How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Lungs
In addition to damaging joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect your lungs. One of the most serious complications is interstitial lung disease, which can be tough to detect.
Despite its name, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) doesn’t just affect your joints. It can also damage the tissue surrounding the joints, as well as your eyes, heart, and lungs.
“We call it rheumatoid arthritis, but we should really call it rheumatoid disease,” says Elinor Mody, MD, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Women’s Orthopedic and Joint Disease Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Rheumatoid arthritis can damage the whole body. Besides the joints, the “heart and lungs are the most commonly affected,” Dr. Mody says. Doctors aren’t sure how or why rheumatoid arthritis causes other organs to suffer, but lung complications from RA can be serious and even cause death.