Arthritis is a collection of different conditions that cause swelling and tenderness in one or more joints of the body. The symptoms of arthritis tend to come and go, and they vary from person to person. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the joints and causing pain and swelling.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis usually have certain triggers that cause their symptoms to flare or worsen. These triggers vary from person to person, but it is important for people with arthritis to identify their own triggers so they can manage the condition better and reduce pain and swelling.
The best way to identify your triggers is to keep a journal that details your activities and the foods you eat, and the times your symptoms flare-up and what symptoms you feel. This helps you connect the dots and find out what is causing your symptoms to worsen. The following are some of the most common triggers for arthritis.
Food is probably the most common trigger for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. There are many foods that can cause inflammation in the body and so increase the chances of a flare-up. Examples of such foods or ingredients include:
• Refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar
• Foods that contain saturated and trans fats, like deep-fried food
• Processed foods
• Dairy products in some people
• Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), which is a food additive used to enhance flavor
• Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame
Smoking affects the health of every organ in the body, and your joints are no exception. Smoking can both increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis and can be a trigger for those who already have it.
Allergies activate the immune system and can potentially lead to a flare-up in arthritis symptoms. Any type of allergy, such as food or drug allergies can be a trigger. Being exposed to the offending substance causes an immune reaction in the body, which can stimulate the body to attack the joints and cause a flare-up.
Infections, whether bacterial, viral, or fungal, cause an immune reaction that can also cause your body to attack the joints and trigger a flare-up.
Stress causes the body to release hormones, such as cortisol, which can increase inflammation in the body. Increased inflammation can cause arthritis symptoms to worsen.
Doing too much physical activity can overwork your joints, which can cause symptoms to worsen. Exercise is good for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it should be done in a way so that it does not have negative effects. It is best to see your doctor before starting any exercise routine.