Keep Your Kidneys Healthy From RA

Medically reviewed in November 2021

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the chronic inflammatory disorder that attacks joints, you should also keep an eye on your kidneys. Studies suggest that up to half of people with rheumatoid arthritis will develop chronic kidney disease, which can increase your risk of RA complications such as heart disease.

Experts do not fully understand the link between kidney disease and RA. Certain drugs used to treat RA, such as pain relievers and steroids, can be toxic to the kidneys. It’s also thought that the inflammation of RA may damage the kidneys directly. Regardless of the reasoning behind the connection, it’s important to know the warning signs of kidney disease and take steps to keep your kidneys healthy.

Warnings Signs of Kidney Disease
Your kidneys filter out waste and excess water from your blood, which becomes urine. If you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys can’t function properly, which causes waste to build up in your blood. That extra waste could make you feel sick. You may also develop anemia, hypertension, weak bones and poor health in general. That’s why it’s important to keep a look out for the following symptoms if you have rheumatoid arthritis, as they could be signs that you’re developing kidney disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swelling around your eyes, feet and/or ankles
  • Dry, itchy or darkened skin
  • Trouble sleeping and/or concentrating
  • Urinating more often
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cramping, especially at night
  • Weight loss

You’re also more likely to get chronic kidney disease if you have diabetes, hypertension or a family history of the disease.

Keep Your Kidneys Healthy with RA
Early treatment is your best recourse against rheumatoid arthritis because it reduces your risk of complications, including kidney and/or heart disease. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the right treatment options for you as soon as you’re diagnosed. Your doctor can track your kidney function with regular blood and urine tests. Ask your doctor if you need these tests.

In the meantime, there are other things you should do to keep kidney disease at bay:

Find a Doctor in your area to get the care you need today. And, don’t forget to bring these essential questions regarding RA to your next appointment.

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