You may have seen dozens of commercials on television about rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, or RA as it is commonly referred to and yet what do you really know about the dangers? Though you probably realize that RA is a painful joint ailment, do you know there are some very serious rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systematic inflammatory disorder that is most commonly associated with twisted joints and pain. Symptoms usually develop over a period of time, weeks or even months and generally affect the joints. Painful swollen joints can be symptomatic of several different diseases, but with RA you will it is common for the swelling and tenderness to be symmetrical, in other words on both sides of the body. Women are three times more likely to suffer rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than men and about 1% of the world population is afflicted. RA is an autoimmune disorder, which basically means the body’s immune system is on the attack.
If you have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis you need to understand that this is a progressive disease and in time, it can affect more than just your joints. Inflammation can occur in tissue or organs and lead to severe or even dangerous complications. Here are a few commonly overlooked rheumatoid arthritis symptoms to watch for:
- Tingling and numbness- swelling in your connective tissue can result in pressure against nerve endings which causes a numb or tingling feeling. Have you noticed sudden weakness in your hands or feet? It could be RA at work and nerve damage is a distinct possibility. This occurs most commonly near the wrist and should be evaluated by your rheumatologist or physician as soon as possible.
- Breathing Issues- Remember that this type of arthritis is inflammation, which can affect the heart and lungs as well as your joints. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or feel “winded” more easily than normal you may be experiencing complications. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as these could point toward a coming heart attack or fluid build-up around the lungs.
- Fingertips- have you noticed some abnormal spots on your fingernail or fingertips? They may appear red or black in color and indicate that tissue in these areas has died due to inflamed blood vessels. It should be pointed out that this is a rare symptom, but when present indicates a widespread systemic inflammation. Left untreated you could lose a finger!
- Infection- you probably already know that a high temperature is indicative of an infection. However, were you aware that that your drugs for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms could be the root of the problem. Prescription drug treatments leave the body more vulnerable to a variety of infections. When you are being treated for RA, pay attention to what your body is telling you! Infections that the average person can fight off easily could be another matter for you. Watch for fever, (low or high grade), fatigue, depression, weight loss, night sweats and extremely inflamed “spots”.
- Bruising- Have you found yourself bruising more easily than normal? This is yet another indicator and or side effect of rheumatoid arthritis symptom treatments. The disease can affect your blood platelet count, resulting in quicker bruising. While you may not mind a few dark spots here and there, you should know you are also at higher risk for heavy bleeding.
- Bone Fractures- few people may think of bone fractures when they think of arthritis; however, RA can result in bone loss or mask the presence of osteoporosis. To make matters worse, taking common treatments such as prednisone exponentially increases your risk for fractures.
- Ulcers- not a direct result of RA but more a side effect of treatment. Many people take high doses of NSAIDs for pain relief, and they tend to work. Unfortunately, these drugs can take an awful toll on the lining of the stomach and digestive tract. When taking these types of medications make sure and report any stomach pain, blood in the stool or extremely dark bowel movements. NSAID’s can wreak havoc on the stomach causing bleeding and even a hole in the wall.
- Eyes- Have you attributed dry red eyes to lack of sleep? It could be another serious rheumatoid arthritis symptom. A little itching or dryness is probably nothing to worry about; however, a sudden pain deep in the eye itself accompanied by reddening could be a serious situation. Never hesitate to call your physician better to be a little over vigilant.
As you can see, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can go far beyond swollen angry joints, as can the complications. You may be tempted in the early stages of the disease to overlook seemingly innocuous symptoms or side effects, however when dealing with a serious autoimmune disorder like RA it is better to err on the side of caution. If you are recently diagnosed and experiencing any of these symptoms or you are, concerned you may be seeing, the first signs make an appointment with your physician. The above symptoms and side effects are far from an exhaustive list and only a physician can absolutely confirm your diagnosis and offer proper treatment. This is a serious disorder that can be managed effectively for many years, with the proper medical intervention.