British Lung Foundation
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Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypothyroidism and frequent chest infections

I am now 43 and was diagnosed with Underactive Thyroid at 30 and RA at 34. I have been on Methotrexate since RA diagnosis and tried various other DMARDS but none were helpful. 2 years ago, I was approved to try an anti TNF called Cimzia. It was very successful at putting my RA into remission. However, as I have a 6 year old who likes to share every cold virus going with me, I have had frequent chest infections. Last August I had Pneumonia and I was so ill. It took many courses of antibiotics and increased prednisolone dose to clear but left me feeling run down for weeks. I now have another chest infection and chest X-ray confirmed Bronchitis but showed 'changes' to my lungs. Again I have had 4 courses of antibiotics and now high dose Prednisolone and although my symptoms have improved, the wheeziness is terrible and it feels like I'm breathing through water if I take deep breaths. I am now very concerned that I have problems with my lungs associated with RA. I talked to my GP yesterday and she said once I'd got well they would run some tests. I'm not sure what they would be, so wondered if anyone could give an advice on their experiences? It's really frightening me as my son has Severe Autism and Learning Difficulties and I am his main carer 😔

6 Replies

I can't answer your questions but welcome to the forum. :)


Hi I am glad your RA is now in remission. I have psoriatic arthritis witch is treated the same as RA I have been taking DMARDS for two years now. I also have COPD. I think it will be the medication that has damaged your lungs. I was offered methotrexate but when my consultant told me that they could damage your lungs. I refused to take them. With already having damaged lungs. DMARD's are also immunesupressants. I am seeing a immunologist at the moment as I was getting infection after infection. And my resp consultant couldn't do any thing more for me. She did tests and found my immune system was very low and vit d level was also low. And I have been put on Azithromycin and vit d tablets. But have had to have my DMARDS reduced by my rheumy consultant due to taking Azithromycin. I have started going to a salt cave and also have a salt pipe. Witch has helped with my breathlessness. Hope you get some answers soon take care.


My first thought is that you presumably have a consultant rheumatologist? and a respiratory consultant? What are their views? I know that RA can have an impact on lungs and it does not look as if your GP is taking it seriously enough. Push for more tests and scans. I know it is hard but there is a lot at stake.

All the best


Hello Ruthmin .

Welcome to this forum. So glad you found it.

I have RA . I was diagnosed about nine years ago. Two almost three years ago I was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans a lung disease of the small airways a manifestation of RA.

Of course not everyone with RA will get such a life threatening illness as this, so please don't think that. Without in depth testing it is impossible to diagnose what these 'changes' mean in your lungs. Your GP is right in wanting to do further tests. Has he suggested what kind of tests he/she has in mind? Perhaps even refer you to a pulmonologist?

Because your child is so young, he is bound to pick up all sorts of viruses as you know. The only thing you can do is to try and make sure you and he are diligently washing your hands and when possible using antibacterial wipes. Easier said than done, I understand. I have two girls but they are all grown up now. Sometimes despite all precautions you still get infections.

Is your RA well under control at the moment?

I know this is very frightening and you have a young child with special needs that needs you. Just take it a day at a time. Some days seem much worse than others. Please know this forum is very supportive and you can come here anytime for support. If you would like to please don't hesitate to message me. I'm not sure what I can do to help but I will do what I can.

Please do keep us updated. Thinking of you.

Cas xx 🐞🍀🐞🍀


Thanks Cas. I thought you would be helpful and supportive, as always.

Kate xxx

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Thank you for your replies. I am due to see Rheumatology Nurse in July. My Rheumatologist has just left and not sure when I'll see one. I will make an appointment to go back and see GP in a few weeks when this current infection has gone. Many thanks for the support.


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