Smoking and alcohol

Smoking is a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis. Since quitting smoking can improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, people who smoke should quit completely. Help in quitting is available and should be obtained, if needed.

Drinking alcohol in moderation is not harmful for people who have rheumatoid arthritis, although it may increase the risk of liver damage from some drugs such as methotrexate. Recommendations for alcohol use depend on the medications a person is taking and on his or her other medical conditions. Discuss the safety of alcohol use with your doctor.

Measures to reduce bone loss

Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. The use of prednisone further increases the risk of bone loss, especially in postmenopausal women.

You can do the following to help minimize the bone loss associated with steroid therapy:

  • Use the lowest possible dose of glucocorticoids for the shortest possible time, when possible, to minimize bone loss.
  • Get an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D, either in the diet or by taking supplements.
  • Use medications that can reduce bone loss, including that which is caused by glucocorticoids.
  • Control rheumatoid arthritis itself with appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/17/2017.


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