According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 adults in the USA suffer from chronic illness, and 4 out of 10 suffer from two or more. Chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, AIDS, and various types of cancer are responsible for numerous deaths each year and account for $3.8 trillion in annual healthcare costs.
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be a life-altering experience for the patient and their loved ones. After diagnosis, you need to change your lifestyle habits and take steps to make pain management easier.
While this process may seem quite overwhelming, there are many ways to manage symptoms, discomfort, and treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with long-term diseases, here are some tips that might come in handy while making treatment and care management more manageable.
Arrange for the money
Treating medical conditions such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease can be quite expensive. Medicines, tests, appointment fees, and a host of medical expenses can burn a hole through your savings. So ensure that you have enough medical coverage to manage treatment. Buy a good health insurance plan or look for financial aid from philanthropic establishments.
You may also want to get some legal advice if you feel your condition is due to asbestos exposure. This naturally-occurring mineral causes a rare but fatal form of cancer, mesothelioma, and you may be entitled to compensation from an asbestos trust fund or an ex-employer. Getting legal counsel will provide you access to more information and help you sort out your finances.
Manage your mental health
Coping with a chronic disease can be stressful for everyone involved. The uncertainty of outcomes and symptoms can cause anxiety and depression, leading to declining mental health. You may begin to lose interest in things that you once loved. These feelings can cause you to lose hope and ignore your treatment plan. So, it is essential to prioritize your mental well-being and ensure your remaining days are happy and healthy.
It will help if you consult a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist. These professionals can help you navigate the stressful thoughts running through your head, including insecurities about your future, the incalculability of your illness, financial stress, and emotional stress. You can discuss your problems with a counselor and find effective coping mechanisms to maintain good mental health during recovery. A mental health specialist will also teach you different relaxation techniques you can employ to keep your emotional woes at bay.
Eat a nutritious meal
Many chronic illnesses are caused by poor eating habits. Therefore, one way to manage them better post a diagnosis is to change your eating habits. So, stop eating unhealthy junk food and sugary foods. These tempting edibles will only worsen your condition down the road. Unhealthy food can increase the risk of heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.
Instead, switch to healthy and nutritious meals. Add more fruits and veggies to your plate, along with lean meats, legumes, fiber, and dairy. You can even consult with your doctor or dietitian to develop a customized meal plan best-suited to meet your body’s nutritional requirements during illness. Eating healthy will reduce symptoms such as bloating and inflammation and keep your immune system strong.
Patients dealing with chronic health issues tend to avoid physical activity because they fear hurting themselves. However, being inert only adds to the physical pain, anxiety, and depression. Thus, you must indulge in some form of physical activity to keep your mode positive and your body healthy.
Consult with your doctor to develop a manageable exercise plan. You don’t have to hit the gym, but a light walk for 30 minutes every day will suffice. Walking will keep your heart rate and blood sugar at an optimal level. Also, you can try alternative forms of exercise such as meditation and breathing exercises. These are beneficial if you want to avoid walking, jogging, and risking injury.
A good night’s sleep is essential for promoting good mental and physical health. It helps to reduce stress, inflammation, pain and allows your body to heal naturally. A tired and sleep-deprived body is more likely to fall, have a poor immune response, and worsen a chronic illness.
So, you should get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, start by putting your phone on DND mode. Avoid taking naps during the day if you feel they disturb your sleep routine. You should also avoid drinking coffee or tea before heading to bed. If the insomnia is bad, consult a specialist and get a prescription.
Join a support group
Having a solid support system is crucial for managing chronic illness. While your friends and family will almost always be an integral part of your support system, they will never truly be able to empathize. Hence, joining a support group with similar patients and survivors can be more beneficial in getting the moral and emotional support you need while battling chronic illness.
In these groups, patients and survivors share their experiences and strategies of coping with mental and physical symptoms. You will feel at ease among people like you. You will be able to discuss your problems with people who understand them better than your loved ones. So, consult your doctor or look on the internet if you want to join relevant support groups.
Battling with a chronic illness is a difficult endeavor. However, a little motivation and sound advice can make the journey more manageable. This article mentions a few helpful tips you can use. You may have to make drastic lifestyle changes, but with the right support, you’ll be able to do it. But always remember to check in with your doctor to avoid any complications later down the road.
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