Causes of rheumatoid arthritis ILD
When rheumatoid arthritis affects the lungs, this is known as rheumatoid arthritis interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD). The risk of developing RA-ILD is greater in smokers and in people with increased blood levels of anti-CCP antibodies, which are associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Although RA-ILD is more common in people who have had rheumatoid arthritis for a long time, it can occur at the same time as diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. A small number of people may experience lung problems before joint symptoms.
If you develop rheumatoid arthritis ILD, you may have pulmonary fibrosis symptoms, such as breathlessness and a cough, alongside the other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis ILD is often treated with immunosuppressive therapies, as it is caused by inflammation affecting the connective tissues in your lungs.
As well as seeing the rheumatology team for your rheumatoid arthritis, you will have regular appointments with an ILD team to monitor your lungs. Some hospitals have a combined Rheumatology and ILD clinic specifically for patients who have both conditions.
There are many types of RA-ILD. Some forms can progress over time and are associated with a reduced life expectancy.
Other forms of pulmonary fibrosis
- COVID-19-related pulmonary fibrosis
- Drug-induced pulmonary fibrosis
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Idiopathic NSIP
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Systemic sclerosis
Information and support on arthritis conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are now over 75 pulmonary fibrosis support groups around the country.
Support groups meet informally to share experiences, provide expert information and raise funds and awareness.
Call our support line
APF runs an email and telephone support line offering information and advice about living with PF.
Find us on social media
Watch videos of how other people cope day to day with PF.