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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Facts, Risk And Treatments

Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a prevailing autoimmune disease that affects more than 20 million Americans each year.  It tends to be bilateral and asymmetrical, which means it appears on both sides of your body. It is a chronic inflammatory polyarthritis condition, which means it upsets multiple (five or more) joints in the body and is often linked to joint deformities, especially in the hand and fingers.

Normal Hand and Hand with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Image Source - webmd.com

RA can be very serious, causing premature disability, compromised quality of life, and sometimes even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 1997, rheumatoid arthritis accounted for 22 percent of all deaths due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.

Unlike arthritis that is brought by old age, rheumatoid arthritis can affect you at any age, including young children. In fact, a 2007 CDC study estimates that among 294,000 children with arthritis or other rheumatic condition, there were at least 16,000 classified as rheumatoid arthritis and other polyarthropathies. Fortunately, cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are still relatively rare today.
Early diagnosis can prevent further damage from RA, but this is sometimes challenging because early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are very non-specific. These include:
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Muscle soreness
  • Low-grade fever
  • Weight loss

Are You At Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

What causes rheumatoid arthritis is still a mystery. However, many experts suggest that it could be a combination of genetics and exposure to specific environmental factors.
  • Gender – Typically, women are two to three times more predisposed to developing rheumatoid arthritis than men. Breast feeding, oral contraceptive, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), live birth history, and menstrual history are suspected to be contributing factors as to why women are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Age – While it is true that rheumatoid arthritis can hit you at any age, the onset of the disease begins between ages 30 and 50 and is at peak at 60 years of age in both men and women. 
  • Smokers – Among a list of possible risk factors, smoking has the strongest and the most consistent link to rheumatoid arthritis. Studies suggest that a history of smoking is connected with a modest to moderate (1.3 to 2.4 times) increased risk of RA onset.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Conventional Versus Natural Approaches:
Since symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually involve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, conventional anti-inflammatory approaches such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics are used by most physicians.

However, while these can relieve pain – and there’s a lot to be said for pain relief – it’s very important to understand that chronic use of these types of medications are associated with significant and very serious side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage. In the U.S., overuse of analgesics is a very common source of kidney failure.

NSAIDs also kill some 30,000 people every year due to bleeding ulcers, and the oral drugs have been linked to a host of problems, including heart failure. Vioxx and Celebrex make prime examples of these very real dangers. This is not to say that they are not useful agents in some cases; however, you need to use them very, very cautiously.

With respect to rheumatoid arthritis treatment – or any other disease – opting for natural approaches is still the best way to go.  The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center has a wholearticle on this, titled “Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis ,”where there are several helpful alternative remedies that may be of significant benefit to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Some examples are acupuncture, hydrotherapy, tai chi, and yoga.

Here are crucial lifestyle changes (Prevention) to achieve success against RA:
  • Eliminate sugar, especially fructose, and most grains. For most people, it would be best to limit fruit to small quantities.
  • Eat unprocessed, high-quality foods, organic and locally grown if possible.
  • Eat your food as close to raw as possible.
  • Get plenty high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats. Krill oil seems to be particularly helpful, as it appears to be a more effective anti-inflammatory preparation. It is particularly effective if taken concurrently with 4 milligrams of astaxanthin, which is a potent antioxidant bioflavanoid derived from algae.
  • Incorporate regular exercise into your daily schedule.
Arriene Hernandez is an avid reader of Mercola.com and Dr. Joseph Mercola’s daily newsletter.

Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 11:21 PM

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