What triggers that arthritis attack that leaves you pain and immobile? It may be the air you breathe, the food you ate or the lipstick you just applied.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and these conditions and their causes are poorly understood. The genetic factors involved are pretty strong but other triggers are difficult to pinpoint. Researchers have been trying to identify the environmental factors that trigger these diseases. Scientists at Tel Aviv University report that
- People living close to airports have a higher likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
- Certain food additives can also trigger autoimmune diseases.
- Even chemicals in our body care products such as hairspray and lipstick or ingredients in our medications may serve as triggers.
According to rheumatologist Prof. Michael Ehrenfeld of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine:
“The onset of autoimmune diseases is a mixture of genetics, which you can’t change, and environmental factors, which in some cases you can, there are some environmental factors harder to avoid. For example, reactive arthritis is caused by a severe gastro-intestinal, urinary or sexual infection in some people.”
Other factors that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis are
- Extreme stress
- Environmental and industrial pollutants
- Second-hand smoke
- Food additives
- UV radiation exposure
The high level of jet fuel fumes in airports predisposes nearby residents to autoimmune diseases.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease afflicting more than 2 million Americans. Women are 3 times more susceptible than men. The disease occurs when the body’s own immune system to attack the joints, leading to pain, deformities and disability. Unlike osteoarthritis which is age-related, rheumatoid arthritis affects people of all ages.
Prof. Ehrenfeld explains:
“Most people think arthritis has to do with old age. This is false. There is only one major type of arthritis in older people: osteoarthritis, which is brought on by degenerative changes in the body. What you see in older adults is usually a non-inflammatory and non-autoimmune type of arthritis.
Most of the other kinds of arthritis we see in the clinic, the debilitating and inflammatory types, usually occur in young women between the ages of 20 and 40. We hope that our research will lessen the occurrence and onset of these painful disorders.”