NEW DELHI — The prevalence of auto-immune diseases, such as arthritis, which are more common in females with a female-to-male ratio ranging from 10:1 to 1:1, has increased manifold over the past decade, and the Covid pandemic has exacerbated the issue, says a medical expert.
“Around 15-20 per cent of the Indian population suffer with rheumatic musculoskeletal disorders. Majority of these involve multiple organs and develop the co-morbidities and resultantly their life span is reduced,” Dr Uma Kumar, Professor and Head of Department, Rheumatology, at All India Institute of Medical Sciences here, said.
Talking to IANS, Dr Kumar said that the Covid pandemic has unmasked various inflammatory diseases. “We have observed in the post-Covid era that auto-immune diseases like pain in joints, stiffness of body, incursion of muscle have increased along with other rheumatic disorder,” she said, adding that that though they were prevalent earlier also, the pandemic has increased the chance.
World Arthritis Day is observed to raise awareness of this critical medical illness every year in October. This year its theme “It’s in your hand, take action” aims to take the essential steps that can enhance the quality of life for individuals with arthritis.
Dr Kumar said: “As a result of the genetic makeup, the condition is more prevalent among women. They have XX sex chromosomes, while men have XY sex chromosomes. The X chromosome impacts a greater number of immune-related genes as well as the immune regulatory genes, which aids and induces immunological responses in the body.
“Female hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen, also participate in giving women immunity. The larger number of genes originating from the X chromosome creates a far greater possibility of a larger number of mutations occurring that places women at a greater risk of developing autoimmune diseases due to women having two X chromosomes.”
Activities such as walking, jogging, running and cycling along with control of weight can help in fighting and preventing arthritis, said Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra, Director Bone and Joint Institute, Fortis Escort, adding that more than a disease, it is an aging process.
“Till date there is no direct role of Covid-19 with arthritis but due to lockdown, activity and mobility was largely restricted which have aggregated the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It is only rheumatoid arthritis which commonly starts before 40 years and leads to multiple deformity at multiple joints that needs early and long-term treatment,” he said. However, he also said that all joint pain is not arthritis. — (IANS)