Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation. Not only can it affect joints throughout the body, but it can also affect systems within the body, including the lungs, skin, heart, blood vessels, and eyes. When a person has RA, the disease attacks the protective linings in the joints, eventually causing bone tissue to wear away and resulting in the joints becoming deformed.
Risk Factors and Causes of RA
No one knows what causes RA to start, but doctors do know that it happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, which is the lining of the protective tissue around joints. The disease causes the connective tissues that hold the joints in place to stretch, which allows joints to move out of place, causing them to be misshapen.
Although doctors don’t know the cause of RA, they do know that there are some risk factors that increase the chances of a person getting RA. Some of those risk factors are:
Gender: Women get RA more often to men.
Age: RA can happen at any age, but it usually starts during middle age.
Family History: Having a family member with RA increases the risk.
Smoking: Smoking increases the chances of getting RA and can make the disease worse.
Exposure to Toxins: Being exposed to asbestos or silica increases the risk. People who were emergency workers at the World Trade Center are also at higher risk because of exposure to the dust.
Obesity: Carrying extra pounds seems to slightly raise the chances of getting RA.
The symptoms of RA can be different from person to person. However, some common symptoms of the disease are:
Fatigue: Fatigue is a feeling of extreme tiredness. It often starts weeks or months before other RA symptoms start.
Stiff Joints: Stiffness often starts in the small joints, like in the hands. People with RA also experience stiff joints in the morning or after sitting for a long time.
Painful and Swollen Joints: Joints may be painful and tender. They may also be swollen and feel warm.
Numbness or Tingling: Swelling in the connective tissues can make them press on nerves.
If your aging relative has RA, senior care can help them to accomplish tasks that may be difficult because of painful or deformed joints. Senior care providers can assist with bathing, grooming, and dressing. Senior care providers can also drive the older adult places when driving becomes difficult or unsafe because of loss of range of motion. In addition, a senior care provider can remind your loved one when it is time for them to take medications, which can help them to better manage RA symptoms.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Home Care in Elizabeth, NJ, call the caring staff at Helping Hands Home Care today at 908-418-4299. Providing Home Care Services in all of Northern and Central NJ, including Clark, Westfield, Cranford, Scotch Plains, Rahway, Linden, Summit, Edison, Elizabeth, Mountainside and the surrounding areas.