I’m sure all of you know that Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by remissions & exacerbations. The aim of treatment is to keep your RA in remission & avoid flares as much as possible.
What is a RA flare?
RA flare describes an exacerbation of RA activity. It is the period when joints start hurting & are swollen.
What brings on a RA flare?
1. Change of weather. Sudden rain/ winter generally is responsible.
2. Physical exertion
3. Mental stress
4. Dietary changes. Sour food items tend to bring a flare in many RAers.
5. Stopping of medications.
How does a flare affect you?
1. The pain & suffering due to the joint inflammation.
2. If the flare gets prolonged, the dose of other DMARDs would eventually go up.
The best way to take care of a flare is to detect it early & treat is asap. You may contact your Rheumatologist & consult him immediately. However this may not always be feasible. The waiting list at your Rheumie’s clinic may not always allow you an immediate consultation.
Hence, speak to your Rheumie when you visit him the next time & get an emergency plan ready.
The emergency plan
1. An analgesic (NSAID) that you can immediately take when you sense a flare. Ask you rheumy about the number of tablets that you can take in a day, the interval you need to keep between 2 tablets. NSAIDs are never taken on empty stomach. Always eat something before taking a NSAID to avoid gastritis (acidity).
2. Ask your Rheumie if you can take a small short course of a steroid in case of a severe flare. You need to understand that steroids are not to be continued in the long run & you can start it & see your Rhumie asap. Speak to him regarding the dose & duration.
3. Once you sense a flare, put the plan in action immediately. The best way to take care of a flare is to treat it immediately.
4. Always take adequate rest during a flare.