By: Ramesh Jois, a Consultant Rheumatologist at Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is one of the most feared diseases according to people. We as specialists address it as a chronic auto-immune disease which can be controlled if diagnosed at the early stages. An individual gets prone to RA when the immune system gets invaded by bacteria and viruses causing damage to the body tissues. But, if the symptoms are ignored the disease can lead to multi-organ functional disabilities like damaging the eyes, skin, kidneys, and lungs. The common symptoms faced by any individual suffering from RA is pain, swelling, and inflammation in the joints.
Generally, the symptoms will need to be present for more than three months to consider the diagnosis as the initial symptoms of RA can be very mild making the diagnosis more difficult. However, some patients
are diagnosed sooner.
Commenting about RA in Bengaluru, Dr. Ramesh Jois said, “We are seeing more number of patients with autoimmune diseases like RA mainly due to better awareness amongst healthcare professionals, patients, and the general public. Easy access to specialists (Rheumatologists) in the cities has coupled with the widespread availability of diagnostic tests make earlier diagnosis easier.
However, still, lack the number of rheumatologists to help a large number of patients”. “Women are more prone to RA compared to men. RA in children (called Juvenile arthritis) can start as early as two years of age. It can cause significant disability which can become permanent when
inadequately treated due to deformities. But patients need to understand and take precautions that all joint pains are not age-related to degeneration, calcium deficiency, and chikungunya. They need to seek early help from a rheumatologist, intake of prescribed medications and follow up with a
doctor to monitor disease activity and therapy”.
The awareness levels regarding rheumatoid arthritis are gradually increasing. Arthritis treatment has seen significant advances in the last decade. The main principle of treatment is to relieve inflammation, prevent disease progression and joint deformities. Hence with the right edications, many patients can have no signs of the active disease. RA is a disease that doesn’t currently have a permanent cure but seeking help from a rheumatologist can help manage the disease better and enable patients to live a normal life.
(Views expressed are author’s own)