In the short time humans have on Earth, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s important. Everyone wants to live their lives to the full and celebrate what they’ve been given, there’s no doubt about that. But sometimes the universe doesn’t have a fairytale life on the cards and unfortunately, everyone can’t live in a Disney film (as much as some would like to). When you live with a condition that causes you constant pain and stress, it’s imperative to seek treatment from a medical expert, in order to make every day just a little bit easier for you.

Most people will have heard of the autoimmune condition called Arthritis. But you may not know that there is more than one type out there. There are more than 100 forms documented, including Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. All of which have different symptoms and will need to be treated accordingly.

Millions of people around the world have Arthritis in one of its many forms.

One of the most common types, Rheumatoid Arthritis is often thought to affect those aged 40 and over who live a very unhealthy lifestyle. Of course, by monitoring your weight, the amount of exercise you do and your stress levels, living with the condition will become more manageable. Certain foods, such as spinach, salmon, olive oil and blueberries are also anti-inflammatory, therefore will help with the swelling.

However, lifestyle isn’t the only cause. To help with learning more about the condition and breaking it down into easier to understand chunks, here are five key facts:

What medications can help with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Ok, so there are plenty of medications on offer to help with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). The main types of medication on offer for RA are Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium), which are used to help reduce swelling, steroids that can help with easing the pain and the inflammation and DMARDS (Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs, such as Leflunomide) that helps prevent permanent damage and rubbing of the joints.

However, if a patient is overweight, the RA drugs can be less effective. They can also carry side effects, so make sure you are aware of these before taking them. With the help of an expert Rheumatologist, you will know what medication is right for you and how to deal with the condition.

The use of technology can also assist in Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment, setting out health goals and routines for taking your medication in an easy to follow health plan (examples of apps that can help with this are PainScale and MyRAteam).

Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect those of all ages

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory, chronic disease that mainly affects your joints most commonly your hands, knees, fingers and feet. Although people think it is something you contract later in life, more and more adolescents are seeing the early signs, and it’s something to check with your doctor about if you’re unsure. Even though it can be scary, don’t suffer in silence.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis carries the same symptoms as Rheumatoid Arthritis – fever, fatigue, stiffness and inflammation of the joints, but it can affect those as young as 16 years old. It’s often easy to think that the tiredness may be due to stress because of deadlines at college or work, but if it’s constant, it may be worth investigating it.

Your body is supposed to be able to repair itself, but sometimes your immune system works against you. Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the immune system targets the lining of the joints (otherwise known as the synovial lining) and is a progressive condition that must be treated accordingly. To ensure that the condition is controlled, it’s important to stay active, by perhaps going on leisurely walks and sticking to a healthy diet.

How do you develop Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Unfortunately, RA can occur due to a number of factors. For example, It can be hereditary. You are also more likely to develop it if you smoke or you are overweight (leading causes in a number of conditions). And this can cause the condition to progress, due to fat causing inflammation. Surprisingly, women are also more likely to get RA due to elements such as hormones.

Also, it is believed that the environment could also have an impact – if you are in contact with silicate materials for example (such as asbestos), the risk of developing it increases enormously. Even though some of these risk factors may seem obvious, others may come as a surprise – so it’s always important to remember that it’s something that can affect anyone and something that can start developing at any time.

Is there a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Unfortunately, as of 2019, doctors are yet to find a cure for the condition. The speculation of what the exact causes of RA are undeniably played a part in this. Until doctors find a definitive answer to this, a treatment plan for how to deal with the condition is the best way to control it. This can be done by ensuring you are monitoring your diet and frequently exercising.

Does Rheumatoid Arthritis affect your life-span?

Even though RA is a progressive condition and pain can be eased with the help of invasive surgery or medication, unfortunately, life-expectancy for the disease can decrease due to a number of reasons. If it is a particularly aggressive form, it can result in increasing your chance of getting certain forms of blood cancer (such as lymphoma), blocked heart arteries, strokes and respiratory issues. Less aggressive forms can also cause coronary problems. The mortality rate of patients with RA, however, is still under discussion with doctors, who are constantly tying the condition to issues that are mentioned above.

Living with a condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis will always be a struggle no matter what stage of life you are in. It’s clear that with the help of a health plan, and ensuring that you are not overweight, the condition can be managed.

With the modern world, it’s easy to self-diagnose by using the internet (which never is a good idea let’s be honest). But if you are uncertain as to whether you have RA or a similar type of Arthritis/condition, there’s no harm in asking your doctor for advice. It’s better to know early so that you can treat the symptoms and start alleviating the pain as soon as possible as a life lived in pain is not a life well lived.