The thing most people do not understand is all the OTHER body parts affected by Rheumatoid Disease. [Arthritis is only one symptom of this condition, hence the gradual shift to calling it “Rheumatoid Disease.” Here is a non-inclusive list:
Lungs – affect the membrane lining the lungs, leading to pleuritis and fluid collection; rheumatoid nodules can form in the lungs, also.
Reduction in red blood cells = anemia.
Treatment to suppress the immune system may lead to low levels of blood platelets, a condition called thrombocytopenia.
Felty’s syndrome, a condition in which the spleen is enlarged and the white blood cell count is low in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Having Felty’s syndrome may increase the risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands.
Rheumatoid nodules under the skin occur in 20% of patients with Rheumatoid Disease. These can occur on elbows, forearms, fingers or heels.
These nodules can occur in the heart and lungs, also. In the lungs this can lead to hemorrhage.
Rashes of the skin
In the eyes, uveitis, iritis, scleritis and episcleritis can affect vision and eye comfort.
People with Rheumatoid Disease are also susceptible to developing Sjogren’s Syndrome which leads to extreme dry eye and dry mouth.
A collection of fluid between the outer membranes of the heart and the heart muscle itself – pericardial effusion. This is life-threatening!
Pericarditis – inflammation of the membranes around the heart – is life-threatening!
We who have Rheumatoid Disease are at increased risk of heart attacks just as people with type-2 diabetes are. We are also at increased risk of stroke. This is because inflammation of the blood vessels – both veins and arteries – can occur in about 15% of patients with Rheumatoid Disease.
WebMD has lots more information and much more detail than I included here. The thing to remember is, nearly any part of your body can be affected by Rheumatoid Disease with resultant symptoms which depend upon the part of the body affected.