What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Causes, symptoms, treatment

What is rheumatoid arthritis? 

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a chronic autoimmune condition where their immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in their body, leading to inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body. This disease commonly affects the hands, knees or ankles, and usually the same joint on both sides of the body. Sometimes, other parts of the body (eyes, heart, and circulatory system and/or lung) can be affected as well. 

Causes

In a healthy body, the immune system will attack bacteria, viruses to fight infection. However, with rheumatoid arthritis, healthy cells that line your joints are attacked, which causes the joints to become swollen, stiff, and painful. Unfortunately, doctors do not yet know the exact reason behind RA. There are some possible factors that may put you at higher risk of having this chronic disease:

  • Female
  • Family history with RA
  • Smoking

Symptoms

What is rheumatoid arthritis like? At the early stage, patients may experience tenderness and pain, not visible redness or swelling in the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently regardless of age, gender.

Pay attention to some warning signs of RA such as:

  • Joint pain, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness that lasts for six weeks or longer.
  • Small joints (wrists, certain joints in the hands and feet) are typically affected first.
  • The same joints on both sides of the body are affected.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently regardless of age, gender. Let’s break down the mindset that someone is “too young to have arthritis” as it may hurt their feelings. Avoiding what NOT to say to people living with RA is important because your words, even coming with good intentions, may hurt them. 

When to get medical advice

If you suspect that you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, contact a general practitioner (GP) as soon as possible so that they can try to identify the underlying cause. The sooner rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed, the more likely your condition can be prevented from getting worse or from the risk of joint damage.

Treatment

Not so great news, rheumatoid arthritis is incurable. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help patients to enjoy their life to the fullest possible and continue their daily activities and work. 

Take your pill consistently, every day.

Several options of treatment include:

  • Long-term medication: relieve symptoms and slow down the condition
  • Supportive treatments: for example, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to support your daily activities in case of having any problems.
  • Surgery: to fix any new or existing joint problems.

In terms of taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis, it is vital to stay consistent, which means taking your pill every day at the same time. This routine will help keep your condition under control, reduce flares, and make your life somewhat easier. There is no doubt that many solutions for remembering medication are available, from the humble smartphone alarm to a smart pill tracker. Please keep in mind that seeking help from a professional health advisor or doctor is super important when your condition is worsening or if you miss your pill. 

Popit collaborates with Pfizer to improve the adherence of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. After studying rheumatoid arthritis patients’ treatment journey, Pfizer discovered that they do not receive sufficient support in order to cope with the condition. Therefore, this collaboration targets encouraging the patient’s medication treatment and gives them less stress about forgetting their pill. Popit Smart Pill Reminder can be purchased here; Popit App, delivery fee are all included. 

Resource:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/

https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/rheumatoid-arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What NOT to say to someone who lives with it

If you know someone who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, you may try to offer help or sympathize.  However, before making a comment or saying something about their condition, you better avoid these phrases as they may sound offensive or judgemental to them. 

“You are too young to have Rheumatoid Arthritis”

Theoretically, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakes healthy tissues and attacks them. Many people may think RA is similar to Osteoarthritis. However, Osteoarthritis is not caused by the same factor and more about the “wear and tear” of the joint by time, commonly found in elder people. 

RA can be found in women, men, and children of all ages, affecting hands, shoulders, knees, and/or feet with severe joint pain and stiffness. In short, RA is not a discriminatory disease. 

“You don’t look sick”

Rheumatoid Arthritis is usually described as an “invisible” illness. This chronic illness is, unfortunately, not curable. Patients can experience periods of remission with little pain or RA can flare up with no warning or reason. Many times it can be super painful to simply get out of bed or tie the shoes. Many times, people living with arthritis can be mistaken for being “better” although, in fact, they only feel less miserable or painful in their joints. 

“I think you will get better”

As explained above, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an ongoing condition, there are just days with either severe or less pain. Although this phrase has good intentions and people tend to use it when someone feels unwell or in pain, the other person may find it unsympathetic. Try offering some help if they need it.

“Be on a diet and lose weight, it will help”

Let’s be straightforward, losing weight does not eventually help to cure Rheumatoid Arthritis. If someone having RA is overweight or obese, losing weight might only reduce some stressed weight on the joint or make them feel a bit better generally. However, it does not cure this autoimmune disease. 

“Oh, my knee is hurting too”

RA patients often deal with joint pain and fatigue and do not mention much about it unless it is so bad or beginning to disable them. If they tell you they are in pain, they are not exaggerating. However, assuming that you are going through the same even though you are not diagnosed with RA is indirectly dismissing their pain. In other words, you make them feel weak or foolish when they mention their struggle. 

In order to show that you acknowledge the other person’s pain, ask if you can help them with anything. By doing that, you also show how much you care and are willing to help if you can. 

“You can’t do this, you will be in pain”

Having arthritis does make it difficult for patients to perform many activities. However, it may upset them if people try to completely prevent them from doing even simple things. They are in pain, but their body still can function and no one wants to be left out just because of their illness. 

In this case, ask them: “Do you feel up to doing ___ today?” instead of assuming that they cannot do it. 

“Have you tried yoga?”

One of the most common misconceptions is that yoga is good for everyone with RA because it includes stretching. It may work for some, but not everyone. They don’t have weak joints, the root of the problem is in their blood and it attacks the joints. Therefore, putting lots of weight on inflamed joints, whether it is in the wrist, knee, or shoulder, etc., is not helping at all. 

 

So, how can you offer help?

Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, your close ones will experience physical pain and it will impact their lifestyle, mental health a lot. However, there are several ways that you can do to help them reduce inflammation, for example, planning suitable exercises together (such as yoga, light stretches, aerobic, etc.), stress-reduction activities (eg. meditation), reminding them to take medication on time or suggest them to use smart pill reminder to always remember their meds and reduce inflammation. 

 

Popit collaborates with Pfizer to improve the adherence of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. After studying rheumatoid arthritis patients’ treatment journey, Pfizer discovered that they do not receive sufficient support in order to cope with the condition. Therefore, this collaboration targets encouraging the patient’s medication treatment and gives them less stress about forgetting their pill. Popit Smart Pill Reminder can be purchased here; Popit App, delivery fee are all included.

 

Resource: Healthline, Creakyjoint 

Pill reminders – Can they help you take your pills on time?

Pill reminder and pill-tracking app is the new mantra used by researchers to improve medication adherence in patients.

A 2016 poll conducted by Popit Research Labs showed that around 40% of voters relied on their memory to track their pill usage while almost 60% used some form of external pill reminder. Also, multiple studies are suggesting the rise in medication non-adherence due to forgetfulness. There is clearly a need for an external source to keep track of one’s medication usage.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Do pill reminders work?

With the rise in pill reminder solutions, the first question that pops into your mind is – Do pill reminders actually help? Can they help you take your medications on time?

According to a randomised clinical trial done in 2018, to check the impact of medication reminder apps to improve medication adherence in a Coronary Heart Disease study, adherence improvement for app users seemed to be ~7.2%. It was concluded that patients who used medication reminder apps had better medication adherence compared to those with usual care.

A study by Cochrane on interventions for medication adherence in the elderly concluded that behavioural and educational interventions along with the aid of simple strategies such as using pill reminders may lead to greater satisfaction in medication management in the elderly.

In a poll conducted by Popit, almost 50% of the users confirmed they have some kind of reminders for pills and they find these useful in tracking their pills for birth control. In a clinical pilot together with a leading university hospital, their pill reminder solution was able to reduce missed pills by over 80% and help build a solid routine around pill-taking.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.
Popit Research Labs, 2016

Which is the most effective pill reminder?

With the internet being flooded with various pill reminders apps and medication trackers, how do you know if these are effective or not?  Does it really make sense to invest in one? If yes, then which one?

Pill dispensers are cheap, but using a pill dispenser is more or less relying on your memory. On the other hand, smartphone alarms are free, but most people end up ignoring these alarms as constant notifications can get annoying after a while.

A smart sensing device could be another option that you can rely on. This is the world’s first and only tracker for a pill blister that comes with built-in sensors. It can sense when you pop a pill off the blister and notifies you only when you miss a pill. Which means, if you take the pill, you don’t get the daily annoying reminders. Also, there is no manual input needed to keep a track of your pill usage.

We compiled a comparison chart so you can evaluate which solution is best for you.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Pill Reminders

How do pill reminders help?

Medication cannot work as intended if it is not taken as prescribed. Consistency and taking pills according to guidance play a key role in any treatment.

Some of the cases where pill reminders have proven to be beneficial include:

1. Avoiding unwanted pregnancy

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

The risk of pregnancy with a typical birth control pill use is 9% and the pill is 99% efficient only when used perfectly.

By perfect use, it means you have to take the pill every day without fail. You must also take it at the same time day after day. In a recent survey conducted by Popit, more than 1 in 12 women on the pill may have experienced an unintended pregnancy due to missing a pill.

2. Medication adherence in chronic health conditions

Medication non-adherence in chronic health conditions is a recognized public health problem. According to a study conducted by NCBI on unintentional non-adherence of prescribed medication, more than 60% of the test group forgot to take their pills on time.

3. Improved parental or caregiver medication adherence

To keep a track of someone’s medication is more challenging than managing one’s own treatment. You can easily manage this when you have an app that can notify you whenever they miss their pills.

4. Adherence in research

Patients not adhering to medications in research is one of the factors that makes medication development so expensive, and as a result, the prices so high. Taking medications correctly is essential and adherence in research enables a successful study.

So, do you need one?

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Evolution of pill reminders

From the humble reminders such as markings on a calendar to smart sensing devices, pill reminders have evolved over the years. This also confirms the need for an external source to track pill usage apart from relying on one’s memory. Multiple studies are also supporting this claim saying it could be one of the ways to improve adherence in patients.

Pill reminder solutions are usually a one time purchase and cost less than a good pair of sneakers. They are the most reliable alternative to ensuring you take your medicines on time and stay on track. These can also be a thoughtful gift for your loved ones. For, after all, there is no greater gift that you can give or receive than to stay healthy or investing in the good health of your loved ones.

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