AARP Eye Center
You likely know that certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney ailments boost your risk of serious problems with COVID-19. But what if you have arthritis?
For the most part, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because rheumatic diseases in and of themselves don't appear to increase your odds of contracting COVID-19, says Ellen M. Gravallese, M.D., chief of the division of rheumatology, inflammation and immunity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston, and the president of the American College of Rheumatology.
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But some underlying issues related to your condition, as well as certain medications you may take, may raise concerns, she cautions.
Over 54 million U.S. adults suffer from some form of arthritis, a category that includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthriti — all of which damage joints in different ways.
Good news for those with osteoarthritis
The most common type, osteoarthritis, seems in the clear when it comes to the coronavirus. A few months ago, scientists were worried that people taking common arthritis medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — a category that includes aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve and selective COX2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Vioxx — could have an elevated risk of contracting the disease. This was based on a theory that the increase of an enzyme in the lungs from the drugs might create a welcome mat for the virus.
But so far no patient studies have linked NSAID use with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even though the theoretical concern about these drugs doesn't seem to be playing out, if you can get relief from Tylenol or a nonprescription topical cream, you might want to switch or take NSAIDs at the lowest dose that helps, advises Lee Rubin, M.D., chief of the Total Joint Replacement Program at Yale Medicine.