6 Ideas to Help Manage Chronic Illness
In my experience with chronic illness, I have searched desperately and avidly for as much related information as possible in an attempt to help myself and raise awareness of health issues, visibility for people who have them. As I learned more and more about my conditions and what made them difficult to manage, there were less and less helpful guides I found. I always wished for something that would try, really try, to address certain problems with the solutions most places offered.
When I came across The Mighty, I was pleased at its existence and immediately wanted to offer my solutions, too. While I know these recommendations may not work for everyone or even most people, if they help a single person in any positive way, I know they will have been worth it to write.
1. Drink plenty of fluids, and vary them.
Water is a great help, but it’s not the only drink with health benefits. If your throat or stomach hurts, milk with honey, tea, ginger ale, or another carbonated drink may help, and tend to go down fairly easily. In small doses, caffeine can help alleviate headache pain and banish drowsiness. However, too much and it can worsen insomnia and increase headache frequency. Moderation is the best diet plan, with the most timely and reasonable results.
2. Get plenty of rest.
Insomnia is a demon, that fancies and often accompanies chronic pain. Sleeping pills are typically helpful. However, it isn’t the only or even always the most helpful course of action. Earplugs are a good option, yet, they may not do much, if anything, to diminish noise levels if you’re like me and highly sensitive to them. Retreating under the covers can be too hot, and the strap of an eye mask too painful (still, if you experience migraines, it may be good to get one with a pocket for an ice pack). If you need light, but not too much light, an ocean or starry night projector with white noise sounds might be favorable. A combination of methods tailored to your distinct needs produces the fastest and, habitually, most restful sleep.
3. Figure out what your triggers are and avoid them to the best of your ability.
If your condition(s) can be brought on or aggravated by anything you do, it’s common sense to try to minimize the number of times you do those things. Triggers cannot always be avoided, but if, for instance, bright light causes you pain, you can wear sunglasses. You can even find slim and lightweight ones if pressure is also an issue.
4. See a healthcare professional regularly, and whenever your condition(s) notably changes.
Not only does this help maintain your health in the long run, but this allows for other, sometimes serious and life-threatening conditions to be caught in the meantime, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment by being discovered as early as possible. Follow their suggestions, at least, and attempt to unless you have an excellent and logical reason to act otherwise. Be honest with them so that they can give you their best, most accurate suggestions and professional opinions. If you think something is off, it’s important to let them know, even if you don’t think it’s that important, as it could be important for a reason you aren’t aware of. You know how your body is and how your health affects you best. Their expertise is the most valuable when they know it, too.
5. Talk to someone.
It may not change or have any significant effect on the physical pain, but having a strong support system always helps to get through it. If you feel that there is no one you know you can talk to, there are online support groups, often delegated to one or more types of conditions, as well as 24-hour hotlines.
Although people are never able to know exactly what you are going through, there are many who sympathize and are able to offer their personal experiences on what works for them and their illnesses, expert advice on dealing with them in addition to other people. A good rant, having someone to just listen to what’s been bothering or concerning you, can take some of the pressure off, as well as ease stress just by knowing that they’re willing to and want to help you. Let people help you, if they can, so that you don’t feel or have to do everything alone, saving and perhaps even strengthening your energy.
6. Be yourself.
It’s unnecessarily exhausting not to be, having to keep up a facade and your health at the same time. So long as you are in a safe place (and sometimes, even if you aren’t), stay true to who you are and your standards. Use your best judgment in life, and living it.
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Thinkstock Image By: Kalisson