Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?

What can rheumatoid-associated arthritis do to your lungs?

Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a condition that affects the joints. However, it can also cause lung disease. Sometimes, lung problems can develop before the joint inflammation or pain of rheumatoidarthritis.

Rheumatoid-related lung disease is more common in men aged 50-65 who are more active with rheumatoid and have a history of smoking.

Lung problems that are most commonly linked to rheumatoidarthritis include:

  • Scarring in the lungs.Interstitial lung disease (long-term inflammation) can cause scarring. This may include shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, weakness, and loss appetite.
  • Lung nodules.Rheumatoid nodules can cause small lumps in the lungs. Lung nodules are not usually associated with any symptoms and don’t pose a threat of developing lung cancer. However, in some cases, a nodule may rupture and lead to a collapsed lungs.
  • Pleural disease.Inflammation can occur in the tissue around the lungs (pleura, PLOOR-uh). A buildup of fluid between the two layers of the Pleura can lead to pleural inflammation. Sometimes, the fluid will clear up on its own. However, a large pleural effusion can lead to shortness of breath. A pleural disease can also lead to fever and discomfort while breathing.
  • Occlusion of small airwaysChronic inflammation and infection can cause the walls of the small airways of the lungs to thicken (bronchiectasis), or they can become inflamed (bronchiolitis). The lungs may become clogged with mucus, which can lead to shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, and weakness.

If you are suffering from rheumatoid or other forms of rheumatoid, consult your doctor immediately. Sometimes, treatment is directed at rheumatoid. Other cases may involve medication to suppress the immune response or a procedure that removes fluid around the lungs.


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