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Rheumatoid arthritis

COVID-19 and rheumatoid arthritis: Risks and precautions

Treatment and symptom management

There is currently no direct treatment for COVID-19. Treatment will largely vary on the severity of the illness and the symptoms a person has.

People who only experience mild to moderate symptoms may be able to manage the illness in their homes. However, people must work closely with their doctors to monitor symptoms and potential treatments.

People with severe symptoms may require hospitalization to treat symptoms and complications. Treatments will vary in each case based on the complications.

Some people with severe complications may require oxygen supplementation to help them get enough oxygen into their lungs. Others may require mechanical respiration if their lungs begin to fail.

What to do if test positive

Anyone who tests positive for SARS-Cov2 should work closely with their doctor to discuss and implement any treatments necessary to manage symptoms.

A public health professional may also assist in tracing others they have been in contact with. This is known as contact-tracing.

A person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus should self-isolate. This means staying at home.

Ideally, a person with COVID-19 should self-isolate in a room away from other family members, using a separate bathroom if possible.

A person can leave the house to collect medicines if no one else can do it for them. Wear a mask, especially when leaving home.

Prognosis

A large report from the WHO notes that approximately 80% of confirmed COVID-19 cases experience mild to moderate symptoms.

These infections may clear up at home, using over-the-counter or prescription drugs to manage symptoms.

People who experience moderate to severe infections may require hospitalization. Treatments may include oxygen supplementation to keep enough oxygen in the lungs.

In critically severe cases, the person may need mechanical ventilation to keep oxygen in the lungs.

In the most severe cases, a person may experience organ failure and shock that could be life-threatening.

Summary

Experts are not entirely certain how COVID-19 affects people with RA. There is not enough evidence to confirm a link between the two at this point.

In general, people with autoimmune conditions, such as RA, are at a higher risk of contracting infections, including SARS-CoV-2.

People with RA should take extra steps to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.

Doctors may recommend a person with RA have at least a 90-day supply of their medications on hand, to ensure they have access to their medication if they need to stay in quarantine. Do not stop taking any medication unless directed to do so by a doctor.

General preventive practices are important for all and can help reduce the spread of the infection.

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