Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Facts You Need To Know

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an immune system disease affecting people of all ages. It is most often diagnosed in middle age but also affects children and the elderly.
Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men. RA causes chronic inflammation of the joints, specifically the layers between the joints, but also may cause inflammation in other organs of the body.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown.
Factors considered are genetic makeup, something in the environment may trigger the disease and hormonal or bacterial factors could be involved in causing RA.
People with rheumatoid arthritis usually experience periods of flares and remissions.
The disease varies greatly in individuals with some developing symptoms quickly over a short period of time while others experience flares and remissions intermittently.
Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed by an examination of tender or swollen joints, a blood test called the rheumatoid factor (RF), the presence of stiffness in the early morning or after a period of inactivity, bumps or nodules under the skin near joints, and sometimes an x-ray. The RF test is only positive in 80 percent of people with RA.
Sufferers of RA may be mildly anemic and another test for inflammation called erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) may be elevated. Sometimes people with RA test positive on an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test.
Because rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disease, anything that affects the immune system (like allergic reactions) may trigger a flare.
If you suffer from RA it's extremely important to limit exposure to contagious diseases since immune system defenses are lowered.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a life-long disease but with medication as tolerated, a balance in exercise and rest while protecting the joints people with RA can live long and productive lives.
There are many systemic manifestations of the disease and mortality is highest for patients who are affected in areas other than the joints.
Occasionally inflammation of the membranes around the heart and lungs or inflammation of the lung tissues itself can occur.
Life expectancy in sufferers is reduced by an average of seven years, although some of this is undoubtedly due to the side effects of treatment.
RA sufferers who learn to live within their limitations and 'listen' to their body's signals can halt severe flares while respectfully realizing the unpredictability of this disease.
The book "Extraordinary Healing" by Art Brownstein, M.D. discusses how our "body's secret healing system" works, on pg. 329-331 it discusses in depth how to 'activate' that healing system.
Good health to you!
Contact information:

© Copyright 2010 Sandy Guerriere. All Rights Reserved.