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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Early Signs And Symptoms.

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1 in 100 people today may be suffering from RA in the community, according to senior rheumatologist Dr Anand Malaviya. Read here to know about this condition which is commonly known for causing pain and stiffness in joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder of the joints. The condition begins insidiously with nonspecific aches and pains in the musculoskeletal system of the body that come-and-go. The symptoms progress over a period of time, within weeks or even some months when actual joint swellings become visible along with increasing stiffness and pains.

According to  , Senior Rheumatologist, “approximately 1 in 100 people may be suffering from RA in the community. The condition usually occurs in people between 20 years to 60 years of age.”

He says, “RA affects small and large joints in the arms and the legs in a symmetrical distribution (on both sides of the body).This is in contrast to the other very common joint disease (of elderly persons) called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis usually begins at a later age and most commonly affects one knee and then the other knee over time. RA is 5 times more common in women than men.”



The exact cause of RA is not known. However, it is well understood that the synovial tissue (the inner lining) of the joints become inflamed due to an autoimmune response (the immune system of the body becomes imbalanced and starts self-attack).

The cause of the autoimmune response is multifactorial including certain genetic risk factors and several environmental factors including smoking, poor oro-dental hygiene.

There are several additional risk factors that enhance the possibility of a poor treatment outcome in RA. These include obesity, lack of regular exercise and imbalanced diet. Eating plenty of fruits, green vegetables, and a balanced high-fibre diet helps in the control of RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, tissues surrounding the joints, as well as connective tissues at other places in the body.

Drinking baking soda daily may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, say scientists

The main symptoms of RA are morning stiffness (stiffness after a period of rest that may take 30 minutes to an hour before improving), pain and swelling in the small joints of the hands-fingers. But, almost all the other small and large joints in the body may get affected including wrists, elbows, shoulders, the knees, the ankles and the joints in the feet, in a symmetrical distribution.

However, spine involvement does not occur in RA (except in the upper neck) as also the hip involvement that is uncommon. Symptoms of RA are characterised by persistence (persists beyond 6 weeks), therefore, it is characterised as a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis).

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“A person suffering from RA is likely to wake up with stiff joints in the morning. They experience severe pain in different joints of the body like joints of hands, wrists, elbows, foot and ankle joints. They also experience visible swelling in these joints”, says Dr Malaviya. “People with RA experience fatigue, tiredness, unexpected weight loss, swelling in joints of hands, wrists and elbows. These people find it difficult to perform day-to-day activities”, he added.

RA can lead to the joints becoming swollen and tender with restricted movement especially small joints and joints of upper extremities. One may also have fatigue, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite and lack of sleep, weight loss etc. It is important to know that symptoms of RA are likely to fluctuate in severity over time.

Occasionally, the disease may ‘flare-up’ (a period during which inflammation and other symptoms increase and become more severe without any obvious cause). The ‘flare’may last for some days, or even months, unless treated appropriately.

A person suffering from RA is likely to wake up with stiff joints in the morning. They experience severe pain in different joints of the body like joints of hands, wrists, elbows, foot and ankle joints. They also experience visible swelling in these joints”

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Here’s how rheumatoid arthritis affects different organs

1. It causes gritty sensation, pain and dryness in eyes, may cause some degree of impaired vision and sensitivity to light.

2. Dryness of mouth, infection and gum irritation are also common in patients with RA.

3. ‘Rheumatoid nodules’ (mostly seen in RA patients who smoke) a hard small – to – medium size nodules subcutaneously seen near the olecranon process and the adjacent extensor surface of the forearm. They may also be seen (occasionally) as small hard nodules near the affected small joints in the fingers.

4. Prolonged uncontrolled inflammation in RA may lead to the involvement of the lungs causing difficulty in breathing. Shortness of breath and scarring of lungs are one of the most serious complications of RA that is often seen in those who do not take proper medicines from the beginning of the disease.

5. There are several other complications in patients with RA who have not received appropriate treatment. These include blockage in the arteries of the heart causing premature heart attacks, osteoporosis (brittle bones) causing fractures, skin lesions, reduced haemoglobin, tingling and numbness (neuropathy; entrapment syndrome), and many others.

RA can result in decreased range of motion in the affected joints. Inflammation in joints causes laxity of the supporting ligaments and tendons that causes deformities. With the progression of the disease, joint disabilities increase and the person may not be able to carry out normal routine functions including self-care, house-hold chores, job-related to her/his profession and loss of all the leisure-time activities.

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Stay Healthy & Protect Yourself from Cancer

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Health they say is wealth and there are certain habits that can guarantee great health even as you progress in years.
Eight healthy behaviors can go a long way toward improving your health and lowering your risk of many cancers as well as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis. And they’re not as complicated as you might think.
So take control of your health, and encourage your family to do the same. Choose one or two of the behaviors below to start with. Once you’ve got those down, move on to the others.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Keeping your weight in check is often easier said than done, but a few simple tips can help. First off, if you’re overweight, focus initially on not gaining any more weight. This by itself can improve your health. Then, when you’re ready, try to take off some extra pounds for an even greater health boost. To see where you fall on the weight range, click here.
Tips
  • Integrate physical activity and movement into your life.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Choose smaller portions and eat more slowly.
For Parents and Grandparents 
  • Limit children’s TV and computer time.
  • Encourage healthy snacking on fruits and vegetables.
  • Encourage activity during free time.
2. Exercise Regularly
Few things are as good for you as regular physical activity. While it can be hard to find the time, it’s important to fit in at least 30 minutes of activity every day. More is even better, but any amount is better than none.
Tips 
  • Choose activities you enjoy. Many things count as exercise, including walking, gardening and dancing.
  • Make exercise a habit by setting aside the same time for it each day. Try going to the gym at lunchtime or taking a walk regularly after dinner.
  • Stay motivated by exercising with someone.
For Parents and Grandparents 
  • Play active games with your kids regularly and go on family walks and bike rides when the weather allows.
  • Encourage children to play outside (when it’s safe) and to take part in organized activities, including soccer, gymnastics and dancing.
  • Walk with your kids to school in the morning. It’s great exercise for everyone.
3. Don’t Smoke
You’ve heard it before: If you smoke, quitting is absolutely the best thing you can do for your health. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s also far from impossible. More than 1,000 Americans stop for good every day.
Tips 
  • Keep trying! It often takes six or seven tries before you quit for good.
  • Talk to a health-care provider for help.
  • Join a quit-smoking program. Your workplace or health plan may offer one.
For Parents and Grandparents
  • Try to quit as soon as possible. If you smoke, your children will be more likely to smoke.
  • Don’t smoke in the house or car. If kids breathe in your smoke, they may have a higher risk of breathing problems and lung cancer.
  • When appropriate, talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco. A health-care professional or school counselor can help.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
Despite confusing news reports, the basics of healthy eating are actually quite straightforward. You should focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains and keep red meat to a minimum. It’s also important to cut back on bad fats (saturated and trans fats) and choose healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) more often. Taking a multivitamin with folate every day is a great nutrition insurance policy.
Tips
  • Make fruits and vegetables a part of every meal. Put fruit on your cereal. Eat vegetables as a snack.
  • Choose chicken, fish or beans instead of red meat.
  • Choose whole-grain cereal, brown rice and whole-wheat bread over their more refined counterparts.
  • Choose dishes made with olive or canola oil, which are high in healthy fats.
  • Cut back on fast food and store-bought snacks (like cookies), which are high in bad fats.
  • Buy a 100 percent RDA multivitamin that contains folate.
5. Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation, If at All
Moderate drinking is good for the heart, as many people already know, but it can also increase the risk of cancer. If you don’t drink, don’t feel that you need to start. If you already drink moderately (less than one drink a day for women, less than two drinks a day for men), there’s probably no reason to stop. People who drink more, though, should cut back.
Tips
  • Choose nonalcoholic beverages at meals and parties.
  • Avoid occasions centered around alcohol.
  • Talk to a health-care professional if you feel you have a problem with alcohol.
For Parents and Grandparents
  • Avoid making alcohol an essential part of family gatherings.
  • When appropriate, discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse with children. A health-care professional or school counselor can help.
6. Protect Yourself from the Sun
While the warm sun is certainly inviting, too much exposure to it can lead to skin cancer, including serious melanoma. Skin damage starts early in childhood, so it’s especially important to protect children.
Tips
  • Steer clear of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (peak burning hours). It’s the best way to protect yourself.
  • Wear hats, long-sleeve shirts and sunscreens with SPF15 or higher.
  • Don’t use sun lamps or tanning booths. Try self-tanning creams instead.
For Parents and Grandparents 
  • Buy tinted sunscreen so you can see if you’ve missed any spots on a fidgety child.
  • Set a good example for children by also protecting yourself with clothing, shade and sunscreen.
7. Protect Yourself From Sexually Transmitted Infections
Among other problems, sexually transmitted infections – like human papillomavirus (HPV) – are linked to a number of different cancers. Protecting yourself from these infections can lower your risk.
Tips
  • Aside from not having sex, the best protection is to be in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone who does not have a sexually transmitted infection.
  • For all other situations, be sure to always use a condom and follow other safe-sex practices.
  • Never rely on your partner to have a condom. Always be prepared.
For Parents and Grandparents
  • When appropriate, discuss with children the importance of abstinence and safe sex. A health-care professional or school counselor can help.
  • Vaccinate girls and young women as well as boys and young men against HPV. Talk to a health professional for more information.
8. Get Screening Tests
There are a number of important screening tests that can help protect against cancer. Some of these tests find cancer early when they are most treatable, while others can actually help keep cancer from developing in the first place. For colorectal cancer alone, regular screening could save over 30,000 lives each year. That’s three times the number of people killed by drunk drivers in the United States in all of 2011. Talk to a health care professional about which tests you should have and when.
Cancers that should be tested for regularly:
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Lung cancer (in current or past heavy smokers)

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Health & Lifestyle

Sickle cell may get solution soon – scientists.

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Scientists in the U.S. have unveiled results of a small clinical trial that could mean an effective “cure” for sickle cell anemia, the painful and debilitating disease that inflicts many millions of people across the globe, mostly of African heritage and including some 100,000 African Americans in the U.S.



Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say they have used gene therapy techniques to add a “corrected” gene for healthy red blood cells into the bodies of nine test patients, replacing their diseased red blood cells caused by sickle cell anemia and effectively ridding them of signs of the disease.

NIH Director Francis Collins described the trial results as seemingly “spectacular”.

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“When you look at their blood counts and their blood smears, it looks like they don’t have it anymore,” Collins said on Monday (March 11) from his office at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes protein crystals to form inside red blood cells, changing their shape from a flat disk into a crescent or sickle shape that then clogs up the small blood vessels and results in terrible episodes of pain and organ damage.

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But they believe the basic premise of introducing a corrected gene into the body holds promise for Africa provided a simpler, cheaper and less toxic delivery system than bone marrow transplant and the accompanying chemotherapy can be found.

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