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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to help your Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis (or to just live longer)

While there are promising new treatments to add to the life of a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are also a few simple lifestyle changes that will improve health and increase their chances of a longer life.  If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, try out these life tips.  If you don’t suffer from arthritis, you still might want to follow some of these tips for a healthier lifestyle.

  • Sleep well.  Not getting enough sleep causes the hormones leptin (hunger) and ghrelin (fullness) be off-balanced.  This means you will eat more and gain weight, which can cause the pain and inflammation from your RA to become worse.  Sleep also boosts the immune system, which will defend your body from the illnesses you don’t want to deal with while handling your arthritis diagnosis.
  • Lift weights.  Research from Great Britain shows that strength training as many long-term benefits for people with RA.  Fit strength training into your schedule for a half hour two or three times a week for a better prognosis.  It is recommended to start with a qualified trainer so as to not hurt yourself.
  • Eat more fish.  Improving your diet as a part of your treatment can help tremendously.  For example, eating fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut) twice a week will provide you with a good source of protein, relatively low saturated fats, and lots of omega-3 fatty acids.  These omega-3 acids have been shown to reduce the risk heart disease and cancer, and a number of studies have found that fish oil reduces rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
  • Quit smoking.  Smoking not only increases your risk of heart disease and lung cancer, but a recent Swedish study found that RA patients who smoke are less likely to respond to their treatment.
  • Get regular check-ups.  You may have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but don’t forget about the things you usually do to stay healthy.  Take the time to get a flu shot and other necessary immunizations to add years to your life and to improve your RA prognosis.  Continue following the recommended schedule for cancer scans, and check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Be kind to your mouth.  Taking care of your teeth and gums will improve your longevity, as researchers have found links between oral bacteria and a number of deadly health issues like stroke and diabetes.  Brush and floss regularly to keep bacteria and dental plaque from building up, and make sure to get regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Being overweight can put additional stress on your joints, something you don’t want while undergoing RA treatment.  It can also put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Stay out of the sun.  Several medications for RA treatment may make you more sensitive to the sun, so when you’re outside take care to keep the sun’s rays from reaching your skin and causing skin cancer.  For better health in general, where sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen if you’ll be outside for more than 15 minutes.
  • Laugh!  Laughter is the best medicine for people with rheumatoid arthritis because it can help you relax muscles and reduce the stress of your RA diagnosis.  It can also relieve pain and strengthen your immune system, so go sit down with your favorite joke book!


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