Arthritis symptoms aggravated by Gulf climate

Arthritis symptoms aggravated by Gulf climate
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Published August 9th, 2010 - 09:17 GMT

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Increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the UAE, illnesses of an inactive and overeating society, are having a negative impact on those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. While the link between obesity and rheumatic disease may be commonly known, certain environmental conditions such as heat and humidity can also have an adverse effect on rheumatoid arthritis. At the Emirates Rheumatology Conference, which will be held from 10 – 12 of October, 2010, as part of the 3rd annual Rheumatology Exhibition and Congress, doctors will be stressing the importance of education and awareness and also paying special attention to the role lifestyle management plays in fighting the disease.

According to Dr. Humeira Badsha, consultant rheumatologist at Al Biraa Arthritis and Bone Clinic (ABABC) and secretary of Emirates Society for Rheumatology, there are more than a 100 different types of arthritis, and an estimated 20 per cent of the population in the Gulf region is affected by some form of rheumatic disease. Dr Badsha will be chairing the Emirates Rheumatology Conference.

Obesity is a risk factor for both rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease and it can cause, and be caused by, rheumatoid arthritis. Obesity can result from some of the treatments doctors give to rheumatoid arthritis patients and of course, obesity can result from the relative inactivity due to joint damage.

According to Dr. Badsha, every kilo increase in weight above the normal will increase the stress on joints by five fold. "This is an increasing problem in the UAE and people need to be more active and lose weight in order to manage the pain and control the symptoms."

"Heat and humidity can also cause the joints to swell more and can worsen the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis," said Dr Badsha. "In addition, being in an air conditioned environment can worsen problems of vitamin D deficiency. When patients stay indoors all day they do not get vitamin D from the sun and this can cause vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency leads to osteoporosis, weak muscles and autoimmune diseases."

There are many new treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis which can put the disease into remission. "The aim of the treatment is to completely halt the progression of the disease and to prevent deformities and joint damage," said Dr Badsha. "Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis hinge on disease modifying drugs which seek to correct the overactive immune system. These include tablets such as Methotrexate and can also include the newer biological agents. There are many biological drugs which have revolutionised the care of rheumatoid arthritis and these include Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Mabthera, Orencia and even newer ones such as Actemra and Simponi. All of these correct the immune system disorder and can induce disease remission, prevent disability and preserve normal joints."

The Emirates Rheumatology Conference will cover the latest in developments and treatments for rheumatic diseases in the region, featuring international experts covering an array of conference topics including pain management, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, joint replacement, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other connective tissue diseases.

Trade visitors have unlimited access to the exhibition from 8.30am to 5.30pm, 10 - 12 October, 2010, at the Al Murooj Rotana Hotel, Dubai. 

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