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