RA is finally being recognized as what it is: a set of symptoms – a syndrome – and not a disease. The importance of this admission is huge. If RA is not a disease, as it is now regarded by most of the medical establishment, researchers can begin looking for an underlying cause instead of considering the consequences of the disorder as the disease itself. There is an ocean of difference between the a syndrome and a disease.
The fact that it is not a disease is the reason Rheumatoid Arthritis is never a cause of death. Examples of other syndromes that are not diseases include irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, and mental illnesses. In each case, they are the result of something else and not a cause by themselves.
This is the best description I’ve seen of the difference between the two:
A syndrome refers to a group of symptoms, while a disease refers to an established condition.
A disease is a condition that is marked by 3 basic factors.
- An established biological cause behind the condition
- A defined group of symptoms
- Consistent change in anatomy due to the condition
A syndrome does not have any of these features. Even the symptoms that are present are usually not consistent, and definitely not traceable to a single cause. [Italics mine]
1. The symptom caused by a syndrome does not have an established reason behind it. In case of a disease, the cause is identified.
2. For the reason above, treatment of a syndrome is mainly symptomatic. In case of a disease, the underlying cause is treated.
3. A disease causes changes in the anatomy; a syndrome may not produce any such changes.
So what is the underlying condition that is the cause of the symptoms of RA? A growing body of evidence suggests that RA is an allergic reaction to foods. The actual disease causing our symptoms is in the ‘allergy’ category. That is very good news for us since it is within our ability to control our exposure to allergens.
Controlling exposure to food allergens is what this blog is about. As many of us can attest, we can completely eliminate the RA syndrome ourselves.