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Diseases > Rheumatoid Arthritis | RA > Diet, Work and Lifestyle

Diet, Work and Lifestyle with RA

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 RA or other types of arthritis. Following the basics of healthy eating can help improve health and well-being in everyone, including those with RA. Keeping a healthy weight can help reduce the load on your weight-bearing joints including the spine, hips, and knees.

Work and Travel

How can RA affect my job/career?

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

If you have a job where you sit for much of the day, adjusting features of your workplace can help make working with RA 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 RA

Traveling is still possible when you have RA. 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 RA, some people may turn to alcohol to help cope with the pain and distress. Alcoholic beverages are not an effective treatment for RA. They can also interact with some medications. Examples include the DMARDs methotrexate, leflunomide, and azathioprine.

Besides, there are so many effective treatments available for RA, you don’t need to try to manage your illness with alcohol.

Smoking

Cigarette smoking, whether you have RA or not, has no positive effects on any aspect of your health.

Did you know that people who smoke have a higher chance of developing RA? The good news is that the chances decrease in those who stop smoking.

Smoking also makes RA worse and more difficult to treat. The reasons for this are not clear. But it’s thought that chemicals in the cigarettes may interfere with medications for RA. Smoking can also make RA nodules worse.

So if you are a smoker with RA, quitting could be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.

Intimacy

Although RA 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 RA … 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.