Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the body's own tissues. This is the cause of the prevalent swelling and discomfort associated with the disease. RA usually also presents with warmth in the joints, and stiffness that is more severe in the morning or after strenuous activity. There may also be swelling present in other parts of the body, which can cause a range of body-wide symptoms.
But what are Rheumatoid Arthritis causes? What causes the immune system to react against it's own body? Today we will take a look at these answers.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes Unknown
Unfortunately, the exact cause of RA is not known. Scientists and medical experts are often at a loss for the causes of many autoimmune disease, so this is not a rare occurrence. The medical community has, however, determined some factors which make an individual either more prone to develop RA, or else to have a more severe form of the disease were they to develop it.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes – Possibilities
Genetics may play a substantial role in determining whether a person will develop Rheumatoid Arthritis. One genetic marker, in particular, has been found in large quantities of the population of RA patients. This genetic marker, named HLA or human leukocyte antigen, plays a role in the way your immune system works. HLA does not appear to cause the disease, but rather, make it worse once developed.
Two other genetic markers (HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DR4) have also been shown in significant amounts of RA patients, although scientists are not entirely sure what their exact role in the disease is.
Infections have also been pinpointed as a possible cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no concrete evidence has yet been determined. Many RA sufferers have excessive amounts of the bacteria E. Coli in their synovial fluid. This is not thought to be a primary cause, but scientists believe this E. Coli may play a role in prolonging the immune response, which causes the severity of the disease to quickly escalate.
There are several potential candidates for cause and/or increase of severity in terms of viruses. None of these are positive, but research is being conducted to determine what their roles in the disease may be. Highlighted viruses or infections include: mycoplasma, paravirus B19, retroviruses, mycobacteria, and Epstein-Barr virus.
Known Risk Factors For RA
While it is still not certain what Rheumatoid Arthritis causes are, specifically, there are a few things which have been pinpointed as increasing a person's risk of developing the disease. Being a woman is at the top of the list, as around 70% of all documented cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis occur in women.
Lifestyle and diet have also been indicators for developing or worsening the disease, include gluten and dairy sensitivies as both can cause additional inflammation in the body.
Although RA can appear at any age, including in children, it commonly appears in people between the age of 30 and 50. A family history of RA or other rheumatic disorders puts a person at a higher risk, as does a history of heavy smoking. Women who have never been pregnant, or who have just given birth, are at a higher risk than other women.