Can Sunlight Trigger Lupus In The First Place How
In January 2019, Seattle resident Diane Lee took a vacation to Mexico to enjoy some much-needed time in the sun. When she came home, she noticed an itchy, red rash on her face.
I saw a dermatologist who biopsied the rash, Diane says, and I found out I had lupus.
Dr. Carlin explained how this occurs: Autoimmune diseases strike when proteins called autoantibodies attack healthy tissues. People with lupus and other diseases may have autoantibodies floating around in their bodies for years before they start these attacks. It’s typically only a matter of time until these people get lupus but one event, like a sunburn, might trigger their attack and spark the disease.
Think of it like a car accident, Dr. Carlin says. Youre driving along and you hit a patch of ice, which causes you to lose control of the car and hit something. Sunburn is the ice. It can trigger a series of events in your body that causes these autoantibodies to start attacking.
Common Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs
Your doctor has choices to make within each class of RA medicine. Finding the right treatment for you, that is effective with the least RA medication side effects, may involve some trial and error. Here are 10 drugs commonly prescribed for RA:
Adalimumab is a biologic medication for injection under the skin. You will get the first dose in your doctors office. After that, the typical dose is self-administered once a week or every other week.
Celecoxib is an NSAID, specifically a type called a COX-2 inhibitor. It is a capsule you take once or twice a day, usually with food.
Etanercept is a self-administered biologic for once- or twice-weekly injection under the skin. Like Humira, you will get the first dose in your doctors office.
Hydroxychloroquine is a DMARD. It comes as a tablet you usually take once a day with food. For higher doses, your doctor may recommend splitting the dose to twice daily.
Indomethacin is an NSAID. It is available as a capsule, extended-release capsule, and a suspension. The ER capsule offers the most convenient dosing at once or twice daily with food.
Leflunomide is another DMARD you usually take once daily. Your doctor may have you take it more often during the first several days of treatment.
Methotrexate is a DMARD that is very effective for RA. It is available as either a tablet or injection under the skin. Doctors usually prescribe a weekly dose to decrease side effects.
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Why Is Vitamin D Important For Arthritis
Vitamin D is produced in the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight, specifically light in the UVB light spectrum. This same spectrum of light also produces several other hormones and peptides that contribute to systemic health and wellness. Substances made from chemical reactions with sunlight are called photoproducts. While vitamin D is the most universally recognized health benefit humans receive from sun exposure, it is just one of many important photoproducts.
In addition to vitamin D, other healthy photoproducts made in the same UVB wavelength range include: Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide, Neuropeptide Substance P, Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone, Calcitriol, and Beta Endorphin. These photoproducts have widespread impact on the body and are involved in regulating the immune system, promoting proper blood flow, reducing inflammation, acting as natural pain killers, and more.
The correlation between higher blood levels of vitamin D and disease prevention in many epidemiological studies is actually measuring sun exposure and not supplemental vitamin D. Population studies have repeatedly demonstrated that sun exposure is a larger contributor of vitamin D concentration than oral consumption. Therefore, at a population level, vitamin D is actually a measure of sun exposure, and higher serum concentrations are an indicator of greater skin contact with the suns light.
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Does What You Eat Have An Effect On Ra
Question: Does what I eat have an effect on my rheumatoid arthritis? I heard about an anti-inflammatory diet that includes eating salmon and dark chocolate and drinking green tea. I currently take medication for my RA, but it cant hurt to try this anti-inflammatory diet, right? Santa Barbara, CA
Answer: Youre right: What you eat may have a mild effect on your rheumatoid arthritis . Some foodsas part of the anti-inflammatory dietmay have an anti-inflammatory effect, which means that they may reduce inflammation levels in your body.
The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to reduce the overall inflammation in your body. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
Inflammation in your body can cause swollen, stiff, and/or tender jointsclassic RA symptoms.
The difference between this so-called diet and other diets is that the goal isnt necessarily weight lossalthough anti-inflammatory foods do encourage weight loss. Rather, the goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to reduce the overall inflammation in your body.
Eating to avoid constant inflammation is good for your overall health, but the question is: Is it enough to eat anti-inflammatory foods to combat inflammation?
Most people eat too many foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that can be found in highly processed foods, red meat, full-fat dairy foods, saturated fats, trans fats, and baked goods. These foods can promote inflammation.
Below are some other foods that may ease the inflammation associated with RA.
Carrying Around Extra Weight
Lugging around extra pounds isnt good for people with RA, Fischer says. It adds extra stress and strain on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. Being overweight can add to other RA health problems too, he notes.
If you have joint pain, the last thing you may want to do is exercise but dont skip it. Keep moving with low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming, and make adjustments to protect yourself if you need to.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with RA do a blend of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, flexibility, and balance exercises. The Arthritis Foundation has videos to show you how to safely stretch hamstrings, hips, calves, and other areas before and after exercising.
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How Does It Help
Vitamin D has been shown to help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways. Vitamin D helps to preserve the cartilage in your joints especially in your knees.
Also, vitamin D helps ensure your muscles are working properly. When your muscles work as they should, your joints dont have to work as hard. Having strong muscles surrounding your joints can relieve pain caused by arthritis.
Of course, its best to never develop rheumatoid arthritis at all. Getting enough vitamin D can actually prevent you from getting rheumatoid arthritis.
Dates Have Several Earmarks Of A Winning Heart
The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dried fruits. They also recommend eating a diet rich in potassium and low in sodium for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Like many other fruits, dates are high in potassium and low in sodium. In addition, as we learned earlier, dates are loaded with antioxidants, and one of the most researched health benefits of antioxidants is their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Given all that, it is not surprising that dates have been found to have anti-atherogenic properties . Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
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Heat Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Heat helps improve your pain tolerance and relaxes muscles, both of which can reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Heat treatment remains a standard part of the physical therapists practice. But you don’t need to visit a physical therapist to reap the benefits of heat therapy. Here are some techniques you can use at home.
Warm bath or shower. A hot tub or a bathtub equipped with water jets can closely duplicate the warm-water massage of whirlpool baths used by professionalsfor most people, the bathtub works nearly as well. Soaking for 15 to 20 minutes in a warm bath allows the weight-bearing muscles to relax.
A warm shower can also help lessen the stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. You can upgrade your shower with an adjustable shower-head massager thats inexpensive and easy to install. It should deliver a steady, fine spray or a pulsing stream, usually with a few options in between.
After a warm shower or bath, dress warmly to prolong the benefit.
Paraffin bath. Some therapists recommend a paraffin bath. You dip your hands or feet into wax melted in an electric appliance that maintains a safe temperature. After the wax hardens, the therapist wraps the treated area in a plastic sheet and blanket to retain the heat. Treatments generally take about 20 minutes, after which the wax is peeled off. Paraffin bath kits are also available for home use, but talk with your physical therapist for recommendations and cautions before you buy one.
Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Research shows that people who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.
Self-care can help you play a role in managing your RA and improving your health. You can:
- Learn about rheumatoid arthritis and its treatments.
- Use exercises and relaxation techniques to reduce your pain and help you stay active.
- Communicate well with your health care team so you can have more control over your disease.
- Reach out for support to help cope with the physical emotional, and mental effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Participating in your care can help build confidence in your ability to perform day-to-day activities, allowing you to lead a full, active, and independent life.
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Watch Our Video About What Rheumatoid Arthritis Is
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints.
It is what is known as an auto-immune condition. This means that the immune system, which is the bodys natural self-defence system, gets confused and starts to attack your bodys healthy tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the main way it does this is with inflammation in your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 adults aged 16 and over in the UK. It can affect anyone of any age. It can get worse quickly, so early diagnosis and intensive treatment are important. The sooner you start treatment, the more effective its likely to be.
To understand how rheumatoid arthritis develops, it helps to understand how a normal joint works.
- Ordering laboratory tests.
- Ordering imaging studies, such as x-rays or ultrasound.
It can be difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis when it is in the early stages because:
- The disease develops over time, and only a few symptoms may be present in the early stages.
- There is no single test for the disease.
- Symptoms differ from person to person.
- Symptoms can be similar to those of other types of arthritis and joint conditions.
As a result, doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose the disease and to rule out other conditions.
Sunlight Reduces Risk Of Arthritis
Regular exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B , may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. These were the findings from a long-term study of more than 200,000 women, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The report speculated that vitamin D, which the body produces when exposed to sunlight, might protect women from arthritis.
The study estimated the levels of UV-B exposure using a detailed assessment based on latitude, altitude, and cloud cover, categorised as low, medium or high. It is measured in R-B units: for instance a count of 440 R-B units over 30 minutes is sufficient to produce slight redness in untanned white skin. Exposure was then estimated according to the US state of residence, and ranged from an annual average of 93 in Alaska and Oregon to 196 in Hawaii and Arizona. Likely estimates of UV exposure at birth and by the age of 15 were also included.Those involved in the study were female nurses from two age groups: the first aged 30 to 55 were monitored from 1976 onwards and the second group were aged 25 to 42 monitored from 1989. The UV-B effect was clearly evident in the study of more than 120,000 nurses in the older age group. Those with the highest levels of exposure were 21% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those with the lowest levels.
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Who Does It Help
In a recent study published in the scholarly journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers found that women who got high levels of UV-B exposure were 21 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
The women in the study were between the ages of 30 and 55. In a second phase of the study, younger women did not appear to experience the benefit of UV-B exposure in preventing rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers believe that this is because the younger women were more conscious of their sun exposure and took measures to limit their time in the sun or to wear UV-protective sunscreen.
So this doesnt mean that only older women benefit from sun exposure. What this means is that getting enough UV-B exposure is believed to significantly help reduce the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. At this point, the study data are only suggestive of a link between UV-B exposure, vitamin D, and preventing rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed to definitively say whether UV-B exposure and vitamin D actually cause a decrease in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
What Causes Photosensitivity In People With Arthritis
There are two main ways your disease can cause you to react to sunlight, says Stuart Kaplan, MD, a rheumatologist with Rheumatology Consultants, LLP, and chief of rheumatology at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York.
First: The disease itself may cause it. Lupus is known for causing photosensitivity. In fact, photosensitivity is one of the criteria used for diagnosing lupus, Dr. Kaplan explains.
Other kinds of inflammatory arthritis may cause photosensitivity as well, says Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist and founder of Amber Noon, a line of UV-protective clothing. Its unclear exactly why this happens, but researchers think that your already overactive immune system may see something in your sun-altered skin as foreign and go on attack.
Second: Many arthritis medications have sun sensitivity as a known side effect.
Abbie V., 37, of Las Vegas, Nevada, has experienced both types of sun reactions. Its actually how I got diagnosed with lupus. Whenever Id be out in the sun for longer than 10 minutes I would get this bright red rash across my cheeks, she says. It was so prominent that people would comment on it all the time, so I finally decided to get it checked out.
It felt like I had the flu on top of a fever on top of a sunburn it really was the worst, she explains. It took over a month to fully go away.
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Ra Diet: What Foods To Eat If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis patients require a stable, healthy diet for a number of reasons. Patients may become overwhelmed by their chronic pain and inflammation, remain undernourished, or develop medical complications.
Maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of protecting your overall health, managing weight, improving energy levels, boosting your mental health and boosting your immune system. While diet alone cant treat your symptoms, the right diet for RA can certainly go a long way in helping you feel better overall.
Yes It’s Possible To Have Too Much Vitamin D
Supplementing with vitamin D is a balancing act. Excessive vitamin D supplementation over time can be toxic, leading to abnormal heart rhythms, kidney stones, muscle weakness, and confusion. Still, this is rare and happens only with extremely high-dose supplementation60,000 IU a day for several months, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your doctor can help you find the right dose for you.
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Managing Arthritis During The Summer
Life with arthritis is certainly a struggle, but its crucial to find ways to reduce symptoms and keep living life.
One way you can help to manage your symptoms is by understanding how things outside of your control can exacerbate arthritis pain. Once you understand it, take the proper action to protect yourself. For many people, arthritis symptoms seem to get worse in the summer months, and theres a good reason for that.
Keep reading to learn more about arthritis pain in the hot summer months and what you can do to help alleviate it.
Summer and arthritis explained.
If your arthritis seems to flare up in summer, youre not alone, and you can blame the heat and humidity. The hotter it is outside, the more your body will be susceptible to swelling. The more prone to swelling you are, the more pain you will have.
Research shows that barometric pressure can also have some impact. The pressure changes outside can cause your joints to be more sensitive to pain. When the pressure changes, your joints will often feel tighter and stiff, creating a vicious cycle of swelling and pain.
If you live in coastal North Carolina, there is no avoiding the heat and humidity, so the best thing you can do it educate and protect yourself.
Hydration is key.
It is important to stay extra hydrated during the summer for these reasons, water helps keep cartilage soft and hydrated, and it promotes healthy blood volume, which allows nutrients to move through your blood and into your joints.
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