Monday, May 28, 2012

In The Joint Part IV

In this post I will cover how ra can impact our eyes, sense of smell and taste, teeth, and jaw.  The ra impact journey is unveiled first with our eyes.

"My eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected." Author unknown.

If you have ra, you need to protect your eyes and know that, yes indeed, ra can impact them as well.  RA, being a systemic disease, does not exclude our eyes.  RA can cause dry eyes which is also a symptom of Sjogren's syndrome, inflammation of the interior of the eye known as uveitis,  episcleritis or inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye, scleritis or inflammation of the white part of the eye, glaucoma which can lead to blindness, and cataracts which causes clouding of the lens of the eye.

Please be sure to have your eyes checked yearly by an opthamologist which is an eye specialist.

Moomee agrees with me about the importance of your eyes...
Lookz intoz my eyez deeplyz. Iz haz youz underz myz spellz. 
Nowz go getz mez somez foodz!

Directly ra doesn't seem to have much impact on smell and taste but autoimmune diseases like sjogren's syndrome can definitely have an impact on taste.  In addition several of the medications that are prescribed for ra have side effects on both taste and smell.  So in my book, although it may not be ra directly impinging on our senses, ra is still the culprit.  Typical medications that can play havoc on these two senses are corticosteroids. (Note: in order to use this link, you will need to change the drop down selection at the left upper side of their chart and select corticosteroids) Although there is no "official" offering about corticosteroids impacting taste and smell, from personal experience I can attest to the fact that it does heighten both these senses. In addition, if one searches several of the other commonly prescribed medications (search under DMARDS on their chart), you will notice mouth sores listed for methotrexate.  In my humble opinion, if you are having difficulty with either of these senses, mention it to your ra doctor and also speak with your pharmacist to see if any of your current medications could be the culprit. Just because that specific side effect you personally are experiencing is not listed somewhere, does not in fact rule out that it is a side effect for you. And if you are experiencing a loss of  smell or taste, this link offers several tips on how to possibly improve them.

Personally I have spent a small fortune on attempting to keep my teeth in my mouth! Within the past two years alone, I have had three root canals and caps.  And of course, without dental insurance, the out of pocket expense is hefty.  Research has shown that patients with ra seem to experience a higher incidence of periodontal disease. It is pretty much common sense in my book. We have increased inflammation and therefore it just makes sense that we could be more prone to an inflammatory type of gum disease like periodontal disease. And as with our eyes, you should see a dentist regularly if you can afford it.  Also, those of us on corticosteroids need to be vigilant to ward off osteoporosis which can also negatively impact tooth health.

And last, the jaw can definitely be destroyed with ra.  The jaw being a joint has been known to not only  become painfully swollen with ra but can even lock in position making it very difficult to eat. offers a nice review of temporomandibular disorders (TMD).  I have been fortunate in that I have no experienced the pain of TMD but I have had several bouts with this problem in the past. I have found that cold and/or hot compresses have helped as well as blending my food or opting for soups. Chewing was out of the question.  My heart goes out to any of you out there that have any of the aforementioned problems that can be associated with ra.  No, this disease is not an easy one to endure but with some patience and alot of help from specialists, we can get through and persevere.

Arez youz kiddingz? Where'z the beefz? This dietz stinkz!

Further reading on In The Joint:
In The Joint
In The Joint Part II
In The Joint Part III


L."Wren" Vandever said...

Excellent post (and excellent photo of you at the top of the page, too), Deb!

It's wise to be aware of the many ways that RA can possibly affect us. I've been lucky thus far in that it hasn't touched my eyes, but I had bad flares in my jaw several times in years past. Those flares, which lasted for several days each time, were among the most frightening ones for me. I'd never thought of the jaw as having joints before that. It's scary not to be able to open your mouth more than a couple of millimeters or to chew. I wonder if I might not have been so scared if I'd known more about RA at the time?

This three-post series has been really informative and helpful, Deb. Thanks for writing them and sharing them with all of us.

Candee said...

Hey Deb
you look great! I just experienced the lockjaw, while sleeping last week. the pain was excrutiaing - it spread above and around my ear -I never knew such pain.
As always, you hit the target in your wonderful blogs. hugs my friend.

knittingyoyo said...

I found out about how RA affects the eyes a couple of years ago. I was having very bad dryness, pain and blurry vision that would progress as the day went on. Fortunately I have been able to curtail those issues with eyedrops for now. Before that I had no idea how RA could cause eye issues.

adrienne said...

What a great post Deb! Both you and Moomee look fantastic! This was an informative post with a funny twist. Love it!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said... glad you are enjoying these posts. I figure by the time I work my way through my joints and the other areas ra can impact, I will be like up to Part! But sad to say, the truth must get out there about what ra really is and the fact that it isn't just the joints that ra can impact. you doing? That jaw thing is the worst! I love food and when my was so painful well I was just miserable. Who can eat chocolate with such pain? Who can crunch of healthy food like raw veggies, etc. etc. Yup, one of the worst areas in my opinion.

Knittinyoyo...why in the world don't ra docs give us a heads up on possibilities? I know we don't want this long list of what ifs but really, we should have some clue of what might happen to us and what to watch out for. Eye issues can become severe in short order and some can cause permanent damage...nothing to play with in book.

Adrienne...Poor Moomee. Just got back from the vet recently and she has gained two more pounds while her sister lost 2 pounds. I can't seem to figure out how to get her to take off a few pounds. My heart feels for her. That is why I bought the wheat grass. I figure if humans can chew of greens and reduce their weight...maybe she will too :-)

Anonymous said...

What an informative and so truthful post. Let's see what my RA has done to me.

1. Eyes-just diagnosed a few weeks ago with inflamed blood vessels that were also in my eyes. Hello blurry vision!

2. Taste/Smell-People assume I'm pregnant when I smell the oddest odors no one else can smell. Taste? Everything seems to tasty spicy on my meds. I also have that nasty white coat on my tongue despite brushing and scraping.

3. Teeth-RA had eaten at my jaw line so badly that I had no choice but to have a tooth pulled and extensive bridge worked follow. TMD is a major issue along with swollen (clogged with saliva buildup) mastoid bone/joint. You have to live on sour candy and hope that the salivary glands start unblocking the saliva and get it to produce better. That is so so so painful.

Awesome post!

Terry said...

Great post Deb! I have the dry eyes and occasional blurry vision and do see my eye doctor yearly. The rest was educational to me and I have lived with RA 8+ years now.

Steve in Florida said...

Hey Deb,

Hey I really like the website you have here. I know this is coming a little late (given that last month was arthritis awareness month), but there is a new infographic for rheumatoid arthritis that I really wanted to share with you. The infographic is titled "What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?". It has some great information about this chronic autoimmune disease and some of the organizations which support RA patients.

Nan said...

I had two eye surgeries for cataracts just two months ago and now I have implants and perfect distance vision for the first time since I was 10 years old! Plus everything is so clear and the colors are so vivid it is amazing. I am so glad I did it....

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