- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory condition where the joints become swollen, stiff, tender and warm.
- Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.
- It is usually experienced during the middle age, but it can start at any age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is experienced by almost 1% of the general population. It is also twice as common in women than in men. The factors that might increase your likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis include family history, age, obesity, smoking and environmental exposures. Having the disease can also put you at risk of developing complications like osteoporosis, infections, lung diseases and heart problems.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating disorder and to cope with this condition, here’s what an expert wants you to know about it.
It affects more women than men.
The reason behind this could be due to genes or hormones. Dr. Grace Wright, a rheumatologist at Langone Medical Center in New York City, thinks that it can develop before puberty or after menopause when the hormone levels are low but why it happens is not clear.
It can develop in all ages.
Mostly older people suffer from this condition, and the peak of patients are those over 60 years old. According to Dr. Wright, there is now an upsurge of patients coming from the 20-40 age bracket, and the reason for this is still unclear.
The condition is debilitating.
The symptoms of RA can range from having a painful, stiff, swollen and tender joint to experiencing fever, fatigue and loss of appetite. The joint stiffness that people experience especially in the morning makes it hard for them to move and perform their daily task.
The severity of symptoms varies, and frequently gets disregarded.
Dr. Wright explains that symptoms and development of rheumatoid arthritis will not be the same to all. Some patients show symptoms but yet manages to carry on with their daily function while others may not exhibit symptoms but feels very sick.
When people experience early signs and symptoms, they often disregard it and attribute it to something else. It can then lead to late diagnosis of their condition, making it harder to treat.
It can affect other parts of the body.
Although it primarily affects the joints, it can progress and affect other body parts. The inflammation can affect the skin, lungs, heart, kidneys, nerve tissues and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis can also bring about complications like rheumatoid nodules, carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes and mouth, abnormal body composition and lymphoma.Dr. Wright adds that it can affect your entire body and gives you a sense of being unwell.
There are available treatments for it.
The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage the pain while corticosteroids help lessen the inflammation. Before giving any medication, doctors will first do some test to assess your current condition and to ensure you receive the appropriate treatment.
You should seek medical help when joint pain gets worse.
Once in a while, you might feel joint and knee pain, fatigue, and fever. While these are symptoms of RA, it can also be symptoms of other diseases. But if the symptoms you have been feeling lasts for almost four weeks, you might consider visiting your doctor. You might be already showing early signs of rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. Treating it as early as possible will give you higher chances of recovery.
Source: The Healthy