Why Monitoring Chronic Illnesses is Important and What You Can Do

When a person is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it’s important to go for checkups and make lifestyle changes. Building a relationship with your doctor will help you stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so that you can have the best quality of life while managing your condition.

What is a Chronic Illness?

Chronic illnesses or diseases are long-term medical conditions that often gradually progress with time in scope and/or severity. A few examples include:

Cancer
Asthma
Arthritis
Epilepsy

HIV/AIDS

Diabetes

Osteoporosis

Cystic fibrosis

Heart Disease

Crohn’s disease

Multiple sclerosis

Parkinson’s disease

High blood pressure

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) / progressive lung diseases

How Can You Stay as Healthy as Possible?

1. Do research

You want to understand what is happening and why, so, first talk to your doctor about your condition. For more in-depth information, ask your doctor which sources you can trust to provide accurate medical information.

2. Take Action

Once you know more, put the information to use. Listen to your body and document changes and symptoms. If there are ways to test yourself, do it, for example, use home test kits (if relevant and/or available); check your blood pressure; check your pulse; and weigh yourself. When you monitor yourself you’ll be able to act faster if you notice changes.

3. Rely on Multiple Experts

Sometimes the opinion of your general practitioner (GP) or specific specialist is not enough. A group of experts could be more useful when it comes to appropriate exercise, diet needs, breaking bad habits, etc.

4. Inform Your Network

Make sure your different doctors and specialists are all up to date with your state of health. When everyone has all the pieces of the puzzle, they can work together to help you more effectively.

5. Lifestyle Changes are Essential

Besides watching your weight, exercising and giving up bad habits (for example smoking), it helps to invest in yourself, whether that’s seeing a dietician, getting a personal trainer or just spending the time and energy to plan meals, stick to routines and arranging regular checkups.

6. Don’t Do it Alone

Healthy changes can benefit family and friends as well. Get the important people in your life to join in and improve your lifestyles together.

7. Make the Most of Your Medications

Some people hardly ever take pills; others have a few basics at home. With a chronic illness, you’re bound to need a few medications to help manage your condition. Talk to the relevant people (your doctor, nurse and/or pharmacist) to find out how the meds work; why it’s important that you take them; when are the best times to take them; and possible side effects to be aware of.

8. Depression is Not Uncommon

It’s normal to experience a change in mood (it happens to about 30% or more people with chronic diseases). The problem with depression is that it can affect how you manage your condition. If you’re experiencing symptoms, speak to a medical professional, because the last thing you need is reaching a state where you miss regular checkups, don’t drink your meds and neglect healthy habits.

9. There are Others Out there

Think about joining a support group for extra help. It often makes a difference to know you’re not alone and to discuss each other’s experiences

10. Make Important Decisions

This last one is a terrible task many have to face. If your chronic disease severely influences your life expectancy, you have to start thinking about planning for your future. Think about the type of care you’ll need, and want. Some solutions you’ll have to save for; others will require paying for monthly medical and/or other policies that will eventually help cover the bills. There are also documents that need to be in place to help your family make difficult decisions when you no longer can.

Building a Relationship with Your Doctor

It’s important to keep seeing your doctor(s) to discuss how you feel emotionally, what you feel physically and to learn more about the next steps that could help you manage the chronic disease. A chronic disease is something that requires constant management and by knowing more you can usually cope better.

Convenient Technology

Remember to ask your doctor or pharmacist about convenient technology, especially when it comes to home test kits. Not all brands are reliable, so find out which ones are safe and provide accurate results.

For more information about chronic diseases, please get in touch with Bridge Clinic Email enquiries@thebridgeclinic.com , call +234 (0) 1 631 0092 or click here to book an appointment.