies begin to grow, they start showing classic symptoms of progeria in the first two years of life itself. Here are some of the most visual signs that can point towards progeria:

disease that makes you look older
  • The head is significantly bigger than the other parts of the face
  • The eyes are larger and look very big and wide
  • The nose is very thin and has a pointed tip that almost looks like a beak
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    The ears look bigger in proportion to the face and seem to be sticking out
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    The lower jaw looks smaller
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    The veins on the baby or child’s skin are very prominently visible. These could be visible on the face and also on the head.
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    There is also a very slight blue tint around the mouth area.
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    The affected child will have a very high pitched voice.
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    The teeth grow very late than other children and may not always be formed in a perfect alignment as happens in healthier babies.
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    There is a considerable loss of body fat as well as muscles.
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    The child will start to lose out hair from all over the body, including from the head, from the eyebrows and even the eyelashes.

In addition, the child will also have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Having problems with the joint and having joint abnormalities
  • The arteries start to become hard very early in childhood
  • Problems and defects in the nails and nail beds
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    Problems and defects in the bones and especially in the hip, which makes the child prone to hip dislocation
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    Fine lines start appearing very early in childhood that can very soon develop into wrinkles

Are there many people who suffer from this disease?

No, this is a very rare type of disorder that does not affect a lot of people. In fact, from the year 1886, only about 130 people have been known to have been diagnosed with progeria.

It is possible that one parent has the mutation that eventually leads to progeria, but it does not mean that the parent also has progeria. However, if there is one child in the family who does have progeria, there is a chance of about two to three percent that any other child being born in the family will also have progeria.

Is this disease easy to diagnose? What does it take to determine if someone has it? 

The signs and symptoms of progeria, or the Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, are very prominent, and so it is possible that a paediatrician or a general physician can also quickly spot the symptoms and come to a diagnosis.

what disease that makes you look old
  • It is also possible that the paediatrician can see the signs and symptoms during a routine check-up of the baby.
  • Initially, in order to be a little sure about whether or not there are any chances of this being progeria, the doctor will first do a physical examination of the child. They will also test the child’s hearing and seeing abilities.
  • In addition to the above, the doctor will go ahead and measure the child’s pulse rate and also the child’s blood pressure levels, along with the child’s weight and height readings.
  • Once the doctor has the above mentioned data, they will compare it with other children of the specific child’s age and match the results.
  • Once the doctor is worried that this could be a sign of progeria, they will refer you to a specialist who is qualified in medical genetics. This person will suggest some blood tests that can help to give a more definite answer as to whether or not this is progeria.

What are early signs that people should look out for? When is it time to see a doctor?

All the signs that are mentioned above are things that you should be on the lookout for. If you suspect any of the above mentioned physical changes in your baby, make sure to immediately get in touch with your baby’s doctor.

disease that makes you look old

Are there any medications that can battle this disease? Do people who have it live long?

Unfortunately, there is no medication or cure for progeria. However, using other means of treatment such as physical therapy and occupational therapy can definitely help to improve the quality of life. As this is a disorder that leads to very fast and accelerated ageing, the affected child most likely survives till the age of 13. However, a doctor will be able to advise best on this.


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