Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the chronic inflammatory disorders which can affect more than just your joints. Sometimes, the condition may damage a wide variety of body systems, including the eyes, skin, lungs, heart and blood vessels. An autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.
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What are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include:
- Tender, swollen joints, warm
- Joint stiffness which is usually getting worse in the mornings
- Fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite
- The early disease tends to affect your smaller joints first
- As the rheumatoid disorder progresses, symptoms often spread to the knees, wrists, ankles, hips, elbows, and shoulders. Majorly, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.
Some people who have rheumatoid arthritis may also experience signs and symptoms which don’t involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many nonjoint structures, including:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve tissue
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
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What are the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- The disease occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium that is the lining of the membranes which surround your joints.
- As a result, inflammation thickens the synovium, that can eventually destroy the bone and cartilage within the joint.
- The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together stretch and weaken. By the time, the joint loses its alignment and shape.
What are the Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Here are some factors which can increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Your Sex. women are at greater risk as compare to men.
- Age. It can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins in middle age.
- Family History. If a member of your family has the disease, you can have an increased risk of the disease.
- Smoking. It increases also your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a family history for developing the disease.
- Environmental Exposures. Some exposures such as silica or asbestos can increase the risk of developing the disease. Emergency workers exposed to dust are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases.
- Obesity. People generally women of age 55 and younger who are obese appear to be at a somewhat higher risk of developing this disease.
How to Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?
It can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages due to the early signs and symptoms of those of many other diseases. There is no blood test or physical finding to confirm the diagnosis.
People with the disease usually have an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate), which can indicate the presence of an inflammatory process inside the body.
Your doctor may suggest X-rays to help track the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in your joints over time. Ultrasound and MRI tests may help your doctor judge the severity of the disease.
In the end, we should not ignore any of the signs and symptoms of the disease especially if you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis, the early diagnosis may help you to treat it better. So, you should consult your doctor at the very first sign of the disease.
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