Arthritis: New study uncovers link to liver disease and other underlying health conditions

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Arthritis is described by the NHS as “a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint”. Around 10 million people of all ages in the UK are affected by some form of arthritis. The disease is not static and can come in waves or flare-ups. Akin to other ailments and diseases it can cause and be caused by several factors.

According to Edith Cowan University in Australia there is a link between arthritis, liver disease, and a genetic condition known as haemochromatosis.

Haemochromatosis, says the NHS, “is an inherited condition where iron levels in the body slowly build-up over many years”.

If the condition isn’t treated efficaciously it can lead to damage to the liver, joints, heart, and pancreas.

Researchers have discovered in their study of haemochromatosis patients 84 percent of them had arthritis.

READ MORE: David Niven: Star’s battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease explained

Authors of the study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings said the results had implications for those living with haemochromatosis.

Symptoms of the condition include:
• Fatigue
• Weight loss
• Weakness
• Joint pain
• Erectile Dysfunction
• Irregular or absent periods.

The NHS recommends booking a GP appointment if an individual has “persistent or worrying symptoms” or “a parent or sibling with haemochromatosis”.

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Author of the study into the link with arthritis and liver disease Professor John Olynyk said: “Since hepatic fibrosis improves with treatment, it is important to accurately determine the presence or absence of advanced hepatic fibrosis when patients are evaluated.

“We recommend people with haemochromatosis who present with arthritis to be properly evaluated for the presence of advanced hepatic fibrosis.”

Although liver disease can be treated with ease in its early stages, if cirrhosis of the liver develops patients may require a liver transplant.

In recent months the UK has been working at pace to find out the cause behind an outbreak of acute hepatitis cases in children.

The outbreak began in Scotland earlier this year and has spread outside the UK to over 12 countries.

So far over 600 cases have been identified worldwide with 197 of those cases present in the UK.

Although doctors are able to treat the new form of hepatitis, the reason for its spread and cause remains an enigma.

Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba Jason Kindrachuk said: “The playing field is changing on an hour-to-hour basis.”

Professor Kindrachuk added: “Inch by inch, we’re starting to figure out what this problem is. But I don’t think we have all the pieces of the puzzle yet to say ‘OK, this is what we think is going on.’”

Despite the progress an answer has not yet been deciphered from the web of viral information flooding in.

So far, several potential causes have been investigated including family pets, Covid lockdowns, and the adenovirus.

At the moment scientists are focussing their efforts on investigating whether the outbreak has been caused by the COVID-19 virus.



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