The primary function of your immune system is to keep your body safe from anything that can cause harm, like infections from viruses and bacteria. Sometimes the immune system turns against itself, and instead of just watching out for and taking out harmful substances, it starts destroying itself, a condition known as autoimmunity. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (lifelong) disease involving the joints caused by the body’s autoimmunity. Medical professionals treat Tampa’s rheumatoid arthritis patients to help them regain control over their bodies so that they can freely move and enjoy doing the things they love.
However, this disease encompasses much more than the joints; it can involve other parts of the body such as skin, lungs, and eyes.
What Are the Symptoms an RA Patient May Experience?
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis typically start noticing symptoms that are very gradual in onset. Therefore, this disease does not have explosive signs where they instantly have multiple tender and swollen joints or cannot move. Most patients report feeling stiff after waking up. However, with activity and movement, the discomfort gets better.
When a patient has RA, mainly if untreated, they have ongoing inflammation in the body. It is essential to seek treatment because the disease can destroy and alter normal body function without it. A patient may experience:
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling directed in the joints.
- Fatigue, which is an overall presentation in patients with autoimmune diseases. Therefore, RA patients will feel unusually tired and will not do things they normally do on a typical day.
- Dryness of eyes. This symptom affects patients with RA in the optical region.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the lungs can present as:
- Chronic cough.
- Shortness of breath.
What Is the Proper Diet for RA Patients?
Diet is not the cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, diet is a vital part of overall health, whether you do or do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Do what is common sense in terms of what is a healthy diet. The ideal option is to consume lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Maintaining a balanced diet will provide you with various nutrients, from antioxidants to vital minerals and vitamins. Avoid processed foods that have a lot of empty calories. Instead of drinking a soda, take water, it is the best form of hydration.
What Medications Are Used to Treat RA?
Doctors try to use medications called disease-modifying drugs, which change the course of the disease, preventing erosions in the joints that might cause permanent damage.
A patient should therefore start on these key medications early in their treatment. Within this category of medications, there are two main subcategories:
- Conventional oral medication
Most people start with these drugs, which modulate the immune system so that it is not active to the point of damaging the joints, which can be a side effect.
- Biologic medications
This class is ever-expanding with new drugs coming into the market; for example, drugs block inhibitory proteins like TNF and are only available in injectable or infusion forms.
Osteoporosis and Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay is a leading provider of diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Schedule a consultation online to jumpstart your journey towards inflammation-free and unlimited movements.