Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition that is marked by serious trauma to the lungs. In time, this trauma results in trouble breathing. A host of diseases can lead to the development of pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common of which is rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that incites too much inflammation in the body, impacting joints. However, rheumatoid arthritis is also known to affect other tissues such as the lungs. Nearly 40% of rheumatoid arthritis patients also develop pulmonary fibrosis. As it happens, the secondary cause of fatalities among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis is trouble breathing. With that said, researchers have yet to identify the exact correlation between pulmonary fibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
When you consult with your primary physician, make sure to explain your symptoms thoroughly regardless of how and why you think you have difficulty breathing. This is paramount because according to patient data, most RA patients neglect to report their breathing difficulties as the joint pain RA causes leads them to avoid physical exertion.
Even though rheumatoid arthritis treatment methods have advanced over the years, this is not true for pulmonary disease. The purpose of any given treatment plan is to get the disease under control by proper approaches to impede its progression.
The Connection Between Pulmonary Fibrosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
While researchers have not yet pinpointed the exact cause of pulmonary fibrosis, they do know that having rheumatoid arthritis can up one’s chances of getting pulmonary fibrosis due to the inflammation brought on by RA.
Studies also suggest that there is an association between increased RA antibody counts and the risk of interstitial lung disease. This lung disease is the leading pulmonary condition linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Interstitial lung disease is a severe condition that can become fatal and progress into pulmonary fibrosis.
Other Risk Factors for Pulmonary Fibrosis
The most common risk factors associated with pulmonary fibrosis are:
– Smoking and constant contact with hazardous pollutants
– Viral diseases
– Certain medications that impair the lungs such as chemotherapy and cardiovascular medicines
– A family history of lung disease as well as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Some conditions that take their toll on the lungs like pneumonia can also lead to pulmonary fibrosis.
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