If you’re living with RA, you know all too well what it’s like to have a body that doesn’t work the way it should. You’ve probably had to make changes in your daily routine just to accommodate your symptoms, which can include joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, muscle weakness, and difficulty moving.
There are many different forms of RA. Some people experience mild symptoms that can easily be hidden from others—but even if you don’t look sick from the outside, there are still signs that something might be going on inside your body that could lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
If you suspect that you might have RA or another autoimmune disease like lupus or psoriasis (and even if you don’t!), read more to learn about some of the most unusual symptoms linked with rheumatoid arthritis so you can take charge of your own health rather than waiting around for someone else’s diagnosis or treatment plan!
1) Hearing Problems
Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to hearing problems in a few different ways. First, inflammation can narrow the space in the middle ear where the eardrum sits—this can cause it to bulge and affect the way sound enters your inner ear. Second, RA can result in nerve damage that affects your ability to perceive sounds around you. This can be especially frustrating for people who already have hearing difficulties and need their full sense of hearing just to get by in daily life (you might have noticed these folks using their hands or faces to try and work around their own difficulty recognizing sounds).
It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of RA so you can get help sooner rather than later—and if you’re living with RA, it’s even more important that you are aware of changes in your body that could indicate a need for medical attention.
Sure, snoring can be embarrassing for the snorer and frustrating for their bed partners. But if you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it could also be a symptom of a serious condition developing in your body.
If you find yourself waking up in the morning feeling exhausted without any recollection of why, take note: according to medical experts, those who snore at night may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
Snoring is caused when the tissue around the throat vibrates while sleeping because of an obstruction or restriction in the airway, which can be a sign that there are problems with blood flow to the heart.
3) Skin Related Issues
When people think of rheumatoid arthritis, they usually think of painful joints and stiffness. But many people with the condition experience a number of other symptoms, including changes in their skin. One of these symptoms is a rash on the hands and feet that resembles psoriasis, which can be very uncomfortable.
Like psoriasis, RA-related skin rashes tend to appear on the back of the hands and around the bottom of the feet or toes. Unlike psoriasis, though, RA rashes also tend to cause bleeding when scratched or otherwise irritated—though this symptom isn’t universal. Sometimes, rashes can be misdiagnosed as fungal infections or even poison ivy! If you’ve got a weird rash that isn’t going away no matter what you try to do about it, contact your doctor to learn more about this relatively uncommon symptom and whether you may have rheumatoid arthritis.
4) Trouble Breathing
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a difficult condition to diagnose, but there are some very unusual symptoms linked with rheumatoid arthritis so you can take charge of your own health rather than waiting around for someone else’s diagnosis or treatment plan! One of the most unusual symptoms is trouble breathing. Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly and doesn’t go away could be a sign that you’re having an asthma attack.
Shortness of breath that lasts for long periods of time when you’re inactive might indicate emphysema, which is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Either one of these problems can cause severe difficulties in your day-to-day life, so it’s important to find out what’s causing your symptoms as soon as possible so you can get the proper treatment.
5) Chronic Cough, or Chest Pains
If you’ve ever had a bad cold that made you cough until you started to worry about whether or not your lungs were going to explode, then you have some idea of how painful and disruptive a chronic cough can be. A cough can be your body’s way of trying to get rid of something irritating—a mucous buildup, a fluid buildup, even an infection. But when it seems like it doesn’t go away, that’s when it could be something more serious.
In the case of RA, if your lungs are affected by the disease, you may have trouble coughing up anything at all; instead, your chest may feel tight and heavy. You might also experience shortness of breath. This is especially dangerous for someone with RA because it can lead to fatigue and an increased risk of falls and bone fractures.
6) Temporary Numbness
You know how it feels when you step on a Lego in the middle of the night and your toe goes to sleep? That’s called Paresthesia—and it’s one of the more unusual symptoms of RA that can easily be overlooked. When you’re living with RA, one day you might wake up and find that your fingers or toes will feel numb or tingly, or they’ll feel unusually heavy. If you’d normally use your hands to perform a task, you may feel like you have to re-learn movements that have become second nature to you. It may last for a few days, or it might go away after awhile—but sometimes it can last for weeks at a time. If this happens to you and is accompanied by other symptoms such as joint pain or fatigue, talk to your doctor about what might be causing this feeling and what you can do about it!
7) Red Eyes
Besides the usual symptoms, like joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, muscle weakness, and difficulty moving, there are plenty of other signs that you might have RA without even knowing it—and one of the most unusual ones is having painful, red eyes! For some people with RA, their eyes may turn a bright pinkish red because of the inflammation in their eyes and eyelids. If you notice that your vision seems blurry or if your eyes are stinging or watering more than usual, it’s definitely worth stopping by your doctor’s office to get checked out for rheumatoid arthritis.