People recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis might be wondering what’s really in store for their future. Most people think of older people when they think of arthritis. But RA can strike at any age. And on top of that, rheumatoid arthritis goes beyond just joint pain and stiffness.
The disease can also affect internal organs and can put people at risk for very serious diseases that can impact mortality.
Besides just attacking the joints and causing pain, rheumatoid can also be associated with severe tiredness and skin rashes. Furthermore, the strong drugs that are often needed to help suppress the overactive immune system can put someone at risk for getting dangerous such as permanent fibrosis of the lungs. These types of complications can even shorten someone's lifespan significantly.
If you've just been told that you have rheumatoid arthritis, you need to know what you're up against.
So you've just recently discovered that you suffer from this chronic condition. You might be going through a whole slew of different emotions that you don't know how to deal with. That's totally okay. You will soon understand what you need to know to optimize your health. First, make sure that you find a rheumatologist who you trust and can help guide you through your medical-related decisions.
Some days you'll never want to get out of your bed
At first, you may find yourself feeling extremely tired, all the time. And when we say all the time, we really mean it. It feels like you can never get enough sleep, and even when you have it's hard to find the energy to be as active as you remember being once upon a time. You're also going to feel really stiff, especially when you wake up first thing in the morning. The combination of fatigue and stiffness isn't helpful to motivate you to start your day. It can get tough sometimes but know what to expect and realize that it's okay that you feel this way. Many others suffering from RA understand how you feel.
Rheumatoid arthritis will never fail to surprise you
There will be times when you will be in a lot of pain, and sometimes, the pain might not feel like it will end. Unfortunately, you're never going to feel prepared for what's in store. One afternoon, you might feel okay, and suddenly, you'll feel like you got hit by a truck by the evening. Symptoms can vary from day to day, and even as quickly as by the hour. One day you can run a marathon, while the next you might not even be able to get out of bed.
Family planning with rheumatoid arthritis comes with its own challenges
If you're a woman with rheumatoid arthritis, you may be wondering what it's like to be pregnant with a chronic, autoimmune condition. Though people who have rheumatoid can be very successful in starting their own families, it does come with its own set of unique challenges. Surprisingly, being pregnant can actually improve your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. It appears that 70% of women with the condition feel better by the time they are in their second trimester of pregnancy.
Is it safe to have children when you have rheumatoid arthritis?
The challenge with getting pregnant with rheumatoid actually is in the question of whether or not you can tolerate getting off some of the medications you may be taking. Common drugs used for rheumatoid can be toxic for a growing fetus, resulting in dangerous congenital abnormalities we want to avoid. It can get difficult for someone living with rheumatoid to try and get pregnant if they flare up severely anytime they try to discontinue their medications. Your rheumatologist and obstetrician can work together with you to try and develop a family plan.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make you feel alone
Having rheumatoid arthritis can sometimes feel socially isolating. Especially if no one you know well has the disease, it's easy to feel like you're battling against all odds alone. On top of that, it's hard to get out of bed sometimes to go to social engagements. You worry that friends and family who don't understand what it's like won't forgive you for missing important birthdays or dance recitals. One study found that more than a third of rheumatoid arthritis patients said that they felt lonely.
Aside from friends and family, rheumatoid can have an impact on intimate relationships too. Some days, your hands might hurt so much you can't even hold the hand of your spouse or your child. If you're single and dating new people, it can be intimidating to share your life with someone who may not understand what it's like to live with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis.
Some days, it may feel like you've lost all control of over your health
Some days, you may feel like all hope is lost. Pain flares up out of nowhere, and suddenly you feel like your life is spiraling out of control. Medications that used to work don't even touch the pain you're feeling. It can get overwhelming especially when you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Besides the symptoms we know of that are caused by rheumatoid, did you know that the disease can increase your risk of other health problems too? Having rheumatoid arthritis can double your risk of having serious cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke. This is because rheumatoid arthritis is based on a disease state of chronic inflammation gone haywire. This same inflammation is really bad for the cardiovascular system, and can also lead to other inflammatory conditions and lung diseases. Turns out that having rheumatoid arthritis means you are 8 times more likely of developing a lung disease too.
Despite the pain that rheumatoid arthritis can put you through, it can help you learn how to have a positive outlook and strong willpower
Despite the seriousness of the disease, rheumatoid can make you strong than ever before. Though rheumatoid can cause a lot of pain and suffering, a positive outlook can go a long way to help you overcome your lifelong illness. You can live a wonderful life despite having rheumatoid arthritis, and enduring something like this will also teach you a lot about yourself too. A key factor contributing to the happiness of rheumatoid patients is an early diagnosis. The earlier you start treatments for RA, the better the overall outcomes. People with early diagnoses often need less intense treatments, and most people are able to maintain physically active lives despite chronic illness.