what is rheumatoid arthritis?

RA Lung: What Is It?

Brad Health Guide November 12, 2012
  • If you have had RA for any length of time and did research on it online, you have undoubtedly seen a link for the term RA Lung. I know I have seen it many times, and breezed right past it. I believe I had clicked on it once as I know it refers to RA affecting the lungs, and is not extremely uncommon....

20 Comments
  • Carrie Beth Brown
    Health Guide
    Nov. 12, 2012

    Hi Brad,

     

    Thanks for sharing your story and info on RA lung. I have chronic asthma too and have spent the last few months on and off medrol packs to keep it calm as well as taking Symbicort up to 4x a day to keep it controlled. I had shown some "ground-glass opacity" in a CT scan done for my abdomen but it was caught at the bottom of the lungs that were...

    RHMLucky777

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    Hi Brad,

     

    Thanks for sharing your story and info on RA lung. I have chronic asthma too and have spent the last few months on and off medrol packs to keep it calm as well as taking Symbicort up to 4x a day to keep it controlled. I had shown some "ground-glass opacity" in a CT scan done for my abdomen but it was caught at the bottom of the lungs that were part of the CT scan. I ended up spending almost the entire month of June in bed from an extremely bad case of gastroentieritis and a live flare which gave me a nasty case of pneumonia. The xrays confirmed the pneumonia but there were also some other things that showed up that weren't normal again. They waited until after my pneumonia was cleared to do another xray and they are still seeing some signs of scarring and inflammation as well as the "groound-glass opacity", so I'm supposed to get scheduled for a CAT scan in the near future and have things checked out. The possibility of RA lung was mentioned and to be honest, I'm just not sure if I can handle yet another diagnosis that relates to RA. But having read your article, I realize now that I should make it a priority to get it checked out. We deal with so many things when we get an autoimmune disease... it seems like the medical problems never stop. Good luck to you on your continued health with your lungs and your RA and thanks again for sharing.  :)

     

    Carrie Beth

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 13, 2012

      Carrie Beth,

      I hope you dont have RA lung, but you are smart to get it checked! Let us know what you find out. I know what you mean about added DXs, but we keep plugging along! No one can say we are not strong people! :)

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Nov. 13, 2012
      I hope I don't have it either but the "ground-glas opacity" is usually a sign of inflammation/scarring and part of RA lung I guess from what my doc says...so we'll see. Whatever come my way, I'll add it to my list and handle it just like I do everything, first through tears, then buck up and get back on with life to the best of my abilities. :) Will be keeping...
      RHMLucky777
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      I hope I don't have it either but the "ground-glas opacity" is usually a sign of inflammation/scarring and part of RA lung I guess from what my doc says...so we'll see. Whatever come my way, I'll add it to my list and handle it just like I do everything, first through tears, then buck up and get back on with life to the best of my abilities. :) Will be keeping you in my prayers that your lungs stay healthy over time too and don't worsen.
  • pat
    pat
    Aug. 15, 2014

    Just a thank you for your article.  Just got the call that the pre-op chest xray (for my left knee replacement) showed a nodule.  CT scan next Thursday...so I have to wait almost a week for my results, but I feel better now after reading your article.  Thing is, I have no nodules elsewhere.  

     

    I always turn to this site when something...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Just a thank you for your article.  Just got the call that the pre-op chest xray (for my left knee replacement) showed a nodule.  CT scan next Thursday...so I have to wait almost a week for my results, but I feel better now after reading your article.  Thing is, I have no nodules elsewhere.  

     

    I always turn to this site when something new appears, as you all are veterans of this dx and I appreciate your experiences and wealth of knowledge.

     

    God bless u all.

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Aug. 18, 2014

      This is a great place for info, Pat! Thank you for the kind words. Please let us know how your tests and knee replacement go. You are in my prayers. 

       

      Brad

  • Laurie
    Nov. 20, 2012

    Thanks Brad for your article - it helps me just now very much.  I'll follow your line for a long time now, like I do Lene, as you two seem to have more in common with me - force retired at 59 due to aggressive RA, living on SSDI after having 3 times that as income is tough in itself to adjust to, and being set aside by friends cause I can't participate...

    RHMLucky777

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    Thanks Brad for your article - it helps me just now very much.  I'll follow your line for a long time now, like I do Lene, as you two seem to have more in common with me - force retired at 59 due to aggressive RA, living on SSDI after having 3 times that as income is tough in itself to adjust to, and being set aside by friends cause I can't participate in activities that were daily/weekly happenings.  We were all outdoor adrenaline junkies, hiking & kayaking more more etc.... and of course I can't do any of that now.  And mine was fast onset, within a 3 week time period I was hiking 9 miles on the very cliffs above the ocean and then was on a walker, seems like over night in late 2009.  I've still not adjusted back into hobbies except gardening, and I live in rainy Oregon, so that's timed with the weather.  Sounds like I'm whining.  Sorry about that.  I do want my old life back - not going to happen.  Now I have heart and lung disease due to the biologics, according to the hospital I was recently confined to.  I need to force one of my doctors to do a CT for more definition.  My new primary doc is an old goat, not interested in further tests.  I'm on a waiting list for a specific doctor but it will be a year yet before my name comes up.   It's the old goat or none as my very loved primary moved overseas in July.  That's who I am for today.  I'm not taking anything for the RA except pain pills and tranquilizers and sometimes a cordisone shot.  I also have out-of-control Sjorgrens and a little lupus.  It's good for me to know others with Sjorgrens as well as RA.  Going off the Humira hasn't much effected the RA but speeded up the Sjorgrens.  Any suggestions?  How lucky you are to have your wife and kids, home life at the best.  I find doing nothing, alone=ness, very hard to take.

     

    Keep writing.... we all need your words...

    Laurie

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 21, 2012

      Hi Laurie,

      Thank you for the kind words. It is something how this awful disease affects everyone differently. I was very quick onset as well, went from running a store to early retirement and a wheelchair in the course of a few short months. One thing I take exception to....... YOU are NOT whining! We all need to vent from time to time, heck thats how I found...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi Laurie,

      Thank you for the kind words. It is something how this awful disease affects everyone differently. I was very quick onset as well, went from running a store to early retirement and a wheelchair in the course of a few short months. One thing I take exception to....... YOU are NOT whining! We all need to vent from time to time, heck thats how I found Lene! Or she found me, one or the other! It is always good to know you are not alone with all of this. And you are not! We are all here for you whenever you need us! I agree with Lene, RA is a systemic disease that can cause problems that can kill you, it just doesnt do it outright by itself. I was fairly certain I was going to die a few years ago in intesive care at a hospital. I was in for a Adrenal Crisis, caused by the heavy doses of Pred I had to take to try and beat the RA beast into submission. I have been fortunate to have a PCP and a Rheumy who invest time in checking out my lungs, liver, heart, bone health etc. That is how we discovered the RA Lung. 

       

      Lene is 100% correct on advocating for yourself as well. Sorry you have to wait for the new PCP, in the meanwhile, I would push "the old goat" for tests, etc. Remember you are the customer at his office. 

       

      As far as hobbies, I do woodwork as my hands allow and have taken up acrylic painting as well, which I really enjoy! Check out your local Michaels, AC Moore or Hobby Lobby, they offer classes on different hobbies, and you wont have to wait on the weather! :) 

       

      So glad to meet you on here! Keep in touch, we can all help each other through this mess! 

       

      Brad

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 21, 2012

      Forgot! I also take Salagen (rx) for my Sjogrens, as well as gel eye drops and use Biotene wash for my mouth. They may help you as well! The Gel Drops are REALLY helpful, I just get them OTC at Walmart and use them whenever my eyes are scratchy. 

  • Rena
    Nov. 18, 2012

    Great post Brad.  I am so glad this was not cancer.  As if you need another medical issue to deal with.  Keep posting and take care of yourself.  :)

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 19, 2012

      Thank you Rena. We could all use a break on the medical front! 

  • V
    V
    Health Guide
    Nov. 15, 2012

    Hi, Brad,

     

    I am sorry you had to go thru all of this, but once again, you have taken your experience and shared it with our Ra community to help others.  I wish you didn't have RA lung, but I am glad it isn't something even worse.  I read an article somewhere that said docs think RA lung is much more common than previously thought.  That...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi, Brad,

     

    I am sorry you had to go thru all of this, but once again, you have taken your experience and shared it with our Ra community to help others.  I wish you didn't have RA lung, but I am glad it isn't something even worse.  I read an article somewhere that said docs think RA lung is much more common than previously thought.  That may very well be.  Take care of yourself, and keep writing, Brad.  Cool

     

    Blessings,

    V

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 16, 2012

      Thank you V. One of the articles I read said if everyone with Auto Immune disease was checked, it may be as high as 50% with it! 

  • Ellen Galo
    Nov. 15, 2012

    Hi Brad,

    When I saw your title, I had to read the post. My grandmother had RA very badly (not to mention my aunt, and now both my cousin & I!).  On the tapes that she and my grandfather made for all of us on their family history, I can hear my grandmother PANTING in teh background the whole time (6 cassettes, now made into 4 CDs thanks to my husband...).  ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi Brad,

    When I saw your title, I had to read the post. My grandmother had RA very badly (not to mention my aunt, and now both my cousin & I!).  On the tapes that she and my grandfather made for all of us on their family history, I can hear my grandmother PANTING in teh background the whole time (6 cassettes, now made into 4 CDs thanks to my husband...).   I had read about pulmonary fibrosis (I believe it's the scarring that you mention) and interstitial lung disease (because I'm trying to figure out why I have asthma - my doctor was surprised that I'd never had any problem growing up, and says this is unusual).  But - RA does explain a lot - my GE doc is always saying how RA can inflame ANY PART of the body - including the liver, etc.  I don't have an official COPD diagnosis at this point, "just" asthma and a strong tendence to develop bronchitis with the least cold --it got very bad last fall, and I have tried to be more careful this fall (like not try to cut back on the use of the steroid inhaler,just because I'm gaining weight!) and have avoided any days off due to that.  (Well, I had my 'week of pred' at the beginning of Sept when I crashed.)

         Non-RA people see us as having so many problems - and we do - but so much of it DOES relate to the RA, or is made worse by it. So - like you, I'd rather be in the know, than guessing!

        

    • Brad
      Health Guide
      Nov. 16, 2012

      Thanks for the info Ellen. I agree, I would rather know, than not know! That is the scarrying I was talking about as well as scarring from Pnuemonia as well. I have struggled with Asthma since I was a kid, and my PCP now says its "Very much so like COPD and needs to be treated that way". I use a rescue inhaler and a nebulizer as well now. Hope you get some...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thanks for the info Ellen. I agree, I would rather know, than not know! That is the scarrying I was talking about as well as scarring from Pnuemonia as well. I have struggled with Asthma since I was a kid, and my PCP now says its "Very much so like COPD and needs to be treated that way". I use a rescue inhaler and a nebulizer as well now. Hope you get some answers as well! 

    • Ellen Galo
      Nov. 16, 2012

      Thank you, I was at my rheum doctor's yesterday (finally, after trying to get in for 3 weeks!) and he always seems to take EXTRA time to listen to my lungs, but he says he doesn't hear much.  He did say, that if I haven't had an xray in the last 6 months, to get one (gave me a script).

      Ya da ya da, at least it's Friday and I can look forward to having...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thank you, I was at my rheum doctor's yesterday (finally, after trying to get in for 3 weeks!) and he always seems to take EXTRA time to listen to my lungs, but he says he doesn't hear much.  He did say, that if I haven't had an xray in the last 6 months, to get one (gave me a script).

      Ya da ya da, at least it's Friday and I can look forward to having next week off!

       

      Good luck to you too!

       

  • Lene  Andersen
    Health Guide
    Nov. 13, 2012

    thank you so much for this post, Brad. The next time I see my GP, I'm asking for a lung x-ray!

     

    I've had pneumonia a couple of times and when I was 12, I had fluid in my lungs, as well as the RA attacking my heart and liver. Wasn't fun, almost killed me. it's amazing how this disease affects all of you - you'd think it'd be enough that it wreaks havoc...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    thank you so much for this post, Brad. The next time I see my GP, I'm asking for a lung x-ray!

     

    I've had pneumonia a couple of times and when I was 12, I had fluid in my lungs, as well as the RA attacking my heart and liver. Wasn't fun, almost killed me. it's amazing how this disease affects all of you - you'd think it'd be enough that it wreaks havoc on our joints, but no. RA, the overachiever!

     

    I was very glad to hear that you "just" have RA nodules in your lung. Your rheumie's on top of it and it sounds as if you're moving on.

    • Laurie
      Nov. 20, 2012

      Hi Lene

      Until I was under the gun, so to speak, I didn't know RA effected major organs.  I thought it was strictly a joint disease.  And by now I feel lied to, as I believe my rheumie that I so much trust should have told me the progression of RA - joints, long bones, major organs.  and the difference between RA and aggressive RA.  RA takes...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi Lene

      Until I was under the gun, so to speak, I didn't know RA effected major organs.  I thought it was strictly a joint disease.  And by now I feel lied to, as I believe my rheumie that I so much trust should have told me the progression of RA - joints, long bones, major organs.  and the difference between RA and aggressive RA.  RA takes 30 years to kill ya, but aggressive RA takes 3-5 yrs.  I had an episode with my fore arms, long bones, last year that I still wonder about and to doctors just yelled at me to cut back my activities w/o telling me WHY.  Now the heart/lung junk, major organs, has started.  It's scary Lene, especially to find out the hard way that the people I should trust most didn't fill in all the blanks, tell me the truth.  I'm glad I found this article by Brad and will follow his line for a long while like I do yours.  Talk more about when you were 12 and the RA got into your heart & liver..... just curious. 

      Laurie

    • Lene  Andersen
      Health Guide
      Nov. 20, 2012

      two things. First, I don't think the field has yet adjusted to RA being a systemic disease. None of the rheumatologists I've seen (and I've seen a few over the last 40 years) have ever paid much/any attention to that aspect of the disease. I just started the dialogue around these issues with my current rheumatologist (whom I adore). I've had more discussions...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      two things. First, I don't think the field has yet adjusted to RA being a systemic disease. None of the rheumatologists I've seen (and I've seen a few over the last 40 years) have ever paid much/any attention to that aspect of the disease. I just started the dialogue around these issues with my current rheumatologist (whom I adore). I've had more discussions with my GP about it because I see her more often. I think it's essential to educate yourself and to pursue getting baseline investigation of a number of things (by the way, see my post on preventative heart health care). That's the case with any medical condition - relying on a doctor you see once every three months to stay on top of it all won't get the job done. Like it or not, you're sort of the project manager for your health, your the only one who knows how you feel, the different doctors you see and the one with a vested interest in researching.

       

      Secondly... I understand that you're angry. Your body is putting you through some really rough times and you need doctors who are very invested in seeing you through them. Normally, RA in itself can affect your life expectancy and can make you very sick indeed. As for killing you in 3-5 years, though? I think that's  putting it in the same category as e.g., cancer and I don't think you can call RA a terminal disease in that same way. Complications of RA can make you so sick that you might die - it would be disingenuous of me to say otherwise, given that I almost did when I was 12. However, most of the time, that doesn't happen. Most chronic medical conditions (heart disease, RA, lupus, diabetes) have the potential to affect your life expectancy if left untreated and that's why it's so important to aggressively treat RA.Unfortunately sometimes, the treatment has some severe side effects, as well. It's a difficult balance.

       

      I don't remember much about what happened when I was 12. I remember having a very high fever, sleeping a lot, hallucinating, being very weak, getting a daily x-ray. Not much was known about JRA at the time - all I was told was that my disease went systemic, attacked my heart and I had a really bad pneumonia with fluid in the lungs. In those days, visiting hours were only a couple of hours a day and I heard later that the doctors told my parents they could be there as much as they wanted. Which is code for "your daughter might die." All my childhood medical records are in Denmark, so I can't get a hold of them to see. I think the important take away message from that experience was that I survived (thanks to high doses of prednisone) and went on to live a happy and productive life. I've had several other health crises, but gotten through them and went back to living my life. For me, that is the focus. Sometimes, RA (and its treatments) derails your life and you have to spend some time dealing with your health, but once you're through it, make sure you focus on making the best life you can. The reason you fight is because of everything else that is in your world.

       

      That got long and philosophical. If I didn't answer your questions, feel free to let me know. I've had a really busy week and my brain is kind of  mush. Wink

    • Laurie
      Nov. 20, 2012

      Thank you Lene - your reply is excellent.  I needed to read all that, especially today as I'm filled with RA pain and whatever was planned has been shelved for today at least.  You are 100% correct in saying rheumies don't think of RA as systemic, and finding out that it is, really opens my eyes.  I'll keep watching for you and Brad daily again...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thank you Lene - your reply is excellent.  I needed to read all that, especially today as I'm filled with RA pain and whatever was planned has been shelved for today at least.  You are 100% correct in saying rheumies don't think of RA as systemic, and finding out that it is, really opens my eyes.  I'll keep watching for you and Brad daily again until I'm back into my old skin and more out in the world again.

      Thanks so~!  Laurie

    • Lene  Andersen
      Health Guide
      Nov. 22, 2012

      you don't have to keep an eye out for us every day - if you click on our names, it will take you to our profiles where you can subscribe to our posts. We do have occasional problems with the subscription feature, so if you're on Facebook, you may also want to check out the RAHealthCentral Facebook page. We publish all team posts there. There're also other things...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      you don't have to keep an eye out for us every day - if you click on our names, it will take you to our profiles where you can subscribe to our posts. We do have occasional problems with the subscription feature, so if you're on Facebook, you may also want to check out the RAHealthCentral Facebook page. We publish all team posts there. There're also other things going on, such as community members chatting and our posts for the RA2day awareness campaign.

       

      I am sure that our community would love to hear more about your experience, so if you're up for it, please consider writing a SharePost. It may help someone else.

       

      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!