Rheumatoid arthritis lung diseases develop when the body attacks the tissues around the lung cavity—(it also can attack the eyes, heart, digestive organs, blood vessels, and other tissues.)
Outside of the joints, rheumatoid arthritis lung issues are the most common manifestations of the disease. Problems can include damage to the airways, lung nodules fluid build-up between the lung and chest wall, and interstitial lung disease.
Lungs, RA, and Diagnosis
Rheumatoid arthritis lung issues are more common than congestive heart complications. The medical community estimates that 1 out of 10 #RAWarriors will get interstitial lung disease. Lung issues develop after joint inflammation typically. It’s very rare to see lung difficulties at the onset of RA.
Unless exhibiting lung issues as the first set of symptoms, #RAWarriors generally do not have to worry about interstitial lung disease. Interstitial lung disease (ILD), is a culmination of scarring from the immune system attacking lung tissue over time. Long-term inflammation may cause shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite over time.
Taking Care of Your Lungs When First Diagnosed
Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines: Everyone should get their flu shot. #RAWArriors must make it a priority. In most cases, #RAWarriors take immunosuppressant medications for RA. Therefore the immune system might be compromised. Ask a doctor about prophylactic pneumonia options too.
Regular Check-Ups: It’s recommended to see a primary care provider one time each year to make sure bodily functions are running properly. #RAWarriors should also have a RA treatment team. If there is a concern of RA flares are causing lung issues, call a medical team right away. If there is extended wait time, visit a community health clinic to express concerns.
No Cigarettes: Just don’t do it.
Treatment for Lung Issues and RA
Treatment can come in many forms. Some medical providers treat the actual RA with immunosuppressant drugs to diminish complications. In more advanced cases, doctors can remove fluid between the lungs or even perform a lung transplant.
Lungs Are Important Anyways
Lungs are important regardless if someone has RA or not. Take good care of them by drinking plenty of fluids, not smoking any substance, and avoiding second-hand smoke. Other measures involve thoroughly washing hands and being conscientious about hazardous air or pollution—(ask for protection at workplaces if you need it!)
If experiencing dry coughing, heavy breathing, or chest pain as an #RAWarrior, to a doctor immediately. Noticing and acting on small problems can help decrease the chance of larger complications in the future. You got this.