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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune illness which affects the joints. The onset of the illness generally occurs between 30 and 50 years of age and, as with many other autoimmune illnesses, is usually more frequent in women.

The term “arthritis” includes all of those rheumatic illnesses in which the process leads to an inflammation. This chronic illness causes an inflammation of the joints and the surrounding tissues and normally is followed by an extra-articular behavior that damages other organs. For this reason, rheumatic arthritis is considered a systemic illness.

RA is not a hereditary illness. Immediate family members of a patient might have a slight increased risk for developing the disease but this is not important enough to advise against having children.

Symptoms

RA develops with pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of joint movement, especially in the hands, feet, wrists, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. If the intensity of the inflammation is severe and constant, it can lead to general alterations such as fever or low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most debilitating of the rheumatic illnesses.

Prevention

  • Avoid a hectic life, with a great amount of physical activity
  • Sleep an average of 8 hours a night, in addition to attempting to take a 30-minute nap
  • Begin each day with a hot bath to minimize morning stiffness
  • Avoid activities that require physical efforts, standing for long periods of time or use repetitive movements, especially with your hands
  • During the work day and rest periods, maintain an upright position in the chair and avoid hunching your back and neck for long periods of time
  • Avoid forcing the joints in your hands
  • Avoid physical contact sports and those that require jumping or bumping
  • In periods of less inflammation, do low-impact physical activities regularly without overexerting yourself
  • A firm mattress and soft pillow are recommended. A pillow should not be placed between your knees.
  • Use of the proper footwear and support for your heel
  • Lose weight. Being overweight means an additional pressure on your joints
  • Avoiding smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption can help prevent osteoporosis. Both habits weaken the bone structure and increase the risk of fractures

Gene or region studied

  • 21q22.2
  • IL23R
  • 2q33.2
  • STAT4
  • 9q33.2
  • 6q23.3
  • IRF5
  • MMEL1
  • 6p21.32
  • 1p13.2
  • AIF1
  • 7q32.1
  • ITGAV
  • ANAPC4
  • 13q12.11
  • C6orf10
  • IL2RA
  • 1p31.1
  • TRAF1
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