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|Health Alert for RA|
|Written by Nevayda|
|08 January 2011|
WELCOME TO JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH ALERTS!
Johns Hopkins Health Alert
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), like other chronic autoimmune diseases, is the result of immune system dysfunction. If you have one of these conditions, your immune system mistakenly attacks your body's own tissues instead of going after harmful bacteria, viruses, and other dangerous intruders. As a consequence, people with RA are about twice as likely to get infections as those who don't have an autoimmune disease.
To further complicate the situation, many of the medications used to treat RA work by suppressing the immune system to stifle its reaction to the body's tissues. Although these medications perform an important function in slowing the progression of the disease and reducing symptoms, they may also prevent the immune system from doing its normal j ob -- fighting infectious invaders. Faced with this double-edged sword, is there anything you can do to enhance the health of your immune system?
You bet -- immunization against infectious disease. Vaccines play an important role in protecting people of all ages from certain infectious diseases. Because RA diminishes the effectiveness of your immune system, vaccines are even more important for you. But there's a catch: Some vaccines are not appropriate for people with RA, because they contain live organisms.
Vaccines To Avoid: Most vaccines are safe and fairly effective in people with RA, but there are some that you should avoid, because they use live viruses or bacteria. Also avoid attenuated vaccines, which use a weakened—but not dead—organism.