Here’s a fact you may not know: Arthritis doesn’t only afflict adults. That’s right—kids can get arthritis too, and it’s not something to ignore.
In honor of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, which takes place each July, we’re sharing information about this serious condition that all parents should know.
According to the CDC, 300,000 children have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in the U.S. This particular form of arthritis is different than the kind that adults experience. In kids, arthritis is thought to be an autoimmune disease.
The Arthritis National Research Foundation explains one key reason the condition is so serious: "A child's immune system is not fully formed until about age 18; so an 'autoimmune' form of arthritis is especially aggressive in children, compromising their ability fight normal diseases and leaving them open to complications that may affect their eyes, bone growth, etc." If left untreated, juvenile arthritis can lead to blindness and even death.
What are the signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis?
Most people don't realize children can be diagnosed with arthritis, so when symptoms arise, many parents understandably chalk them up to something benign that will pass. The problem is that this can delay the diagnosis of an aggressive disease. Here are the signs and symptoms that the Arthritis National Research Foundation says should prompt a consult with your child's pediatrician:
- Joint pain
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the eye
- Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing, and playing
Is there a cure for juvenile arthritis?
There is no cure for juvenile arthritis; however, doctors can treat it with various medications and therapies that improve function while reducing pain and damage to the joints. Some patients go into permanent remission—the ideal outcome. Even so, any previous joint damage will remain.
More research is needed on arthritis in kids, and the Arthritis National Research Foundation is funding this research on behalf of adults and children alike. Until a cure is here, donations are helping research efforts, people are spreading awareness, and of course, parents are encouraged to stay aware of potential symptoms for the health and wellness of their children.
About MORE Health and MORE Health for Kids
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