Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints.
If left untreated RA can cause irreversible joint damage. It is one of many different types of arthritis, and fortunately one for which treatment is available. RA is considered an autoimmune disease; this occurs when the body’s infection-fighting system, called the immune system, inappropriately “attacks” and damages the joints. RA tends to begin slowly with minor symptoms that come and go, usually on both sides of the body, and progress over a period of weeks. It typically affects the joints in hands and feet, but may also affect other joints in your body. In addition to joint problems, RA can affect other body systems such as the heart, lungs, eyes or skin. Symptoms of this chronic disease vary from person to person and can change from day to day.
- an autoimmune disease that is chronic, progressive and disabling
- a systemic illness that can affect body systems other than the joints, including the heart, lungs and skin
- three times more common in women than in men
- a disease that affects 1% to 2% of the world’s population
- four times more common in smokers than non-smokers
What are the warning signs of RA?
- Warm, swollen and tender joints
- Daily joint stiffness in the morning
- Fatigue, fever and weight loss
- Symmetric symptoms i.e. present on both sides of the body