Only 47% of people who experience symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as severe joint pain for more than three months, seek medical advice. Among these, only 4% seek a rheumatologist, a specialist physician responsible for the care of the disease. The data, released on Friday, 23, are from a survey by Ibope Inteligência at the request of Pfizer Brasil.
The online survey was carried out in the city of São Paulo and in the metropolitan regions of Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, with people over 18, from classes A, B and C. According to the research, which heard two thousand people, self-medication was the attitude most cited by the interviewees to try to solve the problem (40%), as well as the postponement of treatment (40%); 13% did not seek any solution and remained in pain.
“People start this self-medication because they are unaware of the disease. They do not know that a joint pain maintained and already with a degree of swelling, redness and stiffness constitutes a specific pathology, which is rheumatoid arthritis. They end up taking painkillers, anti-inflammatories and even corticosteroids, drugs that, in the long run, end up being harmful to the body ”, highlights the medical manager of Inflammation and Immunology at Pfizer Brasil, Márcia Pinheiro.
What is rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory and chronic disease, characterized mainly by inflammation of the joints. Autoimmune, the disease causes the immune system, responsible for defending the organism from viruses and bacteria, to attack the body itself, compromising its functioning.
The disease usually begins with joint pain in the hands and feet. “If you start to see in the joints mainly between the palm of the hand and the phalanges, or between the phalanges, if the joints start to become red, painful, swollen, for a period of time that varies, but that is more than three months , then it is already a warning sign that you should seek medical assistance ”, emphasizes the doctor.
The disease affects three times more women than men. Among the factors studied as reasons for the appearance of rheumatoid arthritis are genetic predisposition and infections. However, researchers are still investigating the real causes of the disease.
“We cannot prevent the disease, because there is a question of genetic load, which helps in the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, but we can avoid some triggers, such as smoking. It is also important to have a good diet, adequate hours of sleep, and to do physical activity ”, says Pinheiro.
As it is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, once diagnosed, rheumatoid arthritis must be monitored and treated throughout life. Medical therapies work by regulating autoimmunity and reducing inflammation in the body. The sooner treatment is started, the better the response rates and, the lower, the sequelae of the disease.
“Today we have many options, both in the Unified Health System (SUS) and in supplementary health, the disease must be covered by health operators. We have a very significant number of medicines available, from analgesics to immunosuppressants, synthetic medicines, disease modifiers, and biological medicines, a very robust arsenal ”, highlights the doctor.