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Protect Yourself

If you're concerned about how RA affects your body, you can do a lot to lower your risks.

  • Take your meds. Remember: RA treatment -- with DMARDs -- will help your joints and slow the progression of RA.
  • See your rheumatologist. If you're not already seeing an RA doctor, schedule a visit. Medical problems are more likely if your disease is severe or not treated. With regular check-ups and screening, your RA doctor can catch problems before they become serious.
  • Watch for infections. See your doctor at the first sign of an infection. If you delay, your symptoms may be much harder to treat.
  • Protect your heart. Like anyone at risk for heart disease, you should stick to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Get advice from your doctor. But a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not smoking are all important.
  • Get your vaccines. Since you have a higher risk of infection, protect yourself. Ask your doctor about vaccines for flu, pneumonia, pertussis, and shingles.
  • See other specialists. You may need the help of other experts. To prevent eye problems, see an eye doctor once a year. You may need bone density tests and screenings by a skin or heart doctor. If you think you might be depressed, see a mental health counselor or therapist as soon as you can.
  • Stay upbeat. When you have RA, it's easy to worry. Just remember that your overall risk of other problems is low. You can treat and prevent most of them.

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