- With Mayo Clinic rheumatologist
April Chang-Miller, M.D.read biographyclose window
April Chang-Miller, M.D.April Chang-Miller, M.D.
Dr. April Chang-Miller is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and is a consultant in the Division of Rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Dr. Chang-Miller's primary field is rheumatology with special interests in inflammatory joint diseases called seronegative spondyloarthropathies, such as ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. She also cares for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica.
The New York City native is a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Chang-Miller joined the Mayo Clinic staff in Rochester, Minn., in 1991, and in 2002 she relocated to Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She is a fellow in the American College of Rheumatology and has been on the board of directors of the Arthritis Foundation North Central Chapter.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
Treatments and drugs (4)
- Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
- Hip resurfacing: An alternative to conventional hip replacement?
- Arthritis pain medications: Do they raise blood pressure?
- see all in Treatments and drugs
Lifestyle and home remedies (4)
- Rheumatoid arthritis diet: Do certain foods reduce symptoms?
- Isometric exercises: Good for strength training?
- Water exercise: Does pool temperature matter?
- see all in Lifestyle and home remedies
Alternative medicine (3)
- Mangosteen juice: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
- Do infrared saunas have any health benefits?
- Yucca: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
Can rheumatoid arthritis affect your lungs?
from April Chang-Miller, M.D.
Although rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects joints, it sometimes causes lung disease as well. People who have had rheumatoid arthritis for several years and who are between the ages of 50 and 60 seem to be the most likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis-related lung disease. Occasionally, however, lung problems surface before the joint inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
The lung problems most often linked to rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Scarring within the lungs. Scarring related to long-term inflammation (interstitial lung disease) may cause shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite.
- Lung nodules. Small lumps may form in the lungs (rheumatoid nodules), as well as in other parts of the body. Lung nodules usually cause no signs or symptoms, and they don't pose a risk of lung cancer. In some cases, however, a nodule can rupture and cause a collapsed lung.
- Pleural disease. The tissue surrounding the lungs, known as the pleura (PLOOR-uh), can become inflamed in rheumatoid arthritis. Pleural inflammation is often accompanied by pleural effusion (PLOOR-ul uh-FU-zhun) — a buildup of fluid between two layers of the pleura. Sometimes the fluid disappears on its own. A large pleural effusion, however, can cause shortness of breath. Pleural disease may also cause fever and pain on breathing.
Contact your doctor promptly if you have rheumatoid arthritis and experience any unexplained breathing problems. Sometimes treatment is aimed at the underlying rheumatoid arthritis. In other cases, treatment involves medication to suppress the immune system or a procedure to remove fluid from the lungs.Next question
Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
- Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/192068760-2/0/1288/0.html. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Lake FR. Overview of lung disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Jan. 4, 2013.
- Lake FR. Interstitial lung disease in rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Jan. 7, 2013.
- Rosenow EC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 16, 2013.