Published by Steve Hedberg on January 3, 2012 Under arthritis
While there has been a tremendous amount of research into rheumatoid arthritis(RA,) the exact causes of it are not completely understood. There have been a number of risk factors found that can be associated with this type of arthritis and it is known to be an autoimmune disorder, where the body begins to fight itself damaging healthy cells, but the exact cause has not been pinpointed.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, with around 1.5 million Americans having the disease, with the majority being female. It is one of the most common types of arthritis, second only to osteoarthritis.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Infection presents the most logical root cause of rheumatoid arthritis and a number of infections have been found to illicit an autoimmune response from the body. For example, streptococcus, which is a type of throat infection, can lead to acute kidney disease and other serious autoimmune responses.
Even though disease or infection is thought to be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, it is not likely to be something that is directly contagious. This is, of course, not proven, but no indication that the disease can be “caught” has been discovered in any of the research thus far.
The disease itself dates back over five hundred years and is far more common in females, being approximately 3 times more likely to occur in a woman than a man. Generally, the disease shows itself between the ages of 15 to 35 or after 70 years old.
Some speculation occurs over the link of stress to the immune system. This is in part because hormones have been found to be directly tied to autoimmune responses and stress can affect hormone production, therefore the jump of rheumatoid arthritis being related to stress is not surprising.
Genetics are another factor that may be related to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. The disease is much more common in families with a history of Rheumatoid Arthritis and a link to a specific blood antigen, called human leukocye antigen(HLA) has been found. An antigen directly ties into the immune system, causing immune responses, however in the case of HLA, it is thought to not be a cause, but rather a factor that increases the susceptibility of contracting rheumatoid arthritis.
Although many of those who develop rheumatoid arthritis do not have the HLA antigen present, those that do are at a significantly increased risk of developing the disease.
What Are Some Risk Factors Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In many that develop rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorders are also present, often directly related to other forms of arthritis. For example, scleromaacia, which is a type of eye inflammation is more likely to occur in someone with rheumatoid arthritis.
Other diseases, like carpal tunnel syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Amyloidosis are also risk factors to those with RA.
The former, Amyloidosis results in the buildup of a waxy substance in other organs in the body and is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis. Sjogren’s Syndrome, the eyes and mouth can dry out, as the result of an autoimmune reaction, which can also damage the thyroid glands. Carpal tunnel syndrome, is often tied to physical factors that are specific to the hand and wrist, like typing or drawing, but inflammation can also be a risk factor, which can result from rheumatoid arthritis.
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