How to Live with Chronic Illness

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It doesn’t feel so long ago when you thought your health was at its peak and you were enjoying life to its fullest. But one day, you started feeling unwell, prompting you to visit your doctor. After going through medical checkups and laboratory tests, you and your doctor discovered you have a chronic illness.

You’re not alone; chronic health conditions are so common that 60% of U.S. adults live with at least one. These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, to name a few. Many Americans even have two or more of these illnesses.

Getting diagnosed with a long-term illness can come as a blow, and it’s understandable to feel negative emotions as a result. However, even with such a health condition, you can still have a fulfilling life.

This guide offers insights and tips on coping and living with a chronic condition, so please read on.

Understand and Follow Your Treatment Plan

While most chronic conditions aren’t curable, they’re treatable, and their symptoms are manageable. However, for treatments to be effective, you must adhere to them and your doctor’s instructions.

Let’s use coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects over 20 million Americans, as an example. If your doctor diagnosed you with CAD, they may have also prescribed you cholesterol drugs and aspirin. They may tell you to take one of each daily.

Please follow your doctor’s instructions and take both medications as prescribed. Researchers say using the two together may be more effective than taking aspirin alone. So, by adhering to your prescription, you may be able to manage your CAD better.

Also, please don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist if there’s anything in your prescription you don’t understand. This way, you can be sure you know what, how, and when to take your medications.  

Make Health Monitoring at Home a Habit

Depending on your chronic illness, you may have to track some aspects of your health more closely. For example, if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, or diabetes, it’s vital to monitor your:

Weight and body mass index (BMI)

Blood pressure levels

Cholesterol levels

Blood glucose levels

Your doctor will teach you to measure those factors with the right equipment and their “safe” ranges. The Illinois Department of Health has a guide on these health-related numbers you can use as a reference.

If your numbers go below or exceed the “safe” range, inform your doctor immediately. This way, your doctor can determine and address the cause before it wreaks further havoc on your health.

Practice Healthier Eating Habits

Eating too many unhealthy foods contributes to chronic illness development. These include foods high in saturated or trans fats, sugar, salt, and preservatives. Many also contain little to no essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Fortunately, diet is a modifiable factor in the management of chronic diseases. You can start by minimizing your intake of unhealthy foods, such as:

Fast foods like burgers, pizzas, and anything deep-fried

Sugary cakes, biscuits, and pastries

Chocolates, candies, and other sweets

Highly processed meats like ham and bacon

Sugary beverages like soft, sports, and energy drinks

Instead of dining on those items regularly, replace them with healthier options, including:

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Nuts, seeds, and legumes

Lean protein

Whole grains

Low-fat dairy products

Seafood

Just as important is to stay within your daily calorie needs. You should also talk to your doctor about any potential food allergies.

If you drink alcohol, you should start limiting its intake or even quitting. Do the same if you smoke tobacco cigarettes or vape.

Put More Pep Into Your Step

Physical inactivity or being sedentary is not only a risk factor but is also a cause of chronic illnesses. Researchers estimate that it’s behind 6% to 10% of heart disease, diabetes, and premature mortality globally.

Being more physically active is even more crucial if you already have a chronic condition, as it can help:

Improve heart health by raising heart rate

Make weight loss and management achievable

Build muscle and keep the joints healthy and moving well

Strengthen the musculoskeletal system and ease pain

Expand the lungs and improve its functions

Exercise also has the added benefit of improving your mood by triggering the release of happy hormones. And as someone living with a chronic illness, you’d want to do whatever you can to live happily.

Before you start any exercise regimen, though, ask your doctor for advice. Depending on your health and chronic illness, you may have to avoid some exercises (e.g., those that may be too rigorous). Your doctor may also recommend specific exercises best suited to your condition.

Talk to Your Doctor About CAM

CAM stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It’s a collective term for medical products, practices, and services that are not part of standard medical care. It often includes holistic healing approaches such as the following:

Mind-body therapies, including meditation, tai-chi, and yoga

Biologically based practices like the use of natural remedies, such as herbs and spices

Manipulative and body-based practices like massage and chiropractic therapy for chronic pain 

You can also learn more about holistic and natural treatments by checking out the guides on the Highroad Enterprises website.

However, before integrating CAM into your treatment program, please speak to your doctor first. A good enough reason is that not all CAM approaches may work for or benefit you.

Experts have carefully evaluated some CAM therapies and found them generally safe and effective. Unfortunately, they also found others to be ineffective or have the potential to interact negatively with other medicines. Some may even cause harm.

Don’t Let Chronic Illness Hinder You From Enjoying Life

Just because you have a chronic illness doesn’t mean you can no longer live a fulfilling life. If you follow your treatment plan, monitor your health at home, eat healthier, and stay active, you can still enjoy life. Also, don’t forget to talk to your doctor about CAM, as some of its strategies may help you cope better with your condition.

Are you looking for more ideas to help you live healthier? Then, be sure to check out our recent health and wellness guides!

sofia
sofia
Waqar ( CEO B-rocklinker ) Is a highly experienced SEO expert with over 7 years of experience. He is working as a contributor on many reputable blog sites,

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