Have you ever wondered if your seasonal sniffles could be more than what it seems? A new study has unearthed a surprising link between allergies and arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic debilitating condition that affects millions all over the world. This discovery can lead to a better therapeutic approach and better management of this condition.
Did You Know? Osteoarthritis has a high prevalence in those with low bone mineral density (BMD). Genetics is one of the significant influencers of BMD. Those with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of low BMD than others. Learn more:
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.
It affects the joints between long bones.
When the cartilage around the bones wears down over time with age, it causes osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis usually affects the joints of the hands, knee, hip, and spine.
Symptoms can be managed but not reversed.
The lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee is as high as 44.7%.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that affects the joints.
It occurs when the cartilage around long bones and joints erode over time, either due to age or due to a traumatic injury.
Some individuals might be genetically predisposed and more prone to osteoarthritis than others.
Mild symptoms start that worsen over time.
- Pain and stiffness: The affected joint feels painful and stiff. Pain might increase during or after a movement. The joint might be highly rigid, especially in the morning.
- Swelling and tenderness: You might notice love when touching your joint lightly. There might be swelling due to inflammation of the joint.
- Grating sensation: You might see a grating sensation in the joint during movement. You might also hear a popping or cracking during movement.
- Bone spurs: These are hard lumps around the joint. They are extra bits of bone where the joint has deteriorated.
Difference Between Normal Knee And Osteoarthritis Knee
Typically, the ends of long bones are covered with protective cartilage.
In osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears off.
As a result, there is increased friction between the heads of the bones.
It leads to wear and tear and bone spurs around the joint.
Risk Factors For Osteoarthritis
- Older age: Older people are more likely to develop and suffer from osteoarthritis than the young.
- Gender: Females are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than males.
- Obesity: Being obese increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis. More weight puts more stress on your joints. Fat tissues also produce proteins that can cause inflammation around the joint.
- Joint injuries: Injuries when playing sports or during accidents can make you more prone to osteoarthritis. Even the wounds that have healed increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Genes can play a role in increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Allergies And Their Impact On The Immune System
Allergy is a condition where your body reacts severely to a foreign substance.
An allergen is a substance that can trigger an allergic reaction in the body.
Common allergens include pollen, certain foods, and medications.
The purpose of the immune system is to protect the body against infection.
Sometimes, the immune system confuses harmless substances to be harmful and initiates an attack against them.
Such substances are called allergens.
When an allergen enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies to counter it.
These antibodies then "attack" the allergen and destroy it.
Common allergy symptoms include itching, wheezing, runny nose, and rashes.
A severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Relationship Between Allergies and Arthritis
Certain types of allergies can worsen pain associated with arthritis.
It might be due to a similar immune system reaction to both conditions.
The immune system reacts to a foreign allergen or the body's tissues, and that causes inflammation.
Managing both conditions may improve symptoms and provide relief.
Types Of Joints Susceptible To Allergies
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees.
Osteoarthritis affects joints in the spine, hips, and hands.
During an allergic reaction, the joints already affected by arthritis experience the worst symptoms.
Types Of Allergies Linked To Arthritis
Two common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
A study conducted in 2015 suggests that people having at least one type of allergy are prone to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
It might be because of the association of rheumatoid arthritis and allergies with a chronically malfunctioning immune system.
Food allergies involving red meat, crab, and pork are associated with spinal arthritis.
Drug allergies, such as NSAIDS, are more prevalent in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
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Is Osteoarthritis Genetic?
Allergies Serve As A Signal For Osteoarthritis: The Study
A recent study was conducted to investigate whether people with atopic disease (a type of allergy) were at increased risk for osteoarthritis.
The results were published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases journal.
The researchers reviewed insurance claim data (2003-2019) and electronic health records (2010-2020).
The insurance dataset contained over 1 million people, while the electronic health records dataset contained 100,000 people.
The study had two groups of participants.
People in both groups didn’t have pre-existing OA or inflammatory arthritis
One group was named the "exposed" group.
It had people who were diagnosed with asthma or atopic disease.
The "non-exposed" group had no such diagnosis.
Both groups had a mean age of 50.
The exposed group had 60% female participants compared to the 48% in the non-exposed group.
The insurance dataset showed the exposed group had a 58% elevated chance of developing osteoarthritis.
The electronic health records dataset showed that 42% of people from the exposed group were prone to suffer from osteoarthritis.
After adjusting for multiple variables like age, gender, educational levels, etc., the researchers observed a 115% increased risk of osteoarthritis in those with both atopic dermatitis and asthma compared to the non-exposed group.
The researchers suggest that this data might indicate that allergic pathways can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- This study is based on previously collected claims data; therefore, there could be unmeasured factors that may or may not be significant.
- In one of the datasets used, crucial information like BMI, history of trauma to the joints, or level of physical activity was missing.
- ICD codes used in the study might have resulted in misclassification of exposures and outcomes.
- The severity of atopic disease and osteoarthritis were not considered.
The Gene Health panel of Xcode Life includes 47 important health aspects. 11 significant markers are analyzed for osteoarthritis.
If you have done an ancestry genetic test with companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, etc., you can learn your osteoarthritis genetic risk in just 3 steps.
- Download your DNA raw data from your service provider
- Add the “Gene Health” report to your cart (or the Xcode Life Genome Pack for a 48% discount)
- Upload your raw data and receive your results within 24 hours.
No DNA Test? No Problem
Not yet tested?
If you're new to the world of genetic testing, we've got you covered!
You can now get your ancestry DNA kits at an additional discount!
By following the link provided in this article, you can purchase a DNA kit at 10% OFF (the discount will be reflected when you add the product).
This will ensure that you have everything you need to embark on your genetic journey.
- 23andMe Ancestry Kit
- 23andMe Health + Ancestry Kit
- AncestryDNA Kit (currently no additional discount available)
Once you receive your kits, you can follow the instructions given by the respective service providers to collect your sample and ship it.
After you receive your DNA test results from the kit, you can upload your DNA data to our secure platform.
How To Lower Osteoarthritis Risk?
- Maintaining a healthy body weight: Being overweight increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis. It puts excess pressure on your joints and causes cartilage deformity.
- Controlling blood sugar levels: Diabetes makes you prone to suffer from osteoarthritis. Talk to your doctor about managing your blood sugar levels, as it is associated with a risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Regular exercise: Exercising prevents your joints from becoming stiff. It also keeps your muscles strong. Thirty minutes of light exercise can go a long way in keeping your bones and joints healthy.
- Maintaining joint health: Some strenuous activity puts pressure on your joints and may cause harm. Always use safety gear when exercising and do warm-ups before starting any workout to minimize the risk of injuries.
Summary: Allergies And Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common disorder that affects the joints between long bones.
The joints degenerate over time, causing friction and wear and tear between bones.
A new study reports that people suffering from atopic disease and/or asthma are at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.
People with both conditions have a 115% increased risk of osteoarthritis.
Maintaining a healthy body weight, controlling blood sugar levels, and protecting your joints from injuries are effective ways to prevent osteoarthritis.