By Dr. K Shanmuganandan, Rheumatology
Autoimmune diseases are the result of a defective immune system where the immune system erroneously attacks the healthy tissues and cells of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is a kind of autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the lining in the joints. It is accompanied by symptoms such as joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling etc. Here are a few things about this disorder that you might not be aware of.
It can affect anybody of any age: Most of us associate arthritis with old age. But that is not true in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. It can affect anybody belonging to any age group. In fact there are infants who are born with this disorder owing to a genetic predisposition. However, it is not to be thought that people cannot live with it. With the right amount of exercise, medication and a healthy diet, one can control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are no specific areas when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis: The worst thing about this disorder is that it can affect any organ in your body, like, kidneys, eyes, skin, and even your jaws. The pain circulates throughout your body because it is an inflammatory disease. Some preventive measures include getting good sleep, reducing stress and if the pain persists for long, one can opt for cold compression.
- You can exercise despite having RA: Studies show that people who have rheumatoid arthritis and exercise regularly manage the pain better than people who do not. Exercise strengthens the joints and prevents the muscles from damage. Some of the exercise regimes that you must follow if you have RA are biking and walking. For more relaxation, follow work-out routines like tai chi and yoga.
- Multiple doctors help one to get around one’s disorder: Rheumatoid arthritis is accompanied by both physiological as well as psychological ailments. For example, RA can lead to both depression and cardiovascular problems. Therefore, if you have this disease a team of specialists will be able to assist you better. This team will generally be constituted of cardiologists, nephrologists, psychiatrist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist and rheumatologists.
- Smoking worsens your condition if you have RA: Smoking has adverse effects on the overall health. It not only leads to the development of heart diseases and cancer. If you have a genetic predisposition and you are a smoker, then you stand at a high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, quit smoking today. And, if you already have rheumatoid arthritis, you should stay as far away from cigarettes as possible.