Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the 1800’s, the disease Rheumatoid Arthritis was discovered by a French medical student, Augustin-Jacob Landre-Beauvais. Since the 1800’s, the science behind this disease has developed greatly. In this paper I would like to discuss the meaning of Rheumatoid Arthritis, the source, side effects, people who are more likely to be affected and the care needed to prevent or minimize the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Our immune system is a very important part of our body, the immune system attacks foreign substances like bacteria and viruses that have entered our body and that can make us ill. However, sometimes our immune system starts to think that our joints are a foreign substance and mistakenly starts to attack our joints and this is known as rheumatoid arthritis.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis has not yet been completely understood. However, there is some scientific evidence that proposes that genes, hormones and the environment we live in may be factors to getting the disease. In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, people experience tenderness and pain in their joints. The more serious symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation of tissue that causes the tissue lines inside the joints to thicken. The thickening of the tissue around the joints results in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The joints in our hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles are most likely affected by this disease. However, the entire body may also be affected, rheumatoid arthritis can attack our cardiovascular system or respiratory system. The cardiovascular system is the organs and tissues involved in circulating blood and lymph (fluid containing white blood cells) through the body. The respiratory system is organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, the primary organ of this system are the lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis is known as a symmetrical disease, meaning if one side of our body is being affected by it so is the exact other side. This means if our right knee is affected by rheumatoid arthritis there is a very high likelihood our left knee will also be affected by it.

The symptoms and effects of rheumatoid arthritis are not permanent, they come and go, however, ongoing high levels of inflammation can cause major problems in the body. The increase of inflammation and other symptoms is called a flare. A flare can last for days or even months. The organs, body system or body fluids that can be affected by this disease and a flare are our eyes, mouth, skin, lungs, blood vessels, and blood. Due to rheumatoid arthritis our eyes suffer from dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision; our mouth can suffer from dryness as well and gum irritation or infection; small lumps can be created under the skin over our bones; our lungs can inflame which may lead to shortness of breath; our blood vessels can also inflame that can led to damage in our nerves and other organs; we can also become anemic (a lower number red blood cells) due to rheumatoid arthritis. Another symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is damage to our cartilage. Cartilage is a firm, elastic, flexible type of connective tissue of a translucent whitist or yellowish color.

Cartilage also covers the ends of bones in joints as well as the bones themselves. Due to rheumatoid arthritis our body starts to loss cartilage and the space between joints and bones become smaller or the joints become loose. This is very painful for the body and this can lead to loss of mobility of that particular part of body. There about 1.5 million people in American only that have rheumatoid arthritis. Women are more prone to the disease than men. Studies have shown that near three times as women have the diseased compared to men. Women in the age range of 30 to 60 are at the highest risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, men get rheumatoid arthritis later, after 60 years of age, in their life. Studies have also shown that a person’s genetic makeup plays a huge factor of being diagnosed with the disease. People with a specific genetic marker called the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) have a five times greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. HLA is a system or “gene complex encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins in humans.

These cell-surface proteins are responsible for the regulation of the immune system in humans. The complex helps the immune system distinguish the body’s own proteins from proteins made by foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.” (Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-Care, n.d.) Another words the immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. When HLA is in our genetic makeup our immune system starts to believe our cells are a foreign body and start to attack them. Ongoing research discovered links to other factors that prone a person to get rheumatoid arthritis. However, these studies are still being developed. These factors include: foreign substances like bacteria and viruses in the body that trigger development of the disease in a person whose genes make is prone to get the disease; female hormones; obesity; stressful events such as physical or emotional trauma; our environment; family history of the diseases and smoking or air pollution. These factors make a person more prone to get the disease.

Our body give us clues that something might be wrong. Early clues that a person might be suffering or development rheumatoid arthritis are joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer; morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer; and same joints on both sides of the body are affected. Along with pain, many people also experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever. No test has been created that can confirm whether a person has rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, medical history, physical exam and diagnostic test play a huge role in the determination of having the disease or not. If rheumatoid arthritis has been in your family’s medical history there is a high likelihood you may suffer from the diseases as well. Therefore, doctors will ask questions about your family’s medial history to see if you are prone to getting it. If a person is suffering from pain, tenderness, stiffness and has difficulty moving: this hints to a person developing or have developed rheumatoid arthritis. Another way to discover whether a person is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is a physical examination. A doctor will examine each joint and look for tenderness, swelling, warmth and painful or limited movement.

Furthermore, blood test can also measure the inflammation levels in a person body and link them to rheumatoid arthritis or not. Looking at a person’s genetic makeup or biomarkers can also hint if someone is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Also, if rheumatoid factor is found in a person they are suffering from the disease of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid is an antibody found in about 80 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, an x-ray or ultrasound can disclose joint damage which is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. These are some methods to determining if someone has the disease or not. The goal to treat symptoms is to stop inflammation, relieve symptoms, prevent joint and organ damages, improve physical function and overall well-being, and to reduce long term complications. Medications are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and to reach the above-mentioned goals. These medications work in two ways: some medication are used to ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and others are used to slow or stop the course of the disease and to prevent structural damage.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over the counter and by prescription that help cure the disease. Surgery is another way to cure the disease. For people that end up with permanent damage that limits their daily function and/or mobility joint replacement surgery can relieve pain and restore function in joints that have been badly damaged by rheumatoid arthritis. Hip and knee replacements are common for people who have rheumatoid arthritis. The procedure involves replacing damaged parts of a joint with metal and plastic parts. Ways to prevent rheumatoid arthritis from happening to you is to take care of yourself. In your life, play an active role in maintaining a good quality of life.

The following are some way to prevent getting rheumatoid arthritis. One way is to eat healthy. Studies have shown that foods that are rich in antioxidants help control and reduce inflammation. A Mediterranean diet is good to follow because it contains foods that are rich in antioxidants such as: fish, vegetables, fruits and olive oil. It is also important to eliminate or significantly reduce processed and fast foods that cause inflammation. The second way is to have good balance between rest and physical activity. Exercise that focus on flexibility, muscle strengthening, and/or physical therapy can also help treat rheumatoid arthritis. However, rest is equally as important to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Taking breaks throughout the day help reduce inflammation and reduces pain, swelling and stiffness. Another way to cure or prevent rheumatoid arthritis is heat and cold treatments. Heat treatments (such as heat pads or warm baths) smooth stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold treatment help with the pain, it numbs painful areas and reduces inflammation. I am a very active person, contracting such a disease will impact my life in many ways. I would not be able to enjoy my everyday activites without pain. This disease will also effect my job of being a DJ on the weekends because I will not be able to move around my equipment freely. In conclusion, as stated above Rheumatoid Arthritis has very painful side affects this is why everyone should practice to live and active and health life. 

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