Quit Smoking And Reduce Your Risks Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects your entire joints and bones, causing severe pain, disability and loss of function. For unknown reasons, your immune system begins to mistake your bones for a foreign invader, and raises a defense attack on your bones and joints. This condition affects about 2.5 million people in the United States alone, and strangely most of these people are women.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious condition and if left untreated, it can affect multiple organs of the body and permanently cause bone erosion and damage to cartilage.
Researchers have found that certain risk factors can make you more vulnerable to this autoimmune disease. Some of those risks are out of your control but there are some you can avoid with lifestyle changes.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis develops when your immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround your joints. This causes excess inflammation in the joints which can eventually break down the cartilage between the bones of the joints. When this prolongs, the joints gradually lose their natural shape and formation and the appearance of the affected joint become distorted. According to scientists and researchers, the following factors are all possible causes for developing this disease.
The Female Factor: Rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than men, and experts think that female hormones have something to do with the development of this disease.
The Smoking Factor: Scientist also found a connection between women who smoke and rheumatoid arthritis. According to their studies, the risk was highest for women who smoked the most cigarettes for several years. The studies confirmed that current and former female smokers had twice the risk of having rheumatoid arthritis as women who never smoked.
The Coffee Factor: Studies conducted in Finland suggested that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day more than doubled their risk of getting this disease. The research however concluded that more studies will have to be conducted on this factor whereby ways of preparing coffee will be taken into consideration.
>b>The Bacteria Factor: Researchers in Israel were reported to have found a bacterium called mycoplasma fermetans in the fluid surrounding the joints of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Because scientists knew that mycoplasmas could cause arthritis in animals, they began to take this finding serious. Researchers think mycoplasmas in the joint can start a chain reaction of inflammation and tissue damage.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Because of the damage this disease causes to your joints, performing daily activities may become almost impossible. Tasks begin to take more energy to accomplish at early stages of the disease, and as the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to cope with simple daily activities. The following are some commons symptoms of this debilitating disease.
*Stiff painful joints
*Loss of appetite
*Knobby, disfigured joints
Keys For Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Living day to day with this disease can be overwhelming and exhaustive. However, you can take creative steps to care for your body and ease the pain. The following measures can be used to help manage your symptoms.
The Key Of Spirituality: Researchers found during their study of rheumatoid arthritis patients that those who maintained daily spiritual experiences such as prayers, being moved by the beauty of creation, and tuning in to their spiritual sides were in better mood and had less joint pain. Using this key to open up your spirituality can profit your body along with your spirit.
The Key Of Exercise: The obvious thing you would likely do is veer away from exercise because you are in pain. On the surface, that may seem the sensible thing to do but the opposite is true. Experts say you should rather exercise to keep the pain at bay.
Studies were conducted where patients were put on an exercise program of muscle strengthening and bicycle conditioning three to five times a week. After 24 weeks of consistently performing these exercises, patients began functioning better physically and mentally. Simple exercises you can do are walking, swimming or gentle water aerobics. Be sure to consult with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
The Massage Key: Get a professional massage and enjoy a soothing rub to loosen tight muscles and help you relax. You can make this a treat and pamper yourself by visiting a day spa that offer massage services. Go on and try this, after all it’s your body we are talking and you deserve it! Your bones and muscles will be soothed by the time you leave.
The Heat Or Cold Keys: Use heat to help ease your pain and relax tense muscles. Taking a hot shower or bath is one of the effective ways to apply heat. You can also use an electric heating pad on very low setting. You may use cold packs to dull the sensation of pain but beware if you have poor circulation. Cold therapies may include cold packs or soaking the aching joints in cold water.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis With Herbs And Supplements
The use of herbal remedies is still controversial and on the table, but some herbs and natural remedies have been used for centuries with very good results. Some natural treatments that are proven to give relief for rheumatoid arthritis include:
Bromelain: This is an enzyme that occurs naturally in pineapple that reduces inflammation in the body. Some people get adverse reactions when they eat pineapple. They complain of itching in the throat. If you happen to be one of these people, or if you simply do not like pineapples, you can use bromelain extract capsules sold at health food stores. The recommended dosage is 400 to 600 mg. taken three times a day.
Boswellia: Also known as frankincense, this herb has been used in India as a traditional remedy for rheumatic inflammation for years. It can slow down inflammation and increase blood supply to your joints. The recommendation dosage is 150 mg. of the extract taken three times daily.
Plant Oils: Studies have shown that oils from certain plants can improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation. The following are all plant oils that can help reduce inflammation - the root cause of all pain.
*Evening primrose oil
*Pumpkin Seed Oil
Vitamins: Vitamins D has been proven to build muscular strength, and reduce chronic pain. A study showed that people with lowest blood levels of vitamin D have triple the incidence of arthritis. Recommended dosage is 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant capable of defending your body against destructive free radicals that can weaken your immune system. This finding is based on a research performed on rheumatoid arthritis patients. Increased free radicals were found to be at work for patients who’s vitamin E levels were low than other patients whose vitamin E levels were normal. Increasing your vitamin E intake can help prevent tissue damage caused by this debilitating disease.
Food sources of this powerful antioxidant are wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, brown rice, safflower oils and dry roasted peanuts.
Directives From American College of Rheumatology
The American College of Rheumatology issued guidelines in 2008 recommending the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with an immune suppressing drug called methotrexate, with brand the names Trexall and Rheumatrex.
They also recommended the use anti-TNF drugs such as Enbrel and Humira to stop the activity of the immune factor called TNF that causes inflammation.
The use of these mainstream medicines can be considered if you have severe active rheumatoid arthritis that cannot be treated with other remedies. You must also take note that there are serious adverse effects regarding the use of these drugs.
Some side effects of methotrexate are decrease in the number of blood cells, liver damage with prolonged use, lung damage, risk of developing lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects your immune cells. In severe adverse conditions, this drug may even cause death.
Humira, the TNF-blocker drug can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. People taking Humira can develop tuberculosis (TB) infections caused by viruses and bacteria, nervous system problems such as numbness or tingling, vision problems, weakness in your limbs, and dizziness. Other side effects include allergic reactions such as skin rash, a swollen face, or trouble breathing.
Armed with all this information, it will be wise to find out more about these drugs and weigh the pros and cons before deciding on their use. After all, you are the best keeper of your own health and life so make an informed decision of how to manage or treat this debilitating disease.
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