Arthritis is a debilitating condition which affects more than 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the United States. In hopes of providing help for the millions afflicted, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation mark each May as National Arthritis Awareness Month. No cure exists yet for either of the two main diagnostic categories: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). However, medication can help ease both diseases into remission. The Canine Health Foundation reports that 20 percent of adult dogs suffer from canine arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The most common form of autoimmune arthritis, RA affects some 1.3 million Americans, 75% of which are women. Although symptoms can manifest at any time, the disease often begins when the patient is 30 – 50 years old. RA is a chronic condition leading to joint pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased joint movement. The ailment most commonly affects tiny joints in the hands and feet. Sometimes, active RA impedes the function of organs, such as eyes, skin or lungs.Joint stiffness worsens in the morning and may last at least one to two hours. Moving the joints appears to alleviate some pain. Morning stiffness could signal RA, as this symptom is not common in most other conditions. That’s why I suggest taking walks – morning, noon and night – whether or not you suffer from human or canine arthritis.
The most common chronic condition of the joints, OA can negatively impact any joint. However, it most often manifests in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe. In a normal joint, a firm, rubbery substance (cartilage) covers the end of each bone. This material provides a smooth, gliding surface that cushions joint motion between the bones. Sounds like an important part of the body! People who have OA suffer because the cartilage deteriorates, leading to pain and swelling. As OA progresses, bits of bone or cartilage often chip off and float around in the joint. This leads to an inflammatory response, further damaging cartilage. In the final stages of OA, cartilage wears away altogether. Bones rub together. Permanent damage and significant pain can ensue.
Disaster Safety for Arthritis Sufferers
Extra preparation for emergency situations is critical for anyone with limited mobility (or full range-of-motion). What’s more, stress can spark a flare in arthritic symptoms, which can increase the risk of injury and infection. When it comes to disaster preparation, for maximum safety, the Arthritis Foundation tells patients to take steps prior to natural and manmade disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes and active shooter incidents.
How to Prepare
- Whenever possible, prepare in advance, such as in the case of hurricanes, which often come with advanced notice.
- Plan for events that come without warning, such as earthquakes, by preparing an emergency supply kit. I suggest stowing lots of bacon-favored treats in your kit.
- Communicate your emergency plan to family, friends, building occupants and colleagues.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet indicating your limitations, or make sure your cellphone contains ICE (In Case of Emergency)
- Fill extra prescriptions (with your doctor’s permission) and stow in a safe, dry place. Rotate them regularly. Don’t forget to include your pets’ meds!
- If your mobility is severe, register with local authorities so that first responders know what to do when they arrive on scene. Or, ask your building owner or manager to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System. The AUS system enables individuals who require special assistance to add their names to a list which can be viewed by first responders. What’s more, our fully-animated system offers building-specific information for emergency responders.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
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