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Children are too at risk of getting Rheumatoid Arthritis, say experts


Hyderabad: Rheumatoid Arthritis is a problem, that most of us think, only affects adults. But, what we can see nowadays is, that even children also are being affected. The two-day Rheumatology conference held at the KIMS hospitals, Secunderabad stressed this subject and also discussed several issues linked to Rheumatology. Dr V Sarath Chandra Mouli, Clinical Director, Department of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, KIMS Hospitals, Secunderabad has been instrumental in organising the conference.

Several distinguished doctors from across the country have participated in this conference and shared their valuable thoughts on the problem. Dr Suma Balan, paediatric rheumatologist said, “rheumatology is not understood even by the general public. children can not express themselves well regarding these issues. But there is a good chance that they also can get arthritis.

Stiffness in the hands and legs, long fever, and decreased eyesight are some of the symptoms which should be taken care of. Parents should take their children to a rheumatologist and get evaluated.”

Dr Rajkiran Dudam, Sr. Rheumatologist, Hyderabad Rheumatology Centre said, ” other parts in the body also get affected due to this problem. Timely treatment is a must. It starts like common arthritis, but slowly affects skin, eyes, lungs, and heart. Sometimes it may become fatal too.

April is rheumatology awareness month

April is rheumatology awareness month. If the diagnosis is late like 6 months to one year, other organs will be damaged. By the time they come to a rheumatologist, they can’t revive the other organs that are damaged. So, early detection of problems is the most important aspect. This is an autoimmune disease. It starts slowly, but raises gradually.”

Dr Sarath Chandra Mouli, Clinical Director, Department of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, KIMS Hospitals, who organised this conference said, “so many changes have come in the treatment of these problems for the last two decades. Patients can lead a normal life post-treatment. They can pursue studies, do jobs, can marry, can do anything. The number of Rheumatology specialists is also very low in our country. Nearly 20 thousand doctors are needed as per our population, but only around 800 are available to date. More training centres are needed.

No single medical college has a rheumatology centre is there in Andhra Pradesh. Governments should come forward and open such centres. Some post covid issues are also there. Vaccines are also affecting some people with rheumatology issues, but it is very very rare. There is a myth that steroids usage in rheumatology suppresses the immune system, and they get other problems. But it is not true. Patients suffering from rheumatology issues have the same level of risk as the general public.”

Women are more prone to rheumatology related issues

Dr B. G. Dharmanand, Sr. Consultant, Manipal Hospitals, Bangaluru, and President-Indian Rheumatology Association said, “women are more prone to rheumatology related issues like arthritis, SLE and others. These are problematic both to the patients and their family members. Patients with rheumatological diseases can also get covid. But, most of the patients are not at risk of severe covid. There is a small chance that covid can worsen autoimmune diseases. Post covid, some are suffering from tiredness, and body pains for a long time. Very few can develop rheumatological diseases.

There are more than 200 rheumatology diseases. This is a relatively new speciality in India. There is no adequate awareness even among some non-rheumatology doctors too. There is a misconception that most rheumatology diseases have no cure. A lot of research has been done in the last 20 years. Very very effective treatment has come in rheumatology. We are planning to have conferences and public awareness programs to educate the public about this problem.”

Dr B. Bhaskar Rao, Managing Director, KIMS Hospitals, Prof. Amita Aggarwal, Professor and Head of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute, Lucknow, Prof. Aman Sharma, Department of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, PGIMER, Chandigarh, and some other distinguished doctors from across the country have participated in the conference and shared their opinions.