alt=a man sleeping, using a CPAP machine

Unusual Symptoms of RA

Last updated: January 2023

Painfully red, swollen joints are the most apparent annoyance when living with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, did you know many unusual symptoms can be connected to RA? These symptoms may be located in different body areas, from the ears and mouth to the lungs.

4 unusual symptoms of RA

Some of the symptoms linked to RA seem very random and obscure, but they occur, and it’s good to be aware of them to seek proper treatment.

1. Hearing loss and ringing

Research shows hearing loss or tinnitus (unusual buzzing, ringing, or whistling in your ear) can be symptoms connected to RA.1 Typically, hearing issues are seen in older people who have been dealing with RA for a long time. In addition, certain medications such as NSAIDS or hydroxychloroquine used to reduce RA pain can have an effect on hearing and ringing in the ears as well.2

If you are experiencing any hearing or ear issues, reach out to your doctor to have your ears checked and avoid permanent or worsening hearing loss.

2. Sleep apnea

Another unusual symptom that is closely related to RA is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be defined as periodic episodes of "stop and start" breathing during sleep. Often, people with sleep apnea snore very loudly, gasp for air, or experience poor quality sleep leading to headaches and fatigue.3

Sleep apnea can be treated using a device called a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, to help force oxygen into the lungs and restore restful sleep.3

3. Numbness in fingers and toes

RA increases the risk of Raynaud's phenomenon, a disease that affects the blood flow in the fingers and toes. During an episode of Raynaud's, blood flow will slow down, leaving one or two fingers or toes pale, cold, blueish, and numb. An episode can be caused by the weather, stress, or certain medications and usually goes away with some medical management, such as applying heat.4

4. Gum disease

As RA worsens, it can have a negative impact on your oral health. According to research, worsening RA is linked to gum inflammation, or gingivitis, which can lead to gum and tooth damage. Oral health is an important indicator of physical health, making regular checkups and good dental hygiene a vital step in living with RA.5

Have you experienced any of these unusual symptoms while living with RA? What other symptoms do you have? Please share your story with us below!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

On average, how many times per month do you (or your caretaker) go to the pharmacy?