Characterized by abnormal functioning of the lungs, rheumatoid lung disease is related to rheumatoid arthritis. Here is a brief overview about this medical condition.
Rheumatoid lung disease is a set of lung problems related to rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints). This lung disease includes conditions, like pulmonary fibrosis, high blood pressure in the lungs, lung nodules (mostly benign), fluid accumulation in the chest (pleural effusions), and respiratory infections. It has also been observed that some rheumatoid arthritis patients are affected with lung cancer.
Though there is no specific reason for this disease to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis; it is said that, medication used for treating the latter may result in the former. Symptoms of rheumatoid lung disease include cough, fever, chest pain, and breathing trouble. These are in addition to the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, like skin nodules, joint swelling, joint pain, and joint stiffness.
This disease can be diagnosed through various laboratory tests, like X-ray and CT scan. Sometimes, echocardiogram is also done, to find out the blood pressure variation in the lungs. Sometimes, bronchoscopic or open lung biopsy is preferred. In such cases, a small part of the lung tissue is removed through surgery, and is tested for any lung disease, infection, or cancer.
Another test called ‘thoracentesis’ is also performed, to remove the fluid accumulated in the chest. This is done by inserting a needle in the space between the outer layer of the lungs and the wall of the chest. This test is conducted either to find out the reason for fluid accumulation or to provide relief to the patient. Even a regular checkup with a stethoscope can detect some crackling sounds in the chest.
Treatment is mainly focused on the underlying disorder, and the complications arising out of that disorder. Immunosuppressive therapies (involves an act that reduces activation of the immune system and is used to treat autoimmune diseases), and corticosteroids are found to be useful in some cases.
Rheumatoid arthritis is common in women, but rheumatoid lung disease is prevalent in men. Almost 30 to 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis suffer from abnormalities in the functioning of lungs. Apart from rheumatoid arthritis, smoking also plays an important role in aggravating this lung disease.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.