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Diseases > Ankylosing Spondylitis | AS > Diet, Work and Lifestyle

Diet, Work and Lifestyle for People with AS

Diet

Questions about diet and arthritis are very common. We all want to know what we can do to help ourselves. Can we change our diet to improve our immune system and help our arthritis? Changing our diet gives us a sense of control over a disease which often seems to have a mind of its own.

Unfortunately, there is no diet that has been proven to significantly alter the course of AS or other types of arthritis. Following the basics of healthy eating can help improve health and well-being in everyone, including those with AS. Keeping a healthy weight can help reduce the load on your weight-bearing joints including the spine and hips.

Work and Travel

The pain and stiffness caused by AS can sometimes limit people’s normal activities, including work. But there are things you can do to lessen the impact of AS on your work and daily routine. If you find out you have AS when you’re still young, consider choosing a career that won’t be physically demanding on your joints, especially your spine.

If you have a job where you sit for much of the day, adjusting features of your workplace can help make working with AS easier. For example, adjusting the position of chairs and desks for proper posture can help. You can also make adjustments to the seat of your vehicle to make driving more comfortable and reduce the stress on your spine.

Traveling with AS

Traveling is still possible when you have AS. It is best to be organized prior to your trip to ensure a smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable time. See our travel check list.

Lifestyle

Alcohol Consumption

Many of us like to share a glass of wine, a beer, or a spirit from time to time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of AS, some people may turn to alcohol to help cope with the pain and distress. Alcoholic beverages are not an effective treatment for AS. They can also interact with some medications. Besides, there are so many effective treatments available for AS, you don’t need to try to manage your illness with alcohol.

Smoking

Cigarette smoking, whether you have AS or not, has no positive effects on any aspect of your health. Smoking can be especially harmful to people with AS whose upper spine is affected by the disease. That’s because when the upper spine is inflamed and the bones begin to fuse together, it’s harder to breathe in deeply. If you are a smoker with AS, quitting could be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.

Intimacy

Although AS does not particularly cause a loss of sex drive, it can cause pain, fatigue and emotional hardships. These hardships can create barriers to sexual needs, ability and satisfaction. Take comfort knowing that sex and intimacy can be maintained in people with AS … it can even draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication between mates.

For more information on intimacy and arthritis, a great book is Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win by Sheryl Koehn, Taysha Palmer and John Esdaile.