Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which your immune system attacks the tissue lining your joints on both sides of your body. It might affect other body parts too. The exact cause is unknown and the treatment options include dietary changes, medication, surgery, nutritional therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease. Compared to other forms of arthritis, RA affects joints on both sides of your body. A person might experience discomfort and inflammation in their:
Uncontrolled inflammation damages the cartilage in your joints, which often acts as a “shock absorber.” As a result, your joints may distort over time and eventually, your bone will deteriorate too. This can cause your joint to fuse together (it happens when your body puts effort to protect itself from constant irritation).
This procedure is made possible by specific immune system cells, which serve as your body’s infection-fighting system. These substances are produced in the joints, but they also circulate throughout the body, causing symptoms. Sometimes, rheumatoid arthritis might affect other body parts too, including your skin, eyes, mouth, lungs and heart.
Who Is Affected By Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Millions of people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. It is 2.5 times more common in females than in males.
The Role Of Genetics In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, the majority of which are unknown.
Hundreds of genes have been studied as potential risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis. The majority of these genes are either known or suspected of being involved in immune system function. Variations in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes are the most significant genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.
The proteins produced by HLA genes aid the immune system in distinguishing between proteins produced by the body and proteins produced by foreign intruders (viruses and bacteria). Other gene changes appear to have a smaller effect on a person’s overall risk of developing the condition.
Nongenetic factors are thought to play a role in rheumatoid arthritis as well. These factors may cause the condition in people who are predisposed to it, though the mechanism is unknown. Changes in sex hormones (particularly in women), occupational exposure to certain types of dust or fibers, and viral or bacterial infections are all potential triggers. Long-term smoking is a well-known risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis; it is also linked to more severe signs and symptoms in people who already have the disease.
Symptoms and indicators of rheumatoid arthritis typically appear in middle to late adulthood. Many affected people will experience flares—periods when symptoms are present—followed by remissions for the rest of their lives. In severe cases, the disease’s effects on the affected person’s health can last for years. As a result, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, it is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.