Complications of RA (Scroll down for complications of SS)

In addition to joints, the autoimmune process of RA can also affect the eyes, lungs, skin, heart and blood vessels, and other organs, including the heart and lungs not to mention the side effects of medications taken for the RA, shortening the life of sufferers by a few years in some individuals. Although. For instance, methotrexate, can potentially cause lung problems, characterized by shortness of breath, cough, and fever. Symptoms tend to improve when methotrexate is stopped.

Systemic inflammation puts people with RA at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent research shows that people with RA have an increased risk of heart attack that is about the same as for people with type 2 diabetes. Having RA also increases risk of stroke.

Additionally, living with the pain and limitations of a chronic disease can take a toll on your emotional as well as physical health. One recent study showed that almost 11% of people with RA had moderate severe to severe depression.

Complications, according to the National Institute of Health, that may occur include:
  • Anemia due to failure of the bone marrow to produce enough new red blood cells
  • Damage to the lung tissue (rheumatoid lung)
  • Injury to the spinal cord when the cervical spine (neck bones) becomes unstable as a result of RA
  • Rheumatoid vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), which can lead to skin ulcers and infections, bleeding stomach ulcers, and nerve problems that cause pain, numbness, or tingling. Vasculitis may also affect the brain, nerves, and heart, which can cause stroke, heart attack, or heart failure.
  • Swelling and inflammation of the outer lining of the heart (pericarditis) and of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Both of these conditions can lead to congestive heart failure.
  • Sjogren syndrome
Eye conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis may include:
  • Dry eyes. Generally, artificial tears can ease the discomfort of dry eyes. It's important to note that dry eyes can also be a symptom of Sjogren's syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that's often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eye (uveitis). Uveitis may cause eye redness and pain, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Treatment may include corticosteroid eyedrops and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Inflammation of the white part of the eye (scleritis). Scleritis is usually characterized by constant, severe eye pain. Treatment may include corticosteroid eyedrops and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye (episcleritis). Episcleritis may cause sudden eye discomfort or redness. Treatment may include eye lubricants, corticosteroid eyedrops and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Glaucoma. Inflammation within the eye can affect the eye's drainage system, ultimately leading to glaucoma — a condition that can result in blindness. Depending on the type of glaucoma, signs and symptoms may include gradual vision loss, eye pain or blurred vision. Treatment may include medicated eyedrops or oral medications. In some cases, surgery is needed.
  • Cataracts. Several factors may lead to clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye (cataracts), including inflammation within the eye and long-term use of topical corticosteroid drops — often prescribed to treat other eye problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Signs and symptoms may include cloudy, blurred or dim vision. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the clouded lens.
A detailed list of complications are available here.

Complications of Sjogren's Syndrome

The most common complications of Sjogren's syndrome involve your eyes and mouth.
  • Dental cavities. Because saliva helps protect the teeth from bacteria, you're more prone to developing cavities if your mouth is dry. People with SS need to be hypervigilent about dental hygeine and professional cleanings and checl-ups. Dentsists recommend use of products such as Biotene toothpaste and Bitotene mpouthwash. othe rproducts include Oasis mouth wash.
  • Yeast infections. People with Sjogren's syndrome are much more likely to develop oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.
  • Vision problems. Dry eyes can lead to light sensitivity, blurred vision and corneal ulcers. Ocular (eye) dryness can lead to chronic keratoconjunctivitis and corneal ulcers.
  • Dehydration.  Many people with Sjogren's syndrome report dehydration that leads to dangerously low blood pressure (lower than 90/60). Dehydration is avoided by drinking frequently and also by ingesting fluids high in electrolytes such as coconut water which is high in potassium but does not have the sugar in sports drinks such as Gatorade.  Coconust water is availble from O.N.E., Naked, and Vico brands and is sold at Whole Foods and other health food stores and online.
  • Digestive problems. Inflammation in the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and liver can cause problems such as:
    • Painful swallowing
    • Heartbure
    • Abdominal pain and swelling
    • Loss of appetite
    • Constipation (which can be relived with Miralax) or diarrhea. probiotics also help with regularity.
    • Weight loss
    • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and cirrhosis (hardening of the liver). Sjogren's syndrome is closely linked to a liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), which causes itching, fatigue, and, eventually, cirrhosis. Elevated liver enzymes occur in 25 percent of patients; liver enlargement in 33 percent.
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Raynaud's syndrome occurs in 20 percent of people with SS
  • Fibromyalgia occurs in 55 percent of people with SS.
  • Lungs, kidneys or liver. Inflammation may cause pneumonia, bronchitis or other problems in your lungs; may lead to problems with kidney function; and may cause hepatitis or cirrhosis in your liver.
  • Unborn baby. If you're a woman with Sjogren's syndrome and you plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about being tested for certain autoantibodies that may be present in your blood. In rare cases, these antibodies have been associated with heart problems in newborns.
  • Lymph nodes. A small percentage of people with Sjogren's syndrome develop cancer of the lymph nodes (lymphoma, occurring in less than 5% of people with SS).
  • Nerves. You may develop numbness, tingling and burning in your hands and feet. Neurological complications of Sjogren's Syndrome can be divided into neuromuscular manifestations occurring in 10-20% of patients; central nervous system complications in 25% of patients, and subclinical disease that may be present on laboratory or histological studies, the extent of which is undetermined. 
  • Nasal dryness, nosebleeds, congestion, and impaired taste and smell, as well as more serious conditions, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, caused by damage to mucous glands in the nose
  • Dryness in the eustachian tubes of the inner ear, which can lead to a clogged feeling in the ear and impaired hearing
  • Dry skin, itching
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Nutritional malabsorption, caused by affected mucous lining of the stomach
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Fuggy/fuzzy concentration, impaired memory and reduced concentration

It is advised that people with RA and/or SS take high doses of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (EFAs) which have been shown to alleviate symptoms of autoimmune disease by supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation from fish oil, flax or hemp as well as probiotics to reduce digestive complications. More here.