The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary from person to person, but they typically include joint pain that commonly affects the hands, wrists, and knees. The condition can also involve stiffness and swelling in affected areas, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Some people may also experience numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. And, in severe cases, it can lead to disability. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are treatments that can help to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. These include medication, physical therapy, and surgery. People with rheumatoid arthritis should work with their healthcare team to create a treatment plan that meets their individual needs. With this, here are six surprising facts about rheumatoid arthritis that you may not be aware of:
Women are more likely to develop RA than men
Rheumatoid arthritis is three times more common in women than in men. This is because estrogen, a female sex hormone, is thought to play a role in the development of RA in women. The condition manifests differently in men and women because of the differences in lifestyle choices. For instance, women are more likely to be more active in their home lives, which can increase the likelihood of triggering flare-ups. Meanwhile, men are more likely to smoke, which can also worsen the symptoms of RA.
Children can go into remission permanently
While RA is most commonly seen in adults, children can also develop the condition known as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). In fact, JIA is one of the most common types of arthritis in children. Unlike adults, however, arthritis in children, can become permanently inactive as they grow older. This means some children with RA may not experience symptoms after reaching adulthood. But not all children with RA will go into remission because this highly depends on how the condition was managed during childhood. In contrast, adults with RA typically have the disease for life.
RA can cause tooth loss
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting more than just your joints. It can also lead to tooth loss through periodontitis, where the tissues and bone that support your teeth become inflamed. This inflammation can cause the supportive tissues to break down, eventually leading to tooth loss. If this happens, you’ll need to see your dentist for options so you can restore your smile. This is because missing teeth can also make it difficult to eat and speak properly. Common solutions include dentures or implants. But suppose you don’t want any limitation on what you can chew or you want to prevent bone loss in your jaw. In that case, implants are a suitable option for your preferences. You can get a full mouth dental implant procedure that can give you a brand new set of teeth that look and feel just like your natural ones. Doing so can help improve your quality of life and make it easier for you to eat and speak normally again.
Cigarette smoking is a risk factor
Smokers are more likely to develop RA than non-smokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can trigger inflammation, and smokers are also exposed to higher levels of environmental toxins. In addition, smoking impairs the function of immune cells, making the body more susceptible to diseases. It’s also why many smokers diagnosed with RA are likely to quit smoking during the early stages of the condition.
People with RA often experience brain fog
People with RA often experience brain fog, and it can be related to inflammatory conditions brought by RA. Brain fog can cause problems with thinking, memory, and concentration. It can make it difficult to focus or remember simple things. Brain fog can also affect a person’s mood, making them feel tired or depressed. However, there are ways to minimize the impacts of brain fog, including regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Flare ups can be both predictable and unpredictable
Flare-ups refer to the periods when RA symptoms get worse and can be both predictable and unpredictable. It is predictable because stress, poor sleep, and overexertion are among the triggers that can cause a flare-up. For example, if you clean the house and overexert your body, you may experience a flare-up the next day. However, flare-ups can also be unpredictable because they can still happen even without engaging in any triggers. They can occur with varying intensity, frequency, and duration. So if your flare-up happens too often or is too intense, you should consult your doctor.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to be aware of the potential complications of the disease and to seek treatment as soon as possible to try to prevent joint damage and deformity. While there is no cure for RA, there are now many effective treatments available that can help to control the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.