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What is connective tissue arthritis?

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Connective tissue arthritis is also known as rheumatoid arthritis, or RA. RA is one of the most common connective tissues diseases and is an autoimmune disease that is inherited. Those people with RA have immune systems that attack their bodies, inflaming the membranes around the joints; RA can affect the eyes, lungs and heart, too, and more women develop RA than men.

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Even though RA is mainly a disease that affects the joints, complications with the lungs can be quite serious for RA sufferers. When the lining of the lungs become inflamed, shortness of breath and painful breathing may occur. The inflammation can also cause accumulation of fluid in the lung and nodules on the lungs. The lungs may become scarred due to chronic inflammation, and fatigue, weakness, chronic cough and shortness of breath may result.

Medications that suppress the immune system can decrease the inflammation in the lungs and related symptoms. Medications used to treat RA symptoms include NSAIDs, including Advil and Aleve, steroids, such as prednisone, that reduce inflammation while slowing damage to the joints, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs like Plaquenil or Arava that slow the disease's progression and prevent permanent damage, notes Mayo Clinic.Treatment may also involve removing the fluid from the lungs.

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