Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting millions in the United States. RA can cause extreme pain and discomfort, making it difficult for those affected to live normally. But conversely, RA can also have long-term effects on your overall health and well-being. Here’s a look into RA, what causes it, and how it can ruin your life.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its tissues and cells. This leads to inflammation in the affected joints, causing them to become swollen, stiff, and painful. Over time, if left untreated, RA can cause permanent damage to the joint structures as well as other organs throughout the body.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The exact cause of RA is unknown. However, scientists believe that genetics play a role in its development. It is also believed that environmental factors, such as exposure to certain chemicals, may contribute to the onset of RA. In addition, some research suggests that smoking or having certain infections may increase a person’s risk of developing this chronic condition.
How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Ruin Your Life?
RA can be highly debilitating for those who suffer from it. Both mentally and physically. Here’s what you need to know about it.
The Physical Effects of RA
The physical effects of RA are often the most immediately noticeable. People with RA usually experience constant joint pain and stiffness, making everyday tasks difficult or impossible. Over time, this inflammation can cause joint damage, leading to deformity and disability.
Inflammation can even reach a person’s gums, leading to periodontitis and tooth loss. Dental professionals suggest immediately replacing any tooth loss due to RA. People can do so by getting dental implants. These implants can help reduce future gum infections and can even ease RA in the mouth.
The damage of RA is often irreversible, so getting an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible is essential so treatment can begin immediately.
The Mental Health Effects of RA
The physical symptoms of RA are certainly debilitating enough on their own, but they often come with a host of mental health issues. Depression is common in people with RA due to chronic pain and fatigue, as well as the fear of not being able to function normally or participate in activities they used to enjoy. Anxiety is also often present because many people with RA worry about how much worse their condition might become or how much worse their symptoms will get over time.
Managing Your Symptoms
There is no cure for RA, but people can manage their symptoms. Here are some ways to do that.
Making simple dietary changes can significantly reduce the severity of your symptoms. For example, avoiding processed foods and sugar and limiting dairy products and red meat consumption can help reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, consuming more omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds have been linked to reduced joint pain and stiffness. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins is also beneficial for reducing inflammation associated with this condition.
Exercise has multiple benefits for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Not only does exercise help improve mobility by strengthening muscles around the joints affected by the disease, but it also helps maintain a healthy weight which can reduce stress on the joints. Exercise also releases endorphins that can help reduce pain naturally without relying on over-the-counter medications or narcotics. Finding an exercise routine that works best for you; low-impact exercises such as swimming or biking are generally recommended over high-impact activities like running or sports involving sudden movements or contact with other players.
Managing medications effectively is key to managing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms successfully. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed for treating arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; these medications work by reducing inflammation in the affected joints, lessening pain levels associated with the disease. However, long-term use of NSAIDs can cause potential side effects. Hence, it’s essential to consult with your doctor before taking any medication for your condition—and always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any medication.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a severe medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. Although there is no cure for this disease yet, treatments available can help manage symptoms and slow down its progression. If you think you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or know someone who has a rheumatoid arthritis condition, seek advice from your healthcare provider so that you can begin treatment before damage occurs. With proper treatment and management strategies, living with rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have to ruin your life!