Definition of Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis or RA for short is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops gradually and affects both sides of your body. Symptoms usually are contractures, thickening or tender swelling around the joints, painful inflammation, etc.
Besides joint, RA can affect eyes, skin, lungs, blood vessels and heart, and other organs. Also anti inflammatory and pain killer medicaments has numerous side effects, as dealing with these disease day in and day out have a profound psychological impact. In order to manage possible complications of RA, it is very important to recognize the symptoms of it. Here is a short list of possible RA complications.
Complications of RA
Susceptibility to infectionBeing an auto immune disease and requiring auto immune medications, patients with RA are more prone to infections. New and very effective type of RA medications, called biologic agents has that side effect to elevate the risk of serious infections.
Lung problemsThere is a possibility, in cases when RA is formed in the lungs, that inflammatory process can spread to the lining of the heart and lungs, infecting them as well. This could lead to complications like fluid infection, Pleuritis, pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung diseases. Also some of the medicaments used to treat RA like methotrexate can potentially cause lung problems.
Emotional effectsLiving every day with a painful and immobilizing chronic disease like RA, must put a lot of strain and stress in the patients. Studies shows that almost 11% of RA patients succumb to depressive mental states. These studies also show that patients are reluctant to talk about it with their doctors.
Blood and blood forming cells diseasesAlmost in every case of RA anemia is present. Anemia is a red blood cell reduction, and it may cause symptoms like rapid heart beat, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and insomnia. Also RA itself with inflammation it causes can raise the level of blood platelets while anti immune medicaments given for RA can lower it.
Skin effectsAbout 20% of RA patients develop some kind of skin problem, as a direct consequence of RA or treatment for it. Tissue lumps are most common and they may appear on the elbows, heels, fingers and forearms. Also various types of skin rashes may occur, and so does sores, too. It is important to pay attention to any skin changes, and report it to your doctor.
Eye complicationsThere are several ways that RA can affect the eyes, one being the inflammation of the episclera, membrane that covers white portion of the eye. Also white portion of the eye may be inflamed itself, in which case it is called Scleritis.