Are respiratory allergies a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
—Rosa Martinez, MD, Yakima, Wash.

Neither respiratory nor other allergic disorders are considered risk factors for RA induction, although smoking is thought to predispose patients to rheumatoid joint and lung disease. Some patients with RA who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may aggravate their allergic disease, with increased asthma or rhinitis symptoms. In recent testing, the specific COX-2 inhibitors appeared less likely to have this effect.
—Jack Waxman, MD (110-3)