Rheumatoid Arthritis Pulmonary Complications

Written by marcia frost Google
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Rheumatoid arthritis is mostly known for the pain and damage it causes to the joints, but it is an autoimmune disease that can cause problems in all the organs of the body. Pulmonary complications are not uncommon for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and they can be quite serious if not treated promptly.


Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of inflammation in the lining of tissues throughout the body. It is inflammation in the lungs and the lining of the lungs that brings scarring and even rheumatoid nodules, any of which can causes pulmonary complications. Like other problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis, lung problems can flare up (get worse) or decrease (go into remission) at any time, often without warning.


The first symptom that there may be pulmonary complications from rheumatoid arthritis may simply be pain from breathing. This pain in the chest may be more severe when breathing deeply. Other signs of lung problems from rheumatoid arthritis include coughing and shortness of breath. If the swelling in the lungs becomes severe, breathing becomes more difficult.


Pleuritis, also known as Pleurisy, refers to an inflammation in the two linings around the lungs (pleura). The visceral pleura covers the lung and the parietal pleura covers the chests inner wall. Either of these linings can become inflamed and cause pain and difficulty breathing. This condition can be caused by a number of things (infection, cancer), but has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis.


Treatment for pulmonary complications in rheumatoid arthritis will depend on the direct cause. Analgesics and anti-inflammatories can reduce the pain. Splinting of the chest is sometimes done for pleurisy. If there is fluid in the cavity of the chest it may need to be removed to relieve shortness of breath. While these treatments usually help lung problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis, if breathing becomes more difficult at any time, go to a nearby hospital or call 911.


Keeping the rheumatoid arthritis under control can help keep pulmonary complications under control. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medication and corticosteroids are used to treat the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti-rheumatic Drugs) and Biologic Response Modifiers not only help with pain and inflammation of the disease, but the can also slow its progression.

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