As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis affects the body’s immune system and turns it against itself. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis triggers the immune system and has it attack the joints. This results in a thickening of the synovial fluid in the joints – and typically this affects both right and left sides of the body at once – which causes pain and inflammation. The inflammation can be problematic in and of itself as the swelling can get bad enough to cause restriction of movement, and the pain can be so intense one wouldn’t want to move anymore anyway.
Rheumatoid arthritis has further-reaching potential complications that merit attention as well. The inflammation it causes is drastic enough to affect vital organs and even one’s endocrine glands. As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis tends to be medically addressed by drugs that suppress the immune system. With the drawbridge deliberately lowered like this, one’s susceptibility to infection increases drastically. Even beyond this, the medication and pain-limited physical activity can contribute to the gradual stripping of bone matter, which could lead to bone thinning and possible osteoporosis down the line.
Bones aren’t the only thing that can be slowly degrade over time with rheumatoid arthritis. Muscle wasting, or rheumatoid cachexia, is also a possibility. The medication typically prescribed for RA is so strong as to affect the body in indirect but nevertheless unpleasant, adverse ways. Even the lungs are not immune from this – potential scarring of the lungs is possible given the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on the immune system and the possible infection that can come from addressing it thusly. It is important, therefore, to keep an eye out in case this might be what is bothering you.
Given that the medication for RA tends to be powerful enough to cause a unique set of new problems – these tend to minimize the immune system or be so strong as to possibly cause liver issues – how can one minimize the impact of RA differently?
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