What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
An Inflammatory, Autoimmune Disease
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It can cause mild to severe symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis not only affects the joints, but may also attack tissue in the skin, lungs, eyes, and blood vessels. People with rheumatoid arthritis may feel sick, tired, and sometimes feverish.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect.
Rheumatoid arthritis generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern. This means that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one is, too. It can occur at any age, but usually begins during a person's most productive years.
Affects More Women Than Men
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.
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