Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can best be described as an autoimmune disease. That is, it is a disease or illness that occurs when the tissues of the body are inadvertently attacked by its own immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis will cause a chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissues that surround the joints, and also certain organs in the body. The immune system is basically designed to seek out and destroy invaders of the body, especially infections. The immune system contains an extremely complex organization of cells and antibodies.

A patient who suffers from an autoimmune disease will have antibodies in their blood that will specifically target their own body’s tissues. This is particularly associated with inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is often referred to as rheumatoid disease due to the fact that it is a systematic illness. Unfortunately because it is a chronic illness, it may last for many years and as a patient you may even experience long periods without suffering any symptoms. However, you should consider that rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive illness and can potentially affect your bodily functions and can destroy the joints.

Unfortunately the main cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. However it has long been suspected that viruses, bacteria and fungi can cause this illness, but this has never been proven. Many believe that rheumatoid arthritis is actually genetically inherited. While others believe that certain factors within the environment or infections can trigger the activation of the immune system within individuals who are especially susceptible. As the immune system has been misdirected, it will then attack the body’s own tissues. This will then lead to an inflammation of the joints and may also inflame various organs of the body. The most common organs to be affected are typically the eyes and lungs.

Even though we are not fully aware of the exact trigger, the results will promote inflammation of the joints and other tissues of the body via the immune system. Many scientists have reported that certain environmental factors, such as smoking tobacco, can lead to rheumatoid arthritis. You will find that the symptoms will come and go however once the body’s tissues are inflamed, the disease has become active. Whenever the inflammation subsides, the disease can be considered to be in remission. You may find that a remission will occur spontaneously and may last for many weeks, months or even years. During a period of remission you should feel generally well and the symptoms of this disease will disappear. When the disease returns once again, this is considered a relapse, and the symptoms will become active.

When rheumatoid arthritis is active your symptoms may include fatigue, loss of energy, a lack of appetite, low-grade fever, and joint and muscle aches. The muscle aches will generally lead to stiffness and these are typically most noticeable in the mornings or after a long period of inactivity. You may notice that your joints swell up, become tender, extremely painful and may even become red. This is generally because the lining tissue of the joints will become inflamed, and will therefore produce far more joint fluid (synovial fluid).

Rheumatoid arthritis can commonly inflame multiple joints that are symmetrical to each other. For example, the small joints that are contained within the hands and wrists often become involved. You may often find that many simple tasks you perform around the house, such as opening a jar or turning a doorknob, become increasingly difficult. Additionally the small joints within the feet are often affected. Should you suffer from chronic inflammation this may cause damage to many of your body’s tissues, which typically include the cartilage and bone. This can, unfortunately, lead to a loss of cartilage and your bones and muscles may even erode. This can eventually lead to weak muscles, deformed joints and even a loss of function. Rheumatoid arthritis has even been known to tighten the vocal cords and can actually change the tone of your voice. You may notice that when this joint becomes inflamed, your voice will feel hoarse.

As rheumatoid arthritis is considered a systematic disease, inflammation can eventually affect numerous areas of the body of the joints. Many sufferers note an inflammation of the glands of their eyes and mouth, which can cause dryness. There may also be rheumatoid inflammation of the lung lining which will cause shortness of breath, potential chest pains and deep breathing, and coughing. You may even find the lung tissue has been inflamed or scarred. Rheumatoid disease has also been known to reduce the production of both red and white blood cells. It is known that a decreased level of white blood cells is often associated with an enlarged spleen, which in turn, can dramatically increase the risk of infections.

Last updated on Dec 27th, 2010 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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