What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? What are the common symptoms?
Often as the term arthritis is revealed, views start to pour in from all corners with near and dear ones describing their take on the disease. Often considered as disease of elderly, you are left to ponder why it has happened to you? Where did you go wrong to this disease of “old”. Everyone will feed you with their “general experiences” and adds to dilemma. Remember disease of elderly called osteoarthritis is not same as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It is important to understand your disease as ignorance here won’t be a bliss. Take command and be the architect of your life. Knowledge about disease helps you allay your fear to some extent
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means there are cells in the body which are meant to protect you from foreign invasion like infection, begin to consider your own body as alien for eg your joints. They start attacking your joints. Imagine police who were supposed to keep criminals in check but start attacking civilians.
The disease generally affects small and large joints in a symmetrical fashion and is characterised by pain and swelling in these joints. You may suffer from morning stiffness which can last beyond thirty minutes.
Misfiring of your immune cells may not be limited to joints and you may get other manifestations in theform of long standing cough when lungs are affected or nodules or dryness of mouth or eyes. Knowing your disease well will help you tackle it better because there are so many treatment options available. Important is timely diagnosis and management.
Treatment options are plenty but important is to take medications timely and follow doctor’s advice carefully. We may not cure you but we can help you achieve disease control so that you feel like a healthy individual.
What symptoms should alert you?
- Five or more joints involved
- Same joints involved on both sides
- Disease duration more than six weeks
- Early morning stiffness of more 30 minutes or stiffness after a period of rest
- Presence of other symptoms like nodules or dry cough or breathlessness
- Dryness of mouth or eyes ortingling/numbnessor an ulcer