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How Stopping Smoking Can Help Your Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are many compelling reasons to stop smoking with which you are most likely familiar, including lower risks of various cancers, strokes, and heart disease and less financial strain because you would no longer depend on expensive cigarettes to get you through the day. On top of those reasons, we at the Arthritis, Rheumatic, & Back Disease Associates (ARBDA) can add another reason, backed by medical research, for our patients to stop smoking: smoking can make your day-to-day struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) even worse.

Below we have compiled a few points about how smoking can affect your RA and the benefits for your RA and your overall health which are associated with smoking cessation.

Smoking Can Worsen Your RA Symptoms

Smoking is already a known cause of inflammation in smokers, so, when your rheumatoid arthritis is marked by the inflammation that causes swelling, stiffness, and tenderness of the joints, smoking can only work against you. Studies have proven that smoking can exacerbate RA disease activity and symptoms, while reducing smoking can lead to a lower level of disease activity and a higher chance of disease remission.

Smoking Can Render RA Medications Less Effective

If worsening symptoms weren’t enough to incentivize smoking cessation, the fact that RA medications could become less effective to treat those symptoms due to smoking should give everyone pause. According to multiple medical publications, associations have been drawn between smoking history and poor response to RA medications, resulting in the unfortunate conclusion that some RA medications may not work as well as they should if you are a smoker. Another effect of these findings is that smokers may need more RA medication, putting them more at risk of treatment side effects.

Smoking Can Increase Chances of Developing Other Serious Diseases

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are already more susceptible to developing medical conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain lung diseases; in fact, RA on its own can double patients’ risk of having a heart attack. Therefore, smoking, which is widely known to promote heart disease and other serious conditions, can only increase the risk of developing these frequently fatal complications.

When it comes to deciding whether or not you should stop smoking, the correct decision is always to stop. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But, if you’re already fighting with rheumatoid arthritis every day, the reasons we have elaborated on above should be strong motivators for you to start you on the path to quitting. We at the ARBDA are proud to provide excellent RA infusion treatments for patients throughout New Jersey, and our team of experienced physicians, registered nurses, and support staff is prepared to help you quit smoking and receive the proper care you deserve. Give us a call today at one of our locations to set up an appointment!

Reference: Arthritis, Rheumatic, & Back Disease Associates. Important Reasons to Quit. Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): How Quitting Smoking Can Help

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