Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rheumatoid arthritis in women

Pratibha, one of my closest friends, now 36, aspired to be a pilot in her prime time. But now she is just happy looking after her family and home, as a homemaker. She is not even complaining because at the age of 23 she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis! At that time she could not even dream of continuing with her life normally without having to depend on others, entirely. Pilot training demanded rigorous flight hours which her joints could not endure for long.

Millions of women across the globe are plagued by this disease at a very young age. The disease manifests cruelly in women who have to shoulder huge professional as well as domestic responsibilities.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

This is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system starts attacking its own tissues mistakenly. People with this disease have antibodies circulating in their blood stream that target the body's tissues and organs resulting in severe pain, stiffness and inflammation. Since it affects the multiple organs of the body, Rheumatoid Arthritis is known as a systemic syndrome. This is a chronic illness which progresses eventually to cause joint obliteration and finally functional disability and women are more susceptible to it because of their different immune system and comparatively weaker musculoskeletal structure.

 Cause and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Various infectious agents such viruses, bacteria and fungi have been suspected to be responsible but nothing has been proven as yet. It is believed that it might be because of genetic disposition. The symptoms of the disease vary according to the extent of the tissue inflammation. The disease might present itself very actively at some stage of life and then it may subside due to the treatment or any other factor. When the disease is active the symptoms may be fatigue, loss of energy, fever, loss of appetite, painful joints, difficulty in the movement etc.

Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Drug Therapy: Various drugs are administered for the treatment of this disease such as analgesics to control pain, NSAID's, COX-II inhibitors, corticosteroids etc.
    Exercise: To keep Rheumatoid Arthritis in check, exercise is crucial as it reduces the overall pain; it maintains the muscle strength and tone. One should go for regular walk which could be from moderate to brisk, some stretching and even aerobics. Jogging and heavy weight lifting should be avoided though to reduce stress on the joints.
    Diet: As with all the ailments, here also diet plays a crucial role in keeping the disease under control. More brown bread, brown rice, fruits and vegetables should be replaced for butter, cheese and processed foods.

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