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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis has no cure but there are treatments available to help manage symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by your immune system attacking healthy cells, tissues and organs in various parts of your body including the synovial membrane lining of your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose because it mimics other conditions like osteoarthritis or gout so it's important to see a doctor for diagnosis if you have any concerns. There are also many symptoms associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis which may include fever, weight loss, fatigue and morning stiffness among others. Diet plays an important role

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may include:

  • Swollen, warm, or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness that is typically worst in the morning and after physical activity
  • Fatigue, fever and/or loss of appetite

The joints that attach your fingers to your hands and toes to your feet are frequently the first ones affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms may spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders as the disease progresses. The majority of cases manifest in the same joints on both sides of your body.

Rheumatoid arthritis does not always present symptoms in the joints. The following are some of the non-joint areas where people with rheumatoid arthritis can experience symptoms:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Nerve tissue
  • Salivary glands
  • Bone marrow
  • Blood vessels

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can vary considerably in terms of severity and occurrence. Flares, periods of higher disease activity, alternate with times of relative quiet - when the swelling and discomfort subside or vanish. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place over time.

When to see a doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Make an appointment with your physician if you have persistent joint pain and swelling.

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system normally aids in the protection of your body against infection and illness. Your immune system in rheumatoid arthritis attacks healthy tissues in your joints and can also induce medical issues with your heart, lungs, nerves, eyes, and skin.

While it's not clear what starts the process, a genetic component appears likely. While your genes aren't responsible for causing rheumatoid arthritis, they may make you more prone to react to environmental factors — such as infection with particular viruses and bacteria — that could trigger the disease.

Risk factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. It's rare, affecting about 1 in every 500 people worldwide. The following are some of the factors that might raise your risk for rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Your sex. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common among women than men.
  • Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, although it is most common among those over the age of 40.
  • Family history. You may be more prone to rheumatoid arthritis if a family member has the condition.
  • Smoking. Smoking cigarettes raises the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis and, in particular, if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Smoking has also been linked to greater disease severity..
  • Excess weight. Overweight individuals appear to be more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Complications Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis raises your chances of developing the following conditions:

  • Abnormal body composition. Rheumatoid arthritis patients tend to have a higher proportion of fat to lean tissue, even if they have a normal body weight (BMI).
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. If rheumatoid arthritis affects your wrists, the nerve that provides most of your hand and fingers may be compressed due to inflammation.
  • Dry eyes and mouth. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are four times more likely to develop Sjogren's syndrome, a condition characterized by dry eyes and a dry mouth.
  • Heart problems. Rheumatoid arthritis can also increase your risk of heart problems like blocked arteries, hardened arteries, and inflammation of the sac that encloses your heart.
  • Infections. Rheumatoid arthritis and many of the medicines used to treat it can deplete the immune system, allowing infections to spread. To avoid illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19 viruses, get vaccinated.
  • Lung disease. People with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues. This can lead to progressive shortness of breath.
  • Lymphoma. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of lymphoma.
  • Osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis and medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can raise your chance of osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become brittle and more prone to breakage..
  • Rheumatoid nodules. The most common places for these firm bumps of tissue to develop are around pressure points, such as the elbows. These nodules can develop in any area of the body, including the heart and lungs.

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