For anyone who is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is extremely important to understand the importance of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 called COVID-19. People with Rheumatoid Arthritis are predisposed (at greater risk) to infections because of both their disease as well as the medications they take to manage it. Recognizing this increased susceptibility and the importance of being well-informed in order to take appropriate actions, we are sharing the below information from the CDC.
Being experts in vitamin therapy, we want to make sure anyone with RA is consistently eating healthy and receiving vitamin supplements during this time.
Most recently, theU.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention (CDC) issued a statement noting that while the risk of widespread infection continues to be low in the U.S., it is important to prepare for the possibility. As with any respiratory illness, the agency recommends ways to protect against infection that everyone should follow, and particularly the elderly, children and people whose immune systems are compromised (weakened).
Steps to Prevent Infection
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent infection is to:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when not near soap and water
Clean and disinfect areas you and others touch often
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
Travel Caution from the CDC
The CDC is also a good resource for advice about traveling outside of the U.S. Here are their current recommendations:
Avoid travel to the People’s Republic of China and South Korea unless necessary.
Older people and those with chronic medical conditions are advised to postpone travel if possible, to Iran, Italy and Japan because of the current cases of disease seen in these countries.
TheAmerican College of Rheumatologyprovided guidance for people who have rheumatologic diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis. Suggestions for prevention agree with the CDC recommendations; however, the overall content is specific to the concerns of this population.
The two-time Golden Globe award winner for best actress and an American film director fights rheumatoid arthritis.
Kathleen Turner, the incredible actress, and film director was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 1992 before her 40th birthday. According to the Arthritis Foundation, RA is an autoimmune disease, which the body’s immune system attacks the joints causing tissue inflammation inside of the joints (the synovium) thickens, resulting in pain affecting the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. Over time, RA can cause damage or cartilage loss, which decreases the joint space between bones that is extremely painful to RA patients.
About 1.5 million people in the United States have RA, which impacts women three times as much as men between ages 30 and 60 says the Arthritis Foundation.
Before her diagnosis, Turner shares on the Health Awareness article, “It was frightening. I did not know what was happening to me. I didn’t know why there was so much pain, and I felt so ill.” Turner had experienced early symptoms of RA, including fatigue, joint pain, morning stiffness, and inflammation. After her diagnosis, she was able to adapt to adjust her life and fight her autoimmune disease.
Now let’s focus on what we learned about Kathleen Turner and her story fighting RA.
1.) Joint Pain and Stiffness
According to the Vulture interview, the actress expressed what her experience was working with Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholas, but also how she dealt with RA in the 1990s, which was not commonly treated. Turner expresses, “I was in a great deal of pain — I don’t know how I got through it.One of the most painful areas was my right wrist. Just touching it would make me want to scream. It is hard to understand the level of pain that this disease [rheumatoid arthritis] brings” (2018).
Joint painand stiffnessare common symptoms of RA, as well as fatigue, numbness, and tingling. It is always advised to see your doctor for any concerns or questions regarding your health. According to Healthline, some other early warning signs to look for includes a decrease in range of motion, chest pain, hard bumps of tissue under the skin on your arms, and difficulty sleeping. Turner explains to the Today morning show, that in the 1990s, when she was diagnosed, RA was not that common and “the only effective treatment…was massive doses of steroids” with “massive side effects. If I went to pick up a bottle, I could not grip it, and people would assume I was inebriated,” she added. Turner was experiencing significant challenges with her RA throughout her career, and at one point, she questioned her acting career because some days, she would not know if she would be able to walk due to her joint pain and stiffness.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the cause for RA is not fully understood. However, there is evidence that genes, hormones, and environmental factors can impact one’s capability of being diagnosed with RA. For example, “bacteria or viruses, which may trigger development of the disease in a person’s genes, making them more likely to get it; female hormones (70 percent of people with RA are women); obesity; and the body’s response to stressful events such as physical or emotional trauma” (2019).
2.) RA Treatments and Steroids
According to the Arthritis Foundation, Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment’s main goal are to “stop inflammation, relieve symptoms, prevent joint or organ damage, improve physical function, and overall well-being” [of the patient]. One of the main benefitsof detecting RA in the early stages is to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage or severe pain quickly. Each RA case may affect individuals differently, meaning not every RA patient has the same symptoms as other patients. Some medications for RA are accessible over-the-counter or prescribed to target RA symptoms such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other medications such as corticosteroids, which slow down the autoimmune disease. Kathleen Turner tells Vulture, the medication that she used to treat her condition changed her self-esteem and decreased her confidence because of her physicality.
“I suppose there was a feeling of loss. Rheumatoid arthritis hit in my late 30s — the last of my years in which Hollywood would consider me a sexually appealing leading lady… If I didn’t have that, who was I?” Turner says. Turner had a long journey in finding the right doctor that would support her career and allow her to have hope. One doctor that Turner later fired told her that she would spend the rest of her lifein a wheelchair because of her condition, which was far from the truth.
Turner did not give up and found other doctors that helped battle her RA. Turner can walk and enjoy life without a wheelchair, which has made her feel grateful for her fantastic support system. Turner continued to pursue her dreams and became an iconic actress in many films. Turner not only regained her confidence but became an advocate for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Turner shares her story to help bring awareness about RA and hoping that others will understand the symptoms to look for.
3.) Turner’s Life Lessons
Turner learned about her condition, and she was able to understand how to cope with her symptoms. Turner shares on Closer Weekly, “I had some tough times. Last year was hell because my medication stopped working. I’m now on something that seems to be working better, but I’m in constant pain.” Turner expresses that her chronic pain mainly affects her feet and hands, which has also made her feel insecure about her body as she gets older. Turner said, “Every time I look in a mirror, I think I’ve got to lose weight! I try to eat healthily.” Regardless, Turner continues to love herself and be a fantastic role model for her daughter, Rachel Ann Weiss. Rachel shares the advice her mother told her, “She has always taught me there is no halfway, You must invest yourself fully. ” Turner has been able to teach her daughter the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle because it can help improve one’s overall health. Kathleen Turner takes on everyday head-on. Chronic painis no joke, but learning how to control and manage RA symptoms is essential.
4.) Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Kathleen Turner is an RA Warrior, who is passionate about sharing her story to help other individuals understand the autoimmune disease. It is essential to maintain a balanced diet because it can help alleviate RA symptoms. In the Daily Mail, Kathleen Turner expresses, she had 12 operations over 12 years to maintain her painful symptomsand says, “Pilates saved my life,” which she practices twice a week to maintain her strength and flexibility. Practicing workout that targets improving coordination and balance is a great way to help alleviate RA symptoms. Turner did not let her RA get the best of her as she continued to reach success as a director. Turner is a fighter and continues to tackle her condition.
Some helpful diet tips that can reduce inflammation is known as the anti-inflammatory diet for RA patients. The Arthritis Foundationstates, the consumption of “foods that are rich in antioxidants to help control and reduce inflammation.” Some foods that are high in antioxidants are berries, fish, vegetables, and olive oil. Besides getting a nutritious diet, it is essential to get rest throughout the day to conserve energy and protect joints. Some exercises that are important to incorporate are aerobic activitiessuch as swimming, cycling, and Pilates, whichimproves muscle strength and flexibility.
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, will help reduce stress, manage your RA symptoms, and improving your overall health. A cookbook that has many great meals to help with RA patients is called The Rheumatoid Arthritis Cookbookby Samson Caitlin, which has anti-inflammatory recipes to fight flares and fatigue. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, always contact your healthcare provider. Finding the right diet or exercising may be difficult, but it is essential to try and find what remedies work best for you.
“Behind every chronic illness is a person trying to find their way” – RheumaRelief
Hey Warriors! Do you find it hard to get up and exercise somedays, especially during a flare? In this week’s blog post we will be discussing exercises that are good to do for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Starting slow helps a lot and sometimes during a flare is one of the most important times to exercise.
Our first tip is to stretch daily to help with flexibility and range of motion. If you can set a side time in the morning to do this that would be best for your body. This tends to help reduce joint stiffness throughout the day. A good stretching routine would be: warm up by walking in place for a couple of minutes, then do stretches that involve your knees, elbows, and hands in a slow movement and hold these stretches for 10-20 sec, then repeat each stretch. If you find yourself not maintaining proper form, use a yoga strap.
During a flare you may not have tons of energy, so after stretching try going on a 10-15 min walk. This often times helps put you in a better mood and helps your heart and joints. Start off slow and overtime feel free to increase your pace and distance. If you still want to exercise for 30 min during a flare, try splitting it up into three sessions so you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.
Another exercise that is highly recommended is cycling, due to the fact that RA patients are at risk of cardiovascular disease. Riding a stationary bike is a great way to get your heart rate up and increase leg strength and reduce stiffness. This can also build your endurance so on your good days you can get longer workouts in!
Next we are going to talk about strength training. It is recommended that RA patients do exercises that build muscle strength in addition to cardio. A low level resistance band is a good place to start for this type of exercising. It is recommended that RA patients use lighter weights and do more repetitions. Start off with machines and only lift 5-10% of your body weight when working your upper body. You may lift 25% of your body weight when working out your legs. When starting this you may want to speak with a physical therapist, so they can give you a workout plan that is right for you.
Every patient is different and some patients may work out longer than others. Don’t push yourself too hard and it is important to rest in between workouts. A twenty to thirty min work out is all you need. On days where you aren’t feeling up for a workout try getting some stretching in and a short walk!
Hey warriors! Did you know there has been many advancements within the research of Rheumatoid Arthritis. In this week’s blog post we will discuss what researchers have been finding out about Rheumatoid Arthritis regarding what type of people are more likely to develop RA and their progress on finding a cure for RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is most common in older women, but there are several risk factors that everyone should avoid to prevent RA or make your symptoms milder. According to Medical News Today an article written by Rachel Nall states that obesity and being overweight can often lead to RA. If you have RA you may experience unhealthy weight loss due to a lack of appetite and not being able to exercise, which can lead to cardiovascular disease or cancer. It is important that you maintain a healthy weight, not overweight or underweight, to prevent RA and to allow yourself to be strong while dealing with RA.
Many RA patients wonder if RA is hereditary. According to Yvette Brazier, researchers have found that there is a positive correlation. If a family member has RA it can cause you to have a higher risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis due to RA risk factors, such as obesity or smoking. One reason why women are more likely to develop this disease is because high levels of estrogen has been known to be a trigger RA.
A recent case study that was held at Stanford University helped us get a step closer for finding a solution to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Dr. Paddock states that they discovered that helper T cells have low levels of ATP in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients and instead of making more ATP, they make more cell material which causes more damage. In people without RA these cells are able to realize they have low levels of ATP using the AMPK, which is the monitor of the ratio of ATP. So how do we get this monitor to work again in RA patients? They have found a compound, A769662 that can activate AMPK. This will reverse the behavior of the faulty helper T cells and allow enough ATP to be produced, so your body can have enough energy instead of producing more cell material. This study was released recently, so we hope in the near future there will be even more evidence that this can help RA patients!
Vitamin therapy is essential for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. Many RA patients have vitamin deficiencies and need to take many vitamins to help relieve their symptoms. While you can get some vitamins by maintaining a healthy diet, an RA patient typically needs more than that. In this week’s blog post we will discuss what vitamins are best for RA patients and why they help.
The first vitamin that we will discuss is vitamin D, which is an important vitamin for your bones, muscles, and immune system. Many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is necessary for RA patients because people who often have a low level of vitamin D often experience worse RA symptoms than those with higher amounts of vitamin D. It is important to have enough vitamin D so your body can use the calcium it receives and vitamin D helps lower inflammation. Vitamin D can even be found in salmon, but if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D with your diet consider talking to your doctor about taking a vitamin that contains vitamin D.
Our next essential supplement that RA patients struggle to get enough of is calcium. This mineral is important for our bones and muscles, however RA patients often have a hard time absorbing this and RA can cause bone loss. This can lead to weak bones and make fractures likely to happen, therefore making sure you are getting enough calcium into your body is important so your bones become stronger. Some foods that are a good source of calcium are: salmon, almonds, broccoli, kale, and orange juice.
Another vitamin that helps RA patients is vitamin B-12. This vitamin helps make red bloods cells and allows the nervous system to function properly. Vitamin B-12 is essential for RA patients because it reduces homocysteine, which is an amino acid that RA patients tend to have high levels of. Having a high level of homocysteine can increase your risk of fractures. Nuts can be a great source of this. If you aren’t getting enough of these vitamins in your daily diet vitamin therapy is the way to go!
Last week we talked about healthy diet options for RA patients and types of foods that will help with your pain and inflammation. This week our focus will be on foods that you should try to avoid if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the reasoning behind it.
Our first recommendation is to stay away from meats that have been grilled or fried at a high temperature, such as hamburgers and red meats. This is because these meats contain high levels of advanced glycation end products, otherwise known as AGE’s, in the blood. It has not been scientifically proven that this is a direct cause, but people with high inflammation tend to have higher levels of AGE’s. High amounts of sugar can also increase AGE’s, so it is important to stay away from sodas and candy. Try replacing it with a sweet fruit!
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Our second diet recommendation is avoiding foods with omega-6 fatty acids. This is usually in processed and fried foods. Avoiding this will help with joint inflammation and obesity. It is important that RA patients take this into consideration while shopping for snacks. Instead buy fresh fruits and nuts for snack time.
Another suggestion is to avoid foods with high amounts of salt. Foods that need a lot of preservatives often times have an excessive amount of salt. Even though prepared microwaveable meals are easier they usually have high amounts of sodium, so preparing your own meals with fresh food is the best way to go.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Our last diet tip for this week is to stay away from alcohol and tobacco. These can lead to many health problems and affect your joints. This can affect your balanced diet and not allow your body to get as much rest as it should be. Making healthy choices will result in less inflammation and much less pain as an RA patient.
Eating a healthy well balanced diet is one of the best things you can do as a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient. People with RA suffer from inflammation and luckily there are plenty of foods that can help with this. In this week’s blog post we will give you tips on what food can help your RA symptoms and help you feel better throughout the day!
Our first diet tip is to eat foods that help prevent inflammation. If your joints are already sore, we want to make sure that there is no extra weight from inflammation on these sore joints. Eating foods that contain a lot of fiber will help reduce inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains causes your body to have less C-reactive protein, which is what causes inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil also reduces inflammation by blocking the enzymes that cause inflammation.
Another symptom that RA patients deal with is morning stiffness and tender joints. One food group that can help these symptoms is fish. This allows you to get a high amount of omega-3, which also helps with inflammation. The best types of fish to eat if you have RA are salmon, tuna, and sardines. It is recommended that you eat a three-six ounce servings of fish two-four times a week. This can also help prevent other diseases, such as heart disease and can lower blood pressure. If you are on a budget fish may be a little too expensive, so we suggest eating fish that is in the freezer section or canned for a more affordable price.
It is important for everyone to drink plenty of water, but especially RA patients. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times will make you drink much more water. By drinking enough water, oxygen and nutrients can be carried to your cells. If you don’t like plain water try adding lemon, raspberries, or cucumbers to add flavor and to give it a nutritional boost!
Eat Like a Mediterranean
Eating the Mediterranean diet has many benefits for RA patients and help lower your blood pressure, lose weight and lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, a great snack would be some nuts or seeds, such as sunflower seeds or almonds. It is healthy and fills you up! You can also add them to a salad or low-fat yogurt if you prefer to not eat nuts and seeds plain.
Making changes to your diet can be a big challenge for many people. It is important that you do it slowly so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Try changing one-two things a day and soon you will have changed your diet without even realizing it!
Are you a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient that experiences sleep issues? If so, here’s some tips for you! Many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients toss and turn at night and experience a lack of sleep due to painful stiff joints and inflammation. It is important that you get enough sleep so your symptoms don’t worsen. In this week’s blog we will discuss some ways that can guide you to getting a better night’s rest!
Take Pressure Off
Our first tip is to take any pressure off of you. Sleeping with heavy blankets can put pressure on your painful joints and make inflammation worse. If you need covers over you try using a very light sheet or if you would like heavier blankets, try propping them up with posts so their weight isn’t directly on you. This way there is nothing touching your affected joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have also found that aromatherapy helps them sleep. If you have the scent of lavender in the room you sleep in it is known to help you relax. You could either use a mist spray or essential oils can be the solution as well. Drinking a cup of warm almond or soy milk before bed can also help you fall asleep.
Coping with Depression
Many patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis are more prone to depression, which also causes people to not sleep well. It is important that you manage this and set aside time during the day to deal with your worries rather than letting them make you be awake all night. Some ideas for this is write down all your worries on one side of a piece of paper and how you will cope with them on another side. Writing your worries down and a solution for them often takes a big weight off your shoulder.
Another tip is to develop a regular routine. Therefore, going to sleep, eating, working out and going to bed the same time every day will help your body sleep at night. Engaging in physical activity everyday will help your body be ready for bed when it is bed time. It is important to not sleep in if you are experiencing sleep problems because that will ruin your sleep schedule for the upcoming nights.
If you are in a lot of pain before going to bed, whatever type of pain medication you use might do the trick. It is important that you don’t take pain medication to sleep every night, otherwise you may start to rely on it and not be able to sleep without taking it.
In this week’s blog post we will be talking about self-care treatments for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Coping with RA can be difficult, especially when one week you feel great and the next week you can barely get out of bed. We will discuss simple at home remedies and self-care treatments that can help relieve some of your RA symptoms.
Heat and Cold Therapy
The first at home remedy that we recommend is applying heat or cold to the affected area. But how do we know when to apply cold or heat to the area? When experiencing acute pain, it is best to apply a cold pack to numb the area and reduce inflammation. Put the cold pack on for fifteen minutes and off for fifteen minutes. Apply a heat pad or take a warm bath when your muscles are tired and your joints need to be soothed. The heat will allow an increase in your blood flow, allowing tight muscles to relax.
Lowering your stress level is one of the best things you can do to reduce your symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing will help painful muscles relax. Massages and acupuncture are another two treatments that help relieve pain, increase joint function, and reduce stress.
Exercising is an important treatment for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Light aerobic exercises that strengthen muscles around your joints is highly recommended. Swimming and any water aerobics is a good exercise routine to get into. During a flare up it is important to take a break from exercising and bed rest may be what is best for you at that time. However, try to only bed rest for one to two days. It is important to keep you muscles moving and to stretch, so once you feel you are able to exercise again try going for a walk to get your muscles warmed up.
Having positive emotional support allows you to have a positive outlook on life and help you get back to your normal lifestyle faster after a flare up. As we talked about last week, it is important to go to your friends and family for help when needed.
In this week’s blog post we’d like to discuss how to talk to your loved ones about your Rheumatoid Arthritis. Often times no one around you will understand what you are going through until they hear it from you and experts on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many patients will take out their frustration on their loved ones, especially their spouses. To prevent this everyone around you needs to be aware of what your symptoms consist of and what would help you most.
It is important that your spouse comes to your doctor visits with you so they can hear from an expert what you are going through and understand. The doctor can be there to answer any questions your loved ones may have that you might not be able to answer. The more your loved ones understand what you are dealing with the more they will be able to help.
If you have children it is important that you make them aware of your condition. They will wonder what is going on and hiding it from them will make the situation worse. Sitting them down and discussing what will change around the house will help them and you. Let them know what they can do around the house, whether it is keeping the house clean or helping with dinner. Explain what symptoms you have and what it is like to have this disease with your family. Let them know how you usually feel at different parts of the day so they can understand why mornings might be tough for you due to morning stiffness.
After explaining how you feel to your loved ones they may understand more, but still don’t know exactly what they can do to help. It is important that you give them specific tasks that they can do to help to ease your pain. Make sure you don’t assume they know what to do and they won’t assume they know how you are feeling in that moment. Your friends may wonder how they can help, so don’t be afraid to give them a grocery list and send them to the store when you feel like you just can’t make it to the store that day.
Always remember to keep talking about what you are going through and keep your loved ones informed of ways they can help. Being able to talk about how you are feeling will help you lower your stress and frustration levels. Your symptoms may come and go so it is important to keep your loved ones updated.
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