Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system of the body attacks the healthy joints instead of attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses.
This results in inflammation and pain in the joints and thickening of the tissues that line the inside of the joints.
It is very important to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis at an earlier stage because the thickened tissues can lead to the destruction of bones and cartilage. It can also cause the ligaments and joints to become weak which can make it difficult for a person to perform simple daily activities.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs mostly in hands and wrists but can also have an effect on other parts of the body. It can decrease the number of red blood cells (anaemia), cause inflammation around the lungs, and around the heart.
It is a symmetrical disease; this means that if one wrist is affected, then the other one will also be affected.
This disease usually begins in the middle age and is more prevalent in older people. However women are most affected by this disease than men are. It is very common among older people in America.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by a single factor. It develops because of interaction of many factors like genetic and environmental factors. Considering this disease is more common among women than men, it can be caused because of hormonal changes during or after pregnancy, during breastfeeding, and by repetitive use of contraceptives.
The common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Along with these, some people may also get tired very easily, experience a loss in appetite, and have fever. Inflammation, dryness, and redness can also occur in eyes, mouth, skin, lungs, blood vessels, and blood.
Apart from having detrimental effects on physical health, it can also have an effect on mental health. Some people undergo depression, anxiety, feeling of helplessness and a loss in self-confidence.