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Do You Have More Than Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When you have RA, you're more likely to also have certain other conditions. You and your doctor can treat them. Use this list to know what symptoms to look for and why they happen. 

Anemia

If you have this condition, you don’t have enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Many people with RA have it, and it can be treated.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

People with anemia sometimes also have pale skin, brittle nails, cold hands and feet, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat.

Treatment: When someone with RA has anemia, the first step is to lower inflammation and get the RA under control. You may also need to take iron supplements if you're low on iron.

You can also get anemia due to blood loss. Some RA medications can irritate your stomach and cause blood loss. Your doctor will look for and treat the cause.

Heart Disease

People with RA are more likely than others to get heart disease or have a stroke. Doctors aren’t sure why that is. It may be related to inflammation.

Symptoms: Heart disease doesn't always show symptoms before a crisis (like a heart attack or stroke) happens. Your doctor can check on your cholesterol, blood pressure, and other risk factors.

Treatment: If you have heart disease, your doctor will talk with you about your diet, exercise, weight, and stress. If you smoke, quit. Your doctor can give you advice to help with that. She may also prescribe drugs that lower cholesterol or blood pressure.

Eye Problems: Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s affects the glands that make tears and saliva. It's related to inflammation.

Symptoms: For people with RA, the most common symptom of Sjogren's is dry eyes and mouth. It can also show up as dry skin, dry coughing, and vaginal dryness.

Treatment: Artificial tears are the top treatment for dry eyes. Some people may need special eye lubricants. Those with severe cases may need medications to tame the inflammation. People with rare cases need surgery to help preserve tears.

If you have dry mouth, sip water often. Suck on sugarless candies so your body will make more saliva. If your case is severe, you may need medicine for it.

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