Let’s switch gears from lupus and take a look at another autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis. In RA, the immune dysfunction is similar to lupus, in which the immune system attacks itself; but in RA, the cells of the immune system attack the joints and the synovium (the lining of tissue that surrounds the joints). RA, like lupus, is chronic, inflammatory, has flares and is a disease of remissions and exacerbations. Those of you with RA have experienced these 8 things that YOU can do to empower YOU in dealing with RA.
!. Become partners in your care with your rheumatologist. He/she is not just your doctor. Commit to this and learn as much as you can about RA. RA is your illness and the more you know about it, the more you’ll control it and the less it’ll control you.
2. teach your family, If they’re not taught by you, your family is not likely to understand the WHY behind the days you have no energy or are sore. They need to know that you can be these and not be lazy.
3. Find ways to maximize everyday functioning, using durable medical equipment or other aids to perform activities of daily living, such as dressing, using shoe horns, having a shower chair, seeing if a friend or neighbor could do marketing for you. Don’t hesitate to ask or advice in managing your illness.
4. Understand that RA is a systemic disease, that it can cause massive, body-wide (systemic) inflammation and is a risk-factor for heart disease.
5. do not delay treatment. The disease is chronic, though it can be gotten control of; but the sooner it is identified and treatment begun, the easier and effective, eventual treatment will be. Preventing further joint damage.
6. Stop smoking as it makes RA harder to treat. Your rheumatologist will work with you and direct you to smoking cessation programs if need be.
6. you’re a unique ‘case’. No one can say that their case is like yours. Your symptoms may be similar to someone else, but there is different immune functioning, and the same medications that work for you, may not work for someone else with RA.
7. Before you start a new medication, learn why your rheumatologist prescribed it, ask both your doctor and pharmacist about any interaction with another medication that you take. Not all side effects are noticeable by you; they are measurable only inlay tests.
8. acknowledge that not only a physical toll, but an emotional, a mental toll is exacted. Feelings of depression are not to be ashamed of, but can be treated with relaxation and visual imagery, or therapy and medications.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Fingers (Photo credit: david__jones)