Rheumatoid Arthritis Also Damages Your Lungs

Rheumatoid arthritis is a well-known disease for causing damage to joints, however the disease can also affect your lungs. It can cause damage to the tissue around the joints as well as your eyes, heart and lungs.
lungs
“We call it rheumatoid arthritis, but we should really call it rheumatoid disease,” says Elinor Mody, MD, director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Women’s Orthopaedic and Joint Disease Centre in Boston. Besides the joints, the “heart and lungs are the most commonly affected,” Mody says. Doctors aren’t sure how or why rheumatoid arthritis causes other organs to suffer, but lung complications of rheumatoid arthritis can be serious and even cause death.
Interstitial Lung Disease
Rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease, or RA-ILD, is the most serious lung complication for people with rheumatoid arthritis. This illness can be hard to detect, but occurs when lung tissue becomes inflamed and eventually scarred.
* Smoking increases the risk of developing it but non-smokers do develop RA-ILD.
* It causes breathlessness and a dry cough, but in many cases it is symptomless making it difficult to be able to detect it early enough to try and treat it.
* There are trials going on at the moment trialling new drugs to try and treat it but nothing has been very successful so far making the disease difficult to treat, other than treating the symptoms.
Pulmonary Fibrosis
The inflammation and scarring caused by RA-ILD can lead to pulmonary fibrosis and permanent scarring of the lung tissues. The air sacs are gradually replaced by scar tissue reducing the respiratory capability of the lungs and resulting in shortness of breath.
* Supplemental oxygen can be used to help make breathing easier but it cannot reverse the dame done by pulmonary fibrosis.
* Methotrexate is a drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, however this drug also causes pulmonary fibrosis. If you are on this drug then your
respiratory status needs to be carefully monitored.
Nodules
Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause nodules to form in the throat and on the vocal cords, causing complications like hoarseness and other changes. Nodules can develop in the lungs as well, but usually don’t cause symptoms and patients may never notice them.
Prevention of Respiratory Issues
Because of the high risk of complications due to rheumatoid arthritis-associated lung disease and the fact that there is little treatment available, prevention is key. To help reduce your risk:
* Don’t smoke. If you do, ask your doctor for suggestions about how to quit smoking immediately. Chemicals found in cigarettes can irritate already delicate lung tissue, leading to further complications.
* Have regular check-ups. Your doctor should listen to your lungs and monitor your breathing at each visit as lung problems that are detected early can be easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about any shortness of breath you’re experiencing and ask about changing medications or starting supplemental oxygen therapy to help ease symptoms.
References: http://www.everydayhealth.com

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a debilitating disease where there is progressive scarring of the lung tissue and interferes with the person’s ability to breathe. It was only recognised as a disorder in its own terms in 2001 and before that was grouped under other similar lung disorders and was referred to as other disease titles.
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It can in some cases be linked to a specific cause such as environmental exposures, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, residual infection or due to an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. However in cases where the cause is unknown it is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
While the cause of PF remains a mystery it is suspected that PF involves changes in the lung’s normal healing process. Patients may have an exaggerated or uncontrolled healing response that, over time, produces excessive fibrous scar tissue – or fibrosis – in the lungs. This scarring, in turn, causes the lung’s alveoli to thicken and stiffen-rendering them less able to function and provide the body with the oxygen it needs.
Exactly what sets this abnormal tissue-repair process in motion is unclear. The body’s own immune response may play a major role. Researchers are investigating a number of potential risk factors that may make a person more likely to develop Pulmonary Fibrosis.
These risks may include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Occupational exposure to dusty environments (e.g. wood or metal dust)
  • Genetic predisposition (10-15 percent of cases)
  • Viral or bacterial lung infections
  • Acid reflux disease

Pulmonary Fibrosis hinders a person’s ability to take in oxygen. It causes shortness of breath and is usually associated with a persistent dry cough. The disease progresses over time, leading to an increase in lung scarring and a worsening of symptoms. Unfortunately, Pulmonary Fibrosis is ultimately disabling and fatal.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis usually have a gradual onset and may include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially after exertion
  • Dry cough
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Clubbing (enlargement of the ends of the fingers or toes) due to a build-up of tissue

 
PF affects each person differently and progresses at varying rates. Generally, the patient’s respiratory symptoms become worse over time and activities (such as walking or climbing stairs) become more difficult.
In addition:

  • The patient may require supplemental oxygen
  • Advanced PF makes it difficult for a person to fight infection
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis puts a strain on the heart and on the blood vessels in the lungs, and may lead to high blood pressure in the lungs
  • PF has also been associated with heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), lung infections, and lung cancer.

 
An important part of the treatment is the use of supplemental oxygen to provide your body with the required level of oxygen it needs but cannot get due to the scarring in the lungs.
Supplemental oxygen can:

  • Decrease your shortness of breath
  • Improve your ability to carry out daily tasks
  • Improve your overall level of fitness
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Increase life span by decreasing the extra work your heart is doing because of low oxygen saturation levels

 
PF patients should also discuss the possibility of a lung transplant with their GP as soon as possible as unfortunately 30% PF patients succumb to their disease while waiting on the transplant list. This is due to the unpredictable progressive nature of the disease in combination with long transplant waiting lists.
There are new treatments being currently tested, which look promising at reducing symptom severity and aiding in decreasing the progression of the disease and ultimately aiding in improving life expectancy.
 
References: http://www.coalitionforpf.org and http://www.breathingmatters.co.uk

Let’s Talk About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a debilitating disease, marked by progressive scarring of the lungs, that increasingly hinders a person’s ability to breathe.
Ipf_NIH
Sometimes pulmonary fibrosis can be linked to a particular cause, such as environmental exposure, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, infection, or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. However sometimes there is no known cause and is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF.
The cause of Pulmonary Fibrosis still remains a mystery, but it is seems to involve changes in the lung’s normal healing processes. Patients may have an exaggerated or uncontrolled healing response that over time produces excessive fibrous scar tissue, or fibrosis, in the lungs. This scarring causes the lung’s tiny alveoli to thicken and harden, rendering them less able to function and provide the body with the oxygen it needs.
There are a few risk factors that may alter the lung’s healing process and cause scarring. These may include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Occupational exposure to dusty environments (e.g. wood or metal dust)
  • Genetic predisposition (10-15 percent of cases)
  • Viral or bacterial lung infections
  • Acid reflux disease

Pulmonary Fibrosis hinders a person’s ability to take in oxygen. It causes shortness of breath and is usually associated with a persistent dry cough. The disease progresses over time, leading to an increase in lung scarring and a worsening of symptoms. Unfortunately, Pulmonary Fibrosis is ultimately disabling and fatal.
If you have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, there are a number of things you can do to take part in your own treatment and help yourself stay healthy.
 

  • Get your flu vaccine every year.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Consult your doctor about enrolling in a pulmonary rehabilitation or respiratory therapy program to help increase your strength, learn breathing techniques, and expand your social support network. Many patients report improved breathing and quality of life after adding education and exercise to their treatment.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain in ideal body weight. This helps support your body and keeps up your strength.
  • Consider eating smaller, more frequent meals during the course of your day. Many patients find it easier to breathe when their stomach isn’t completely full.

When Pulmonary Fibrosis progresses to a point where your blood-oxygen levels are low, another important tool that can help sufferers is supplemental oxygen therapy. Oxygen can be prescribed by your doctor or via a local oxygen supply company. It contains a higher percentage of oxygen and helps increase the amount of oxygen that is available to be transferred from your lungs into the bloodstream, thereby producing more energy to be used by the cells of your body.
Supplemental oxygen can:

  • Decrease your shortness of breath – especially with exercise
  • Improve your ability to perform daily activities
  • Improve your overall level of fitness
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Increase life span by decreasing the extra work your heart is doing because of low oxygen saturation levels

And in case you need medical oxygen at any destination worldwide please contact us on [email protected] and we will try to meet your specific requirements.