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Rheumatoid lung disease

Definition

Rheumatoid lung disease is a group of lung problems related to rheumatoid arthritis . The condition can include:

Alternative Names

Lung disease - rheumatoid arthritis; Rheumatoid nodules

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Pulmonary abnormalities are common in rheumatoid arthritis, but they often cause no symptoms.

The causes of lung disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis are unknown. Sometimes the medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, especially methotrexate, may result in lung disease.

Symptoms

Other symptoms that may occur with this disease include:

Signs and tests

The doctor may hear crackles (rales) when listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. Or, the patient may have decreased breath sounds, wheezing, a rubbing sound, or normal breath sounds.

The following tests may show signs of rheumatoid lung disease:

Treatment

Many people with this condition have no symptoms. Treatments are aimed at the underlying disorder and the complications caused by the disorder. Corticosteroids or other medicines that suppress the immune system are sometimes useful.

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is related to the underlying disorder and the type and severity of lung disease.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider PROMPTLY if you have rheumatoid arthritis and you develop unexplained breathing difficulties.

Prevention

References

Raghu G. Interstitial lung disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. . 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 92.

Corte TJ, duBois RM. The lungs and connective tissue diseases. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 58.

Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.