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What Is The Connection Between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis has been noticed to occur commonly in patients who are struggling in their battle against Rheumatoid arthritis. And although these statistics have been present for quite a while now, researchers and doctors are still unable to clearly determine the link between these two medical conditions, except the fact that both of these conditions are quite difficult to be handled by the patients.

In the following article first, we will explain everything that you need to know about Rheumatoid arthritis and Pulmonary fibrosis alone only to then discuss the relationship between these two medical issues. Let’s start, shall we?

What Do You Need to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is only one of the 100 different types of arthritis, known to men. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation to occur in the joints and sometimes, in other body parts as well. The characteristic symptoms and signs of arthritis can be noticed here as well starting from pain, swelling, redness, stiffness, and decreased the range of motion.

Fever, fatigue and joint deformity might also develop. Rheumatoid arthritis causes occasional flare-ups and remissions to occur. Until today, there is still no known cure[1] for Rheumatoid arthritis. However, a lot of rest, a few lifestyle changes, exercising and some herbal remedies can do the thing and minimalize the flare-ups.

Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Key Facts About Pulmonary fibrosis

  • Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that results[2] in tissue damage and scarring of the lungs. This leads to the point where your lungs are no longer able to function properly and you experience difficulties breathing.
  • The cause of pulmonary fibrosis is yet to be found which is why pulmonary fibrosis is most commonly referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, it is known that many medical conditions and the use of certain medications can lead to the development of Pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Symptoms related to pulmonary fibrosis are – fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath, and even muscle pain and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms can variate from mild to more severe depending on the general condition of the patient. The symptoms can also not progress for several years.
  • The treatment of pulmonary fibrosis consists of medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy and even lung transplantation in some cases where there is too much lung tissue damage present.

What is the Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pulmonary Fibrosis

Now that we have defined the two terms – Rheumatoid arthritis and Pulmonary fibrosis, let’s discuss the link between them. Previously we have mentioned that some medical conditions can be the cause of Pulmonary fibrosis. One of these medical conditions is Rheumatoid arthritis, although the exact link between these two conditions is yet to be discovered.

In fact, up to 40% of the Rheumatoid arthritis patients[3] develop Pulmonary fibrosis during their lifetime. The breathing problems that Pulmonary fibrosis causes for these patients are also the common reason for death. It is believed that the inflammation that develops due to Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of Pulmonary fibrosis in these patients.

A research[4] done showed that the high counts of RA antibodies within these patients are linked to the development of Pulmonary fibrosis. The chances of getting affected by Pulmonary fibrosis for a Rheumatoid arthritis patient increase if the patient has a family history of Pulmonary fibrosis, smokes, has a history of gastrointestinal reflux and uses medications that are linked with the higher occurrence of Pulmonary fibrosis.

Now that it is clear to us that there is a real link between these two medical conditions, although the link itself is yet to be more deeply discussed, what are we left to do with it? Although there is no found cure for either of these medical conditions, there are still some steps that could be taken towards improving the medical condition of these patients and preventing an early death due to Pulmonary fibrosis.

It has been considered[5] that an early diagnosis and a proper treatment plan can do a lot for these patients in their battle against Pulmonary fibrosis. A pharmacological approach seems to achieve the best results for the Rheumatoid arthritis patients with a co-existing Pulmonary fibrosis.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients with a co-existing Pulmonary fibrosis

According to a study[6] published in the Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive and cytotoxic medications have shown the best results. Other than a pharmacological approach, other steps are to be considered as well such as lifestyle changes, exercising, oxygen therapy etc.

What it is to remember from this article are the symptoms and signs of Pulmonary fibrosis that you need to watch out for if you are suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis at the same time as well, especially if you have a family history of Pulmonary fibrosis.


The purpose of this article is to make the link between Rheumatoid arthritis and Pulmonary fibrosis as clear as it is possible, using the information that is available on this topic taking in consideration that the researchers are still not able to fully explain this link.

As we explained before, Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease whose causes are still unknown. It is a disease of which no cure is found and whose symptoms are hard to live with. On the other hand, Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that progresses with time and leads to the development of lung tissue damage and breathing difficulties for the patient.

It is also a condition for which no cure is available. Unfortunately, at least 40% of the Rheumatoid arthritis patients get affected by Pulmonary fibrosis as well which gradually decreases their lifetime since it leads to an early death.

Although the link is still unclear on how Rheumatoid arthritis leads to Pulmonary fibrosis, there are suspicions that it is perhaps the inflammation that develops due to Rheumatoid arthritis that increases the chances for Pulmonary fibrosis.

Please do remember to consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of the previously mentioned Pulmonary fibrosis symptoms in order to increase your chances of improving your medical condition in time.

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Contributor : Janice (Joint Health Magazine)

Janice Carson is a freelance journalist who specializes in Joint health issues and provides treatments and solutions to the sufferers. She is having medical writing experience of many years. She is contributing her work to jointhealthmagazine.com.

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