The Direct Effects Of Rheumatoid Disease On Lung Tissue And Pleura
People with RA can develop disease in their lungs, as a consequence of their immune system attacking their joints and other tissues. Different types of lung disease can occur, including interstitial lung disease , bronchiectasis and bronchiolitis obliterans. In each of these, inflammation and damage can occur to the lung tissue, reducing the ability to absorb oxygen from the air we breathe into the bloodstream and causing breathlessness in affected people. Often this is accompanied by a persistent cough, especially with exertion. Breathing tests and a CT scan of the lungs are used to confirm the diagnosis, and precise patterns of lung disease are described.
Ra Flares Can Have Triggers
It is possible for a specific activity or event to initiate a flare-up. The activity or event sets off inflammation in the body that is difficult to stop. A flare may be triggered by:
- An illness, such as the flu
- An injury or surgery
Triggers vary from person to person. In addition, not all RA flares have clear triggers.
Get Early Treatment For Ra
We are still working to understand the natural history of lung involvement in RA and how exactly medication may be involved. At this point, I would encourage early screening for lung involvement for patients with signs and symptoms, says Sparks. If you have RA and are experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, or other respiratory symptoms, talk to your doctor. These are potentially serious symptoms that warrant prompt attention.
RELATED: Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment: Why Is It So Important?
Recommended Reading: Rheumatoid Arthritis Arm Pain
The Effects Of Ra Treatment On Lung Tissue Or The Pleura
In principle, any medication that effectively suppresses the immune driven inflammatory processes that cause RA should also be effective for all manifestations of the disease, in all organs. This is generally true, with many instances in which the early signs of lung or pleural disease on CT scan never progress to the extent that the affected person becomes breathless or develops a cough, because of the effectiveness of the medications they are taking. Nonetheless, when RA lung disease is found to get worse, it can be hard to decide if this is because the existing therapy is not completely effective at suppressing the inflammatory RA process or alternatively because the therapy itself is having a direct toxic effect on the lung or an indirect effect as a consequence of chest infections.
Sulfasalazinehas been associated with a lupus-like syndrome where pleural disease is seen, and also a hypersensitivity eosinophilic pneumonia. These are not common events and are usually reversible after stopping treatment.
Leflunomidehas been associated very infrequently with the development of ILD, particularly in Asian people.
Currently,rituximab,abataceptandmycophenolate mofetilare favoured options over TNFi, partly because of a somewhat lower risk of chest infections.
What Are Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Common complications of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
Overall, the rate of premature death is higher in people with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population. The most common causes of premature death in people with rheumatoid arthritis are infection, vasculitis, and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the manifestations of severe, long-standing disease, such as nodules, vasculitis, and deforming are becoming less common with optimal treatments.
Also Check: Rheumatoid Arthritis Edema
Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Drain Your Brain And Mood
The fear that comes with living with any chronic illness, as well as dealing with daily pain and limited mobility, can take a toll on emotional wellness. But when it comes to RA, depression may be more than just an emotional response to the disease. There is a clear link between RA and depression, says Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH, the chief of the clinical sciences section in the division of rheumatology at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston. We dont yet understand how much of the depression is from a reaction to the disease and how much is the inflammation of the disease, but they both contribute somehow.
What experts do know is that treating RAs inflammation helps quell the inflammation associated with depression. The opposite may also be true: Treating depression may lessen the pain of the disease. According to research presented in early June 2021 at the annual congress of the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology , catastrophizing about pain makes it worse, and it can actually physically impact the chances of RA remission.
Also Check: Remedy For Arthritis In Hands
Rheumatoid Arthritis Is An Autoimmune Disorder That Causes Chronic Inflammation And Pain In The Joints But Ra Can Also Affect Other Organs In The Body Such As The Heart And Lungs
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis presents as chronic pain and inflammation in the joints. Joint damage usually occurs on both sides of the body, meaning that if a joint in an arm or leg is affected, the same joint in the other arm or leg will likely be affected as well.
Have a question about
Other organs in the body can be affected by RA, as well, particularly the heart and lungs. While cardiovascular disease is the number one contributor to early death in patients with RA, lung disease ranks second. Over time, RA can cause damage to lung tissue, resulting in a condition known as pulmonary fibrosis.
In pulmonary fibrosis, thickening and scarring of lung tissue occurs. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to get absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the condition causes severe breathing problems, including shortness of breath and persistent coughing. Other symptoms include weight loss that is unintentional, fatigue, and a change in the tips of the fingers or toes — they become wider and rounder.
Also Check: Mayo Clinic Joint Pain
Stomach Pain Or Indigestion
RA and medicines used to treat it are linked to mouth and stomach ulcers, stomach bleeding, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. Painful diverticulitis and colitis are also possible if you have RA.
RA drugs like NSAIDs often cause ulcers or an upset stomach.
Belly pain is sometimes a sign of a rare RA complication called rheumatoid vasculitis when inflammation spreads to your blood vessels. Weight loss and lack of appetite are other symptoms. Vasculitis is serious, so see a doctor right away. Learn more about vasculitis symptoms and types.
You May Like: Does Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Hair Loss
Connect With Others Who Understand
A new diagnosis or new symptoms of RA can be an added challenge in your life, and it may help to have the support of others who understand what youre going through. On myRAteam, the social network for people with RA and their loved ones, more than 147,000 people come together to ask for advice and share their experiences living with RA.
Has rheumatoid arthritis affected your lungs? Share your story in the comments below or by starting a conversation on myRAteam.
Also Check: Symptoms Of Arthritis In Your Hands
With Rheumatoid Arthritis How Often Should I Exercise
Advice from your doctor is always best, so follow that first and foremost. The typical RA sufferer will need range-of-motion exercises to improve their long-term health.
Swimming is a great, low-impact way to exercise your body without intense joint pain. This is especially true with a heated pool. The water makes you feel great while you swim. Here are some steps to help you ease into a regular swimming routine:
- Begin slowly with a few minutes in a heated pool
- Use a kickboard when you first adjust to moving in the water
- Gradually build to a goal of swimming 30 minutes at a time
Stay active with water exercises! Swimming, kayaking, canoeing are all great for people living with RA because they dont put any weight on the joints while exercising.
This makes them an excellent alternative to jogging or other forms of running when dealing with arthritis pain.
Walking is also an excellent way to get some moderate aerobic activity without jarring your body too much especially when alternating between uphill and downhill routes where possible so that one set of muscles doesnt have to work harder than another.
Cycling benefits the respiratory system, and its a great way to get some exercise while chatting with friends.
But biking should be done on level ground because an uneven surface will put more stress on your joints than if you were walking or running.
Exercises that place less strain on the body include:
But there are ways to stay healthy with RA.
Be Aware Of Possible Ra Drug Risks And Side Effects
Some RA drugs are immunosuppressive and may cause infections in the lungs. No one really knows for sure how treatment for RA affects the lungs, either positively or negatively. Patients are encouraged to talk with their provider to make sure that the medications are optimal for their joint symptoms and their lung health, says Sparks.
Don’t Miss: Ra Levels High
Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Lungs
Rheumatoid Arthritis Is More Than A Joint Disease
The lungs may seem an unusual area to be attacked by Rheumatoid Arthritis after all RA is a disease known to attack joints.
However, lung disease is the 2nd most common cause of death from Rheumatoid Arthritis so here we review everything you need to know about Rheumatoid Arthritis in the lungs.
Dont Miss: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Skin
Shortness Of Breath Or Coughing And Risk Of Lymphoma
Rarely, shortness of breath or coughing is a sign of lymphoma, which is a cancer of the blood and lymph system. RA doubles the chances of getting lymphoma, raising the lifetime risk from about 2% to 4%.7,8
Other signs and symptoms of lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, itchy skin, and/or night sweats. Swollen lymph nodes appear as lumps under the skin. Unlike rheumatoid nodules, these lumps are most likely to appear in the groin, armpit, or neck.
You May Like: Is Vicks Vaporub Good For Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Lungs What Is It
As discussed in previous articles, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease whereby your bodies own protective white blood cells turn against you and start attacking your body typically focusing on the synovial fluid around your joints. This leads to inflammation, pain and ultimately many problems with your joints.
The reality however is that rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that can affect almost any organ in your body. Lung disease is the second largest reason for death from rheumatoid arthritis second only to heart disease
Indeed, in some of the most recent studies, lung disease was the only organ issue found to have actively increased in frequency despite advance in the overall treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
So while modern medicines and particularly alternative therapies have given many rheumatoid arthritis sufferers a new lease of life, an increasing number are are now finding their activities curtailed by trouble breathing.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the figure for people developing lung disease from rheumatoid arthritis is as high as 10%.
Given how prevalent rheumatoid arthritis is around the world, that is a lot of sufferers.
Rheumatoid Arthritis in the lungs can present itself in one of four key ways
1) Scarring or Interstitial Lung Disease.
This is known as Interstitial lung disease and is both the most common and most deadly of the respiratory problems that can occur with rheumatoid arthritis.
2) Lung Nodules.
4) Pleural Disease
How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Lungs
Rheumatoid arthritis is a kind of joint disease. But although it primarily affects the joint, it can affect other parts of the body such as heart, eyes, and even lungs. Thats why it is also often called as a systemic inflammatory condition.
Understanding the complications of RA in general
Since RA can be systematic, there is a chance for the inflammation to spread and target other organs. RA itself is often considered as unusual arthritis because it is rheumatoid condition. In other words, it is linked to the abnormality of the patients immune system.
Lung is not the only one of distinct organ that can be affected by RA. It also can affect the eyes, heart, mouth, kidneys, liver, blood cells , blood vessels, and even nervous system.
The most common complication of poorly-controlled RA may be joint damage. Each flare poses the risk of damage to the joint. Therefore, the goal of the treatment is to reduce the number of the flares.
More flares of RA, the greater risk to develop the complications from the disease. It seems that poorly-controlled the disease is the key for the complications to occur.
Furthermore, the complications are more likely to occur in patients who have had moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis for a long time.
How can RA affect the lungs?
Read Also: Back Arthritis Remedies
What Are The Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA is usually treated with a combination of medications to relieve swelling and pain while regulating the immune system. Joint surgery to relieve pain and disability, including joint replacement, may also be considered when these nonsurgical methods have failed to provide lasting benefit.
With early detection and intervention, RA and other forms of inflammatory arthritis can be treated very effectively. The connects patients quickly and efficiently with a rheumatologist who can evaluate their joint pain and get each patient started on an appropriate course of treatment. HSS also offers specialized for people with RA.
Today, we are blessed with a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis and characteristics of RA and the availability of safe and effective medications that can alter the natural history of RA and improve function. We start with the premise that RA is eminently controllable, and the goal of our therapies is âno evidence of disease.â That means no signs of redness, warmth, swelling or tenderness and normal function. Since we would not accept uncontrolled illness in angina, chronic obstructive lung disease, hypertension or diabetes, we should similarly not accept it in RA. Luckily, today, we have the therapeutic tools to make this happen.
Donât Miss: Is Peanut Butter Bad For Arthritis
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis particularly affects the small joints in the hands, wrist and feet. RA may also involve the elbows, knees, ankles and other body parts. The joint involvement in RA is symmetric, which means that if the joints in the fingers of your left hand pain, you will experience pain in the fingers of the right hand, too. The common symptoms of RA are
- Chest pain or pressure
The symptoms of RA do not remain the same all the time. There may be exacerbation and resolution from time to time.
Also Check: Rheumatoid Arthritis And Itchy Skin
Ways Ra Affects Your Skin
One of the most common areas affected by RA is the skin. With RA, there are often many factors that can affect the skin, including:
- Friction from repeated motion or pressure on a joint- this is particularly true when people with RA have to transfer themselves in and out of bed.
- Superficial wounds or ulcers may develop because patients are more prone to infection than other people due to their compromised immune system.
These risk factors need special attention so that they dont lead to complications such as sepsis .
Patients should always consult their physician for appropriate interventions like antibiotics if necessary in order to prevent these situations from occurring.
The skin can become dry and may also develop a rash, which can be red or purple in color. The most common area affected are the hands and feet.
Types Of Pulmonary Involvement
Respiratory symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis can be due to a variety of conditions that affect the parenchyma, pleura, airways or vasculature . Complications may arise directly from rheumatoid arthritis involvement or may occur secondary to immune-modulating medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The majority of respiratory manifestations occur within the first 5years of disease . Respiratory symptoms may precede onset of articular symptoms in 1020% of cases . However, they may be masked by poor functional status from joint disease or chronic inflammation.
Pulmonary manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis
Don’t Miss: Tell Me About Arthritis
Rheumatoid Lung Disease Symptoms
Typical RA symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Rheumatoid lung disease has specific additional symptoms that include:
- Chest pain
- Crackle sounds when listening to lungs with a stethoscope decreased breath sounds or normal breath sounds are also possible
Rheumatoid lung disease may not present with symptoms until the condition has advanced. That’s why it’s imperative to see a doctor once they begin.
The thoracic and pulmonary abnormalities associated with rheumatoid lung disease include:
- Pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure in the lungs’ blood vessels
- Pulmonary fibrosis, scarring of lung tissue
- Pleural effusion, or “water on the lungs”
- Pleural thickening, scarring of the lungs’ lining
- Necrobiotic nodules, abnormal lumps within the lung
- Bronchiectasis, thickening of the bronchial walls
- Bronchiolitis obliterans, inflammatory obstruction of the bronchioles, the lungs’ tiniest airways
- Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, a separate type of disease than ILD
How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Lungs
A small percentage of people with RA are diagnosed with a condition known as interstitial lung disease or ILD. It typically appears in patients between the ages of 50 and 60. In ILD, the same autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the joints also leads to inflammation and scarring in the lungs. ILD can lead to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and a dry, unproductive cough. In instances where severe scarring has built up over time enough that treatment with corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and oxygen therapy no longer help a lung transplant may be required.
ILD is also associated with environmental factors like smoking or exposure to asbestos or dust from coal. While most RA patients are not smokers, Dr. Sparks strongly urges any who are smokers to stop immediately. People with RA are eight times more likely to develop ILD than someone who does not have RA.
Not all lung inflammation from RA leads to ILD, however. There might be many other patients that have some subtle inflammation in the lung that never really caused a symptom, Dr. Sparks said. Some might progress very slowly where a chest CT today might find a little bit of inflammation, and two years down the road, it’s gotten to the point where it’s causing more issues. In these instances, Dr. Sparks explained, the treatment course is developed on a case-by-case basis.
You May Like: How To Stop Arthritis In Fingers