While rheumatoid arthritis strikes older adults at around the age of 75, there is a type of rheumatoid arthritis that is seen in children. Children have the possibility to be affected with most diseases concerning the skeletal function and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is one of those. Addressing concerns about this disorder is important because childhood is the stage where growth and development is most crucial. It affects both females and males and can be diagnosed in children as young as 6 years old. Like rheumatoid arthritis for adults, JRA is a lasting disease which affects the joints of the body.
How can we detect JRA?
There are several types of this disease. Most children with the first type of JRA present signs and symptoms such as having alternating high fever and episodes with normal temperature, the appearance of rashes, swelling of lymph nodes, and enlargement of some organs of the body such as the liver and spleen. The joints are also involved and the symptoms may last for about 6 to 12 months. The second type of JRA is divided into two, one affecting girls and the other affecting boys. Most girls experience inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye which is usually painful and may lead to visual impairment or even blindness. The type affecting boys cause arthritis which is prevalent in their lower extremities. The third type of JRA affects four or more joints. This is somewhat similar to the rheumatoid arthritis which is found in adults. Signs and symptoms include fever, body pain, fatigue, weight loss, anemia, poor growth and development, and enlargement of the organs of the body. JRA can be very painful to the children and can make them irritable. It is important that parents know about these signs and symptoms in order to help their children cope better with this disease.
What are the usual treatments for JRA?
While rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured and the treatments are only to delay its progress, the prognosis for children with JRA is positive. Treatment includes the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications to reduce the swelling and relieve pain. Methotrexate, a drug proven to relieve patients of joint pain and swelling, is also used when symptoms are more aggressive. Usually, there is the same treatment for adults and JRA.
Another important aspect of treatment is nutrition. Foods rich in vitamins, protein, and iron are recommended because it helps the body repair and build tissues. According to researches, food intake with higher amount of carbohydrates is not recommended since it only worsens the swelling that is common among children with JRA. However, since it is a crucial time for growth and development, carbohydrates cannot be eliminated from the diet. The solution for this dilemma is by preparing diet which has low carbohydrate content. Instead of serving food rich in carbohydrates, foods rich in protein and fats are given. Low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables such as apple, orange, pear, banana, pineapple, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, onion, and squash are ideal. Protein reduces inflammation and can be found in beef, chicken, fish and eggs. In addition, fish oil which is rich in omega 3 can also help lessen inflammation. These products are readily available in the market. When included to the child's diet daily, it can have favorable effects.