Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a greatly misunderstood disease. Even the people who suffer from it often have very little insight into what it is and how it manifests itself in the body. And after thousands of pages of research, the cause of RA still manages to confound even doctors and scientists.
Take the following quiz to increase your knowledge of RA. The results may surprise you.
Having RA may increase your risk for osteoporosis.
True. RA suffers are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than non RA sufferers.
According to Dr. Julie Carkin, medical director of osteoporosis services at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, there are several ways in which RA causes bone loss. The three biggest causes of bone loss for RA sufferers are inflammation, sedentary lifestyle, and certain RA medications, such as corticosteroids.
RA can be:
RA can be classified in one of two categories: Type I is temporary, lasting only a few months and leaving no permanent disability. Type II is chronic and can last from a few years to an entire lifetime.
The onset of RA is most common between the ages of:
Although RA can begin at any age, it most often occurs between 30 and 60 years of age.
There are, however, some cases in which RA surfaces earlier in life. People with Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, begin to see symptoms between 6 months and 16 years of age.
RA is a disease caused by abnormalities in which system of the body?
RA is a disease of the immune system.
It may affect many different areas of the body, as well as the joints. For instance, it may cause fatigue and nausea, as well as joint pain and swelling.
RA always becomes worse over time.
RA varies from person to person. Sometimes it lasts a few months or a few years and then vanishes, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. In some people, the disease ebbs and flows, with periods of flare-ups and periods of remission. Other people develop severe RA, which lasts for many years and causes joint damage and disability.
If you have a family history of RA, you are more likely to develop it yourself.
Many genes play a role in causing RA, but genetics isn't the only factor, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Even when a person has the genes associated with RA, he or she may not develop the disease. Something in the environment, such as an infection, may trigger RA in a person who is susceptible to it.
Hormones also may be involved; RA often eases with pregnancy and flares up after delivery.
RA may be difficult to diagnose early because there is no definitive test for the disease.
RA symptoms are similar to those of other diseases and conditions, so it is often difficult to diagnose RA when the first symptoms appear, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. For this reason, communication between doctor and patient is essential for properly diagnosing the disease.
RA is more common in women than in men.
A study by the American College of Rheumatology has found that incidences of rheumatoid arthritis in women have increased greatly in recent years. This is after approximately forty years of declining rates. The epidemiologists with the Mayo Clinic who are tracking the numbers are still unsure about the cause of this rise in rheumatoid arthritis cases, but they suspect that environmental factors may be at work.