Health

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition in which your body damages its own joints. In some people, it can affect eyes, skin, lungs, heart, and blood vessels too. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder- a condition in which your body damages its own healthy cells. Therefore immune suppressants and anti-inflammatory drugs can help in its treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints causing bone erosion and joint deformity leading to swelling. If you have any swelling in your joints, you should visit a rheumatologist in Lahore. 

What are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may come and go, causing exacerbation- also known as the flare that settles in some time- a period known as remission. The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are;

    • Swollen, red, and tender joints
  • Joint stiffness that worsens after physical activity
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

At early stages, rheumatoid arthritis affects smaller joints- ones that attach your toes to the feet and fingers to your hands. However, as the disease progress, it may attack other joints like knees, elbows, ankles, shoulders, and hips. Apart from joints, rheumatoid arthritis can affect other organs like;

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

Causes

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition- a condition in which your body damages its own healthy cells. Your immune system is responsible to fight against bacteria, viruses, and toxins. But in rheumatoid arthritis, it affects your healthy joint lining and other organs. Some factors that can trigger pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis are infections, environmental triggers, viruses, and bacterial infection. 

Risk Factors

Factors that may play a role in causing rheumatoid arthritis are;

Being Women 

Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as compared to men. 

Age 

Middle-aged people are often diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. However, it can occur at any age. 

Family History 

Having a family history of rheumatoid arthritis increases the chances of it for you. 

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes can increase the chances of rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, if you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis and you smoke, the risk of rheumatoid arthritis increases many folds for you. 

Weight

Obese and heavy-weight people are more at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. To prevent it, you must maintain a healthy weight according to your body mass index. 

Complications

Rheumatoid arthritis, in the long run, can cause complications like;

Osteoporosis

Rheumatoid arthritis itself and the drugs used to treat it can lead to osteoporosis- a condition in which thinning of bones occurs, making them prone to fracture. 

Nodules 

Rheumatoid nodules can lead to the formation of rheumatoid nodules that can occur anywhere in the body, like the elbow, lungs, and heart. 

Sjogren’s Syndrome 

Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to Sjogren’s syndrome- a condition in which secretions of your body start to dry out. Most commonly, it causes dry eyes and mouth. 

Infections

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Therefore for its treatment, you need to take long-term immune suppressants that can lead to infections. If you take immune suppressants like corticosteroids, you must get your vaccinations against flu, shingles, COVID 19, and pneumonia. However, tell your healthcare provider that you take any immunosuppressant drug before administration of the vaccine. 

Conclusion 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition. Its symptoms may come and go, but you need to learn the art of living with it. You should think positively and avoid its triggers. Your healthcare provider may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs that can help you cope with the condition. If the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis worsen, you should visit the healthcare provider. For an expert opinion related to rheumatology, you can visit a rheumatologist in Karachi. 

Leave a Comment