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Aside from joint pain, there are a handful of unusual symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Below, we specifically point out 7 unusual symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis that you may not be aware of.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an auto immune disease wherein your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing painful swelling in parts of your body.
RA symptoms commonly affects the feet, wrists, and hands.
People suffering from RA experience flare ups on the joints.
What is usually kept unnoticed are symptoms that are not commonly associated with RA.
These unusual symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis are sometimes side effects of the medicine people with RA take to help with pain and swelling.
Here are 7 unusual symptoms that people with RA usually experience, aside from joint pain.
#1 – Hearing Loss
Several studies revealed that people with RA have a higher risk of sensorineural hearing loss.
This is a type of hearing loss that is caused by poor function of hair cells in the cochlea.
For some patients, hearing loss are due to pain medications.
Ringing in your ears (Tinnitus), can be a side effect of treatments from NSAIDs and DMARDs.
#2 – Vision or Eye Problems
Research shows that inflammation not only affects the joints but also other parts of the body, including the eyes.
The most common eye problem is Keratitis Sicca (also called Dry Eye Syndrome).
Women are inclined to be affected 9 times more than men.
This occurs when the eyes are unable to maintain a healthy film of tears.
Other conditions that may be experienced are:
- Scleritis – Inflammation of the eye wall or sclera.
- Uveitis – inflammation of the vascular layer of the eye or uvea
- Retinal Vascular Occlusion – Blocked blood vessels that feed the retina
- Glaucoma – Damage to the optic nerve
- Cataracts - Inflammation in the eyeball
#3 – Dryness
Patients with RA could possible get another autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome.
Sjögren’s syndrome causes severe dryness especially in the eyes.
It may also lead to dry mouth, nose, eyes, vagina, or skin.
Dry mouth and throat can cause difficulty in eating and swallowing.
It can also lead to:
- Oral infections
- Tooth decay
#4 – Cardiopulmonary Disease
RA may inflame the tissue that lines your lungs.
Male smokers or used to smoke, are more inclined to get serious lung problems.
Not everyone has respiratory symptoms.
But those who do may experience coughing , shortness of breath, and chest pains.
RA also causes plaque build- up, due to inflammation, that can cause heart attack or stroke.
Other shared- risk factors that may lead to heart disease are:
- High blood pressure – due to lack of exercise or medications taken to treat RA
- Metabolic syndrome – includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides
- Obesity – due to lack of activity because of joint pain
#5 – Flu-like symptoms
In some cases, flu-like symptoms are an indication that a flare-up is on the way.
The most common flu-like symptoms are:
- Short-term fever
- Lack of appetite
#6 – Mood Changes
Many patients diagnosed with RA were not prepared for the emotional and mental toll the disease bring.
RA is connected to anxiety, depression, and other mood problems.
Mainly because the disease causes pain, fatigue, and stiffness that make it harder to do everyday things.
Depression and anxiety could also come from inflammation.
Depression tends to be highest during flares.
#7 – Weight loss
Although RA cause some people to gain weight, others experience weight loss.
For weight loss, it is an indirect effect of RA due to its symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, depression.
Another factor for weight loss is taking the medication leflunomide that can also cause nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Although most of these unusual symptoms are terrifying, it is important to understand that RA can be managed by regularly seeing your doctor and consistently taking your RA medications.
There are also other natural ways of helping with RA pain and limit flares that cause these unwanted symptoms.
- Clean Eating. Look for recipes that are anti-inflammatory with natural ingredients and avoid processed food.
- Exercise. Look for low- impact exercises that you can do such as swimming, walking, and bicycling. Stretching also provides great comfort from joint pain.
- Sleep. Studies suggests that poor sleeping habits aggravates the level of pain and your ability to move.
- Massage. A 2013 study suggests that people with RA who avails of massage therapy had less pain, improved grip strength, and increased range of motion.
- Supplements. Some plant oils and fish oil supplements is believed to help reduce inflammation and stiffness.
- Hot and Cold. Hot and cold compress can help ease swelling and relax aching muscles.
- Creams, gels, and lotions. Helps ease painful joints and provides temporary relief.
- Assistive devices. Helps reduce pain and maintain mobility.
One should not feel overwhelmed with fear of these symptoms as there are many options that you can do to improve your quality of life and reduce RA’s progression.
It is always advisable to speak to your doctor about which treatments will work for you.