Rheumatoid arthritis is a health condition that affects the joints in your body. It is an autoimmune disease, and you will have good days and bad days. Symptoms include pain and inflammation, which can make it difficult to move around. If you know what causes RA, you can better treat and understand the illness. Talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is Caused by the Immune System
Because RA is an autoimmune condition, it occurs when your immune system attacks the lining around your joints. When that happens, the area becomes inflamed, which gradually wears away the cartilage and bone in your joints. This causes the joints to loosen, which can lead to significant pain and discomfort. There is no cure for the illness, but it can be treated if you see your doctor on a regular basis.
Gender Plays a Role
Research shows that women are more likely to suffer from RA than men. Doctors are not sure why this is the case, but if you are a woman, it pays to consider your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Ask your doctor to evaluate for symptoms of RA if you are over 40 and are experiencing any kind of joint pain.
Age is a Factor
RA is more common in elderly people and most often appears between the ages of 40 and 60. However, it can strike at any age, so younger people are also at risk. If you notice any joint pain, see your doctor for an evaluation. As you get older, your physician will be watching for symptoms that indicate arthritis.
Genetics are Involved
If you have a family history of RA, your risk goes up. For example, if your parent has the disease, your risk of getting it is higher than the average person. If you have RA in your family, be sure to let your doctor know so he can watch for symptoms in your joints. Ask your family about their history of RA so you have a clearer picture of what to expect.
Smoking is a Cause
Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing RA at any age. The risk is even higher if you also have a family history of the illness. Other environmental toxins may also contribute to your risk, including chemicals like asbestos. If you work in a job that leads to such exposure, be sure you are taking every precaution to protect yourself when you're on the job.
Being overweight also increases the risk of RA. Being overweight places extra pressure on your joints, which can lead to the illness. Even young people who are obese increase their risk, so it pays to consider losing some weight to cut your risk. Your doctor can help you determine how much you should lose.