Having rheumatoid arthritis means sticking to certain lifestyle practices. Rheumatoid arthritis happens due to large-scale inflammation in the body, which typically affects the joints. The condition causes immobility and severe pain as the inflamed joints makes it painful to move. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects people whose physical strength and function are considered to be waning, particularly those in their late 30s to 50s.
Although not communicable or acquired through external means, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that is considered as particularly nasty. It causes almost constant pain with many symptoms, which progress over time. There is no existing treatment to completely cure rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications work well to reduce inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. However, lifestyle changes are the only way to maintain proper function and muscle strength. In addition, it also helps slow down the onset of disease complications.
It should be noted that certain lifestyle factors can trigger rheumatic arthritis. Some of these factors include:
- Smoking – Smokers face a significantly increased risk of having rheumatic arthritis later in life compared to non-smokers.
- Poor dental hygiene – Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with periodontal disease or infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease is often the consequence of poor dental hygiene practices, such as not regularly brushing or flossing the teeth.
- Obesity – Recent research shows that too much body weight increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Obese individuals often have low exercise levels and low lean body mass, which are risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Having type 1 and type 2 diabetes – Although both are very different conditions, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are both autoimmune diseases caused by a faulty immune system function. Diabetes also has the inflammation factor.
- Having certain occupations – Exposure to certain chemicals, notably asbestos and silica, are associated with a lifetime risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Exposure from these chemicals due to certain occupations or by living in a contaminated environment such as living near a dumpsite or factory are notable risks.
Lifestyle changes are important in rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Although there are lots of medications that can help patients accomplish their daily activities, changing their lifestyle reduces the symptoms and slows down the damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not a slow or benign condition. It can rapidly progress, especially if the patient does not strictly follow the doctor’s instructions. The condition is also irreversible, so picking wrong lifestyle choices can have lifelong consequences. Here are the worst things you can do if you have rheumatoid arthritis:
If you are a smoker and have rheumatoid arthritis, you better quit smoking right away. Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for the condition, and not quitting often worsens the symptoms. In addition, cigarette use causes poorer response to medicines. The chemicals present in cigarettes can also cause problems in the functioning of the immune system.
Quitting cigarette smoking is a very difficult thing to smokers, even to those diagnosed with conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. Patients can ask their doctors to help them quit. If you are quite hooked on cigarette smoking but wants to quit, try staying away from places or situations that induce you to light up. Note that quitting also reduces the chances of developing heart diseases, which are a complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
Exercise is an ordeal because of painful and inflamed joints, especially during flares. Pain is caused by widespread inflammation, which is the same thing when you have a very red and painful zit. Since the joints themselves are inflamed, movement becomes painful, which dissuades the patient to exercise. In worse cases, the bones at the end of the joints become affected, which results in more discomfort and immobility.
It is easy for most patients not to exercise. A busy lifestyle and experiencing pain are quite good excuses. However, not exercising can have life-changing implications on health. Exercise causes the limbs to warm up and preserve their remaining function. It also prevents muscle wasting that worsens prognosis.
No matter how painful it is, patients with rheumatoid arthritis should spend time exercising, preferably on a daily basis. Running, jogging, bicycling, lifting weights, or doing resistance exercises are some of the highly recommended exercises for rheumatoid arthritis. Most patients are surprised to realize that exercise is much less painful than they thought. In addition, exercise may help delay the onset of flares and reduce their duration.
Drinking too much alcohol is bad for rheumatoid arthritis, so you have to say "no" to the old life of drinking sprees and barhopping. Alcohol in itself has nothing to do with the disease. However, many medicines interact with alcohol, including those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis such as painkillers ibuprofen and naproxen. Both medications are more likely to cause stomach bleeding if you take them with alcohol. You can be sure by asking your doctor about the possible side effects of alcohol intake to rheumatoid arthritis treatment. If you are an alcoholic and can't find a way to reduce your alcohol intake, talk to your doctor right away.
There are studies suggesting that small to moderate intake of alcohol can be protective. However, alcohol has no benefits to those who already have rheumatoid arthritis. A glass of wine, or a standard drink of hard drinks such as whiskey and gin a day is acceptable, but more than two is considered too much.
Not having enough rest can worsen rheumatoid arthritis. Overwork causes increased stress levels, and more stress means higher inflammation levels. Inadequate rest or sleep deprivation may increase the condition's frequency with worse flares.
The solution is simple in this one. Try to achieve good sleep. If you are busy at work, give yourself around two breaks in an eight-hour shift to allow your stress levels to go down. Do not wait until you experience flares.
Not having yearly vaccinations
Some patients have this thinking that having rheumatoid arthritis means that vaccines are less effective or could be harmful, while others embrace anti-vaccine tenets and claim that vaccines cause the condition. Note that if you have rheumatoid arthritis, the only vaccines you must avoid are the live ones such as measles, oral polio vaccine, and tuberculosis vaccines.
Not having vaccinations can worsen your health, and skipping them is one of the worst things you can do when you have rheumatoid arthritis. Understand that rheumatoid arthritis causes your immune system to be less effective in batting foreign invaders, so patients are at risk of having serious infections. Having vaccines for conditions such as yearly flu, pneumococcal infections, hepatitis B and C, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, and other inactivated vaccines can save you from a lot of diseases and infections.
Not learning more about rheumatoid arthritis
Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis simply choose not to learn anything about their condition because of the perceived sense of seriousness of the disease as well as its implications in life. It is true that rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition, but it can be managed to the point that patients are still able to do everyday activities.
It is always worth it to read more about the rheumatoid arthritis and hear from others. You should be familiar about new treatments and tips from others as well. There are worthwhile advances in the field of managing immune diseases. Make it a part of your daily habit to learn more about lifestyle and treatment news for rheumatoid arthritis.