What You Should Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis | Healthy Aging

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system targets your joints by mistake. Pain, redness or discoloration, and inflammation are some of the side effects that might interfere with your everyday activities.

Treatment for RA is critical for alleviating symptoms and preventing lasting damage to your joints and organs. RA, like other autoimmune diseases, is a complicated illness. There are, however, things you can do to assist manage the many symptoms of RA and enhance your quality of life. #stayfitwithanand

Things to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the early stages of RA, it can be a difficult condition to explain to loved ones. Underlying inflammation causes RA, which can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.

Because they may not be able to "see" what you're going through, it's critical to be open about your situation with friends and loved ones. They may be able to better support you if you describe your illness and your needs.

As you become older, RA may impact you differently.

RA is most frequent in women between the ages of 25 and 45, but it can affect men and women of any age. Although RA is generally defined by joint pain and inflammation, you may have varying levels of progression as you age—changes that may be more noticeable if you were diagnosed with RA in your 20s or 30s.

Both RA and lupus might be present at the same time.

Lupus is another kind of autoimmune disease, and symptoms of both RA and lupus can occur at the same time, a condition known as overlap syndrome. Both illnesses induce comparable symptoms in the joints, however, lupus can also result in:
  • rashes on the skin or ulcers
  • kidney issues
  • reduced platelets and blood cells
  • Because both RA and lupus are caused by inflammation, the therapies may be comparable.
It is conceivable, however, for RA symptoms to improve as lupus flares up. It's critical to keep regular checkups with your doctor for examinations and blood tests, as lupus can be difficult to detect.

Fibromyalgia is also a possibility.

Fatigue and discomfort are common symptoms of both fibromyalgia and RA. RA, on the other hand, produces joint discomfort and inflammation and can be treated with a variety of drugs.
Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, can be excruciatingly painful. In addition, whereas RA is an autoimmune disease that worsens with time, fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that does not always get worse. Fibromyalgia is also more likely to develop if you have RA.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are several things you may do to help manage your symptoms: Getting adequate restful sleep and using stress-relieving practices like meditation.

Exercise is key and can aid in the treatment of pain.

Regular exercise benefits your general health and well-being, but getting started might be challenging if you have RA-related discomfort. When living with RA, though, exercise can assist with general pain management, especially if you've established a regimen.

If you're new to exercising, get advice from your physiotherapist. You might be able to begin by walking every day and gradually increase the distance and speed. Yoga and tai chi are examples of resistance and flexibility activities that can help with RA pain and mobility.

Rest is equally as vital as exercise.

Exercising too much, especially during RA flare-ups, can increase inflammation and exacerbate symptoms. Resting on a regular basis might also help you feel less tired.
Your best bet is to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may consider taking a day off or substituting easy yoga stretches for your workout.

Fatigue and 'brain fog' are genuine issues, but they can be managed.

Fatigue is a common RA symptom that can also signal a new flare-up.
RA fatigue might make you feel tired and weak during the day, but it doesn't always make you drowsy. Excessive exhaustion can make it difficult to focus or retain information, both of which are indications of "brain fog."

Although weariness may improve with therapy, it is possible to have this symptom for a long time. Sticking to a regular sleep pattern at night, getting adequate exercise throughout the day, and eating a balanced diet will all help you overcome lethargy and brain fog.

It's critical to handle stress.

Stress can raise your chances of getting a RA flare-up, as well as make other disorders like fibromyalgia worse.

Regular exercise and relaxation techniques can aid in stress management and inflammation reduction. It's critical to schedule time for yourself each day, whether it's to:
go for a short stroll and meditate while listening to soothing music.
Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of RA development. Losing weight, if necessary, can help slow the course of RA and alleviate symptoms.
Weight reduction can also assist with joint discomfort, particularly in the back, hips, and knees. Consult your doctor about how a moderate weight-loss strategy might benefit you.

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The objective of RA treatment is to alleviate your symptoms while also halting the disease's development. Remission may be possible if RA is diagnosed early and treated with disease-modifying drugs. Within the first several months of therapy, this may be achievable. When you have RA in remission, you have fewer afflicted joints, as well as less pain and inflammation.

During remission, your doctor will need to closely evaluate your condition and alter your medication as needed. While joint pain and stiffness are common symptoms of RA, they aren't the only ones to deal with. RA can impact you in a variety of ways, including:

  • levels of energy
  • mental well-being
  • the health of the heart

Medications can help control RA symptoms and slow or stop the course of the disease, but everyday lifestyle modifications can also assist. If your symptoms increase or don't improve despite these lifestyle changes, see your doctor. 

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