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Alternative Names Return to topLung disease - rheumatoid arthritis; Rheumatoid nodules
Definition Return to top
Rheumatoid lung disease is a group of lung problems related to rheumatoid arthritis. The condition can include fluid in the chest (pleural effusions), scarring (pulmonary fibrosis), lumps (nodules), and high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
Causes Return to top
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 may result in lung disease.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor may hear crackles when listening to the lungs with a stethoscope (auscultation). Or, the patient may have decreased breath sounds, a rubbing sound, or normal breath sounds.
The following tests may show problems consistent with rheumatoid lung disease:
Treatment Return to top
Many people with this condition have no symptoms. Therefore, therapies are aimed at treating the underlying disorder and complications resulting from the disorder. Corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive therapies are sometimes useful.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome is related to the underlying disorder and the type and severity of lung disease.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider PROMPTLY if you have rheumatoid arthritis and you develop unexplained breathing difficulties.
References Return to top
Strange C, Highland KB. Interstitial lung disease in the patient who has connective tissue disease. Clin Chest Med. September 2004;25:549-559.
Zrour SH, Touzi M, Bejia I, et al. Correlations between high-resolution computed tomography of the chest and clinical function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Prospective study in 75 patients. Joint Bone Spine. January 2005;72:41-47.Update Date: 3/13/2007 Updated by: David A. Kaufman, M.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.