Lung diseases rank as the second highest cause of death in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. (Second only to heart disease).
Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect the lungs in many ways. About 10% of patients develop rheumatoid nodules of the lung. The most common, and the most serious co-morbidity is Interstitial Lung Disease, leading to Pulmonary Fibrosis, which can ultimately be fatal.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is also being recognized more and more as a complication of RA.
Many patients don’t report, or don’t even realise they are developing lung disease, as onset can be slow and insidious.
I have been noticing for the last few months that my lung capacity has been much reduced, and I have lost stamina. Over the last few weeks, things have gotten markedly worse, even my usual light walk on a treadmill becoming impossible. Walking a few metres can leave me breathless.
My doctor ordered a high resolution chest CT, which showed some infiltrates and a granuloma. My doctor is concerned I have the beginnings of rheumatoid lung disease, however it’s not serious at this point, which is very good news! She suggests a repeat high resolution chest CT in a year, to see if there is any progression.
She also prescribed an inhaler, Anoro Elipta, which I take every morning. And after five days, I am noticing a huge difference. I can breathe again, and I’m not longer constantly running out of air, or taking ‘catch up’ breaths. Deep breaths still hurt, but I’m sure that will improve over time.
I may even finally get back to gym today. Maybe even work up a sweat AND be able to breathe. Which would make a nice change.
Gotta love it when a treatment is effective!