risk of inflammatory bowel disease and a 15% higher risk of connective tissue diseases, Giovanni Adami, from the rheumatology unit at the University of Verona, and colleagues found.
Their report was published online March 15 in the journal RMD Open.
This was an observational study, so it can’t establish cause, the study authors noted in a journal news release. However, they pointed out that previous research has linked air pollution to immune system abnormalities, and that smoking — which emits some of the same toxins found in fossil fuel emissions from vehicles and industry — is a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.
Reducing air pollution
There are simple ways to reduce air pollution in your home, car or at work. Try these simple steps provided by the Cleveland Clinic:
- Avoid smoking indoors (but quitting smoking is the best answer for overall health).
- Use craft supplies in well-ventilated areas.
- Make sure your gas stove is well-ventilated.
- Minimize clutter.
- Remove carpeting if possible.
- Use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to reduce moisture.
- Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests.
- Remove shoes at the door.
- Have car emissions tested regularly.
- Minimize air freshener use.
- Test your home for radon.
- Use carbon monoxide detectors.
- Fix water leaks.
- Dust surfaces and vacuum frequently.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
- Make sure exhaust fans are functioning in your bathrooms and kitchen
- Keep a lid on scented candles.
When to see a doctor
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. Joint symptoms may develop over several years. While other people may experience rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that progress rapidly. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis have times with symptoms (flares) and then times with no symptoms (remission), the Cleveland Clinic notes.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods.
- Pain and stiffness in the same joints on both sides of your body.
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness).
If you are experiencing persistent discomfort and swelling in your joints, you should make an appointment with your doctor.