Silent Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the body’s tissues.

Unlike osteoarthritis, that causes the wear-and-tear of joints, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling and inflammation. This eventually results in bone deterioration and joint damage. While people may be aware of the degradation of bone and joint health arising from any type of arthritis, what they don’t realise is that rheumatoid arthritis can damage other parts of the body as well.

 

Here are 10 hidden signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis that often gets overlooked:

 

1. Lung Health


Lung-health-and-RA

 

One of the most common extra-articular complications of Rheumatoid arthritis is poor lung health. People diagnosed with high rheumatoid factor or are smokers have a higher risk of developing some form of lung disease due to Rheumatoid arthritis. 

 

The most commonly seen lung diseases are :

  1. Interstitial lung disease (ILD): Occurs when there is an inflammation in the lungs, resulting in tissue buildup that can make breathing difficult.

  2. Fibrosis: Pulmonary fibrosis is a damage to your lung tissue. The stiff tissue makes it difficult for your lungs to perform optimally, making you more short of breath.

  3. Rheumatoid nodules: Rheumatoid nodules are small lumps that can form in the lungs as well as elsewhere on the body. If a lung nodule ruptures, it can cause a collapsed lung.

 

 

2. Mental Health

 

Rheumatoid arthritis can have a great impact on your daily life and functioning. It can make you slow and inhibit you from doing what you would previously excel in or enjoy doing. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth, frustration, and anger. It can lead to feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety as well.

 

 

3. Digestive Problems

 

Digestive-problems-and-RA

 

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in your digestive system. Coupled with a weakened immune system and a range of different medications, you are likely to show symptoms of gastrointestinal issues like ulcers, diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and bleeding. You may become more sensitive to certain foods as well. 

 

 

4. Fatigue

 

Fatigue when you have Rheumatoid arthritis is more than just being tired. You may feel like you have the flu, and a good night’s sleep is never enough to make you feel refreshed. 

 

This feeling of extreme exhaustion can stem from multiple comorbidity of Rheumatoid arthritis like depression and lack of sleep. It may also be a side effect of the medicines that you have been prescribed. 

 

 

5. Excessive Sweating

 

Excessive-sweating-and-RA

 

Rheumatoid arthritis can often produce flu-like symptoms, which can result in extreme fatigue and excessive sweating. Your body’s immune response may cause symptoms of low-grade fever and sweating, as if attacking the flu-virus.

 

 

6. Slow Recovery

 

The inflammation caused due to Rheumatoid arthritis weakens your immune system, which means your body now has to work twice as hard to fight other infections and illnesses. So, you may feel like you’re taking longer than usual to recover from something as simple as a cold.

 

 

7. Poor Grip

 

Poor-grip-and-RA

 

Rheumatoid arthritis weakens your bones and joints - and that directly affects your wrists and finger joints. The inflammation will make it difficult for you to hold small objects, open jars, or performing activities like writing or typing.

 

 

8. Dry Mouth, Gum Disease

 

If Rheumatoid arthritis affects your salivary glands, it can lead to a condition called dry mouth or xerostomia. It is a condition in which your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. It can lead to gum disease or tooth decay if left untreated.

 

 

9. Pain and Stiffness

 

Joint-stiffness-and-RA

 

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and stiffness in your joints even if you haven’t moved them for a while. This is called the gelling phenomenon - it is a condition that occurs when your joints have been inactive for too long, causing the synovial fluid (a fluid found in the cavities of your joint and prevents friction) to thicken. This results in difficulty moving your joints after a long period of rest.

In fact, people with Rheumatoid arthritis are advised to do regular, light exercises to manage symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis. 

 

 

10. Falling sick more often

 

You may have noticed that you fall sick easily - be it a simple cold or flu. This is simply because your immune system has been weakened due to Rheumatoid arthritis. Just how you take time to recover from any illness, similarly, you’ll be more susceptible to infections and other diseases while on medication for Rheumatoid arthritis.


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