Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Disease
Being sick is no fun, and being constantly sick can take an emotional toll. Not getting better or having a repeated occurrence of symptoms can be exhausting and frustrating, not to mention concerning. If you find yourself sick for an extended period of time, there may be something more going on than a passing virus or cold. This blogs discusses the signs and symptoms of chronic disease and what you can do about it.
A chronic disease is one that sticks around for three months or more. There are many different kinds of chronic diseases. Examples include cancers, heart disease, asthma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and obesity. Some diseases, like obesity and cancer can be cured with long-term and intensive treatments, while other illness can only be managed. Not all illness are life-threatening. Some are annoyances that will persistently affect a person’s life. Chronic illnesses can make life difficult to manage. Tasks that once felt easy to do may now feel daunting. For example, someone suffering from severe arthritis might find opening jars, lifting bags and unscrewing the toothpaste cap difficult to do without pain or awkwardness.
So how can you know if you are simply sick or if you have the signs and symptoms of chronic disease?
It is easy to become paranoid over the slightest sign that something is wrong. With such easy access to resources on the internet, more and more people are self-diagnosing and coming up with wildly inaccurate conclusions. This does far more harm than good. Although it is impossible to know for sure what is going on without a doctor or medical professional performing an assessment and doing extensive tests, there are certain things you can do to help your medical team help you.
To start with, keep a record of what you are experiencing so that when you go to a doctor, you can answer questions accurately. This type of documentation should include your symptom, how frequently it occurs, what it feels like and if you notice any other changes in your body when this one symptom flares up. Also, if there is anything you do that helps this symptom feel better or worse, write that down too. You want to give your healthcare professional as much information as possible.
There is a difference between a sign of a disease and a symptom. A symptom is something like pain or anxiety. In other words, it is something that the afflicted person feels personally, while a sign would be something that indicates another underlying issue. For example, a bloody nose is a sign of a ruptured blood vessel. Signs generally can only be seen by an observer, typically a doctor or nurse. Medical professionals will compile the signs and symptoms present to come to a diagnosis.
Because there are so many different chronic illnesses out there, it is difficult to compile a comprehensive list of typical symptoms or signs for every chronic disease.
Arthritis or other inflammatory diseases are most often characterized by stiffness at tenderness at the joints. This discomfort is typically worse upon initially waking up or with excessive use. Arthritis is commonly diagnosed in older people and worsens as each year passes. There are anti-inflammatory treatments available, but arthritis is incurable.
For issues of the heart, it is more common to have breathing issues and symptoms in the head. This would include dizziness or nausea, as well as shortness of breath. It would not be uncommon to experience chest pain as well. The combination of these problems necessitate an immediate call to 911 and emergency services.
Symptoms of cancer are far too varied to even begin to list. It is better to attempt in prevention. Good eating habits, avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol use, not taking medication known to cause cancer as well as instituting healthy practices help prevent cancer. Know your family history too and be alert for any signs and changes you may notice in your body. Often times, a significant and unintentional weight loss, persistent fatigue, new onset of pain, decrease in appetite and change in bowels are the top indicators that cancer may be developing in your body. If prevention falls prey to poor luck or unfortunate family genes, then early detection is the best strategy for successful treatment. Get a yearly physical and don’t be doctor shy. Avoiding a physician appointment when you know you need to go will only give that developing tumor a chance to grow and invade other organs.
Education is key after receiving a diagnosis. Whatever it is, chronic illnesses can be extremely stressful for the afflicted. As long as the doctor’s orders are followed and the treatments are carried out and you do your part to be compliant, you are doing the best you can to heal your body and control the signs and symptoms of chronic disease.
Beyond that, starting a stress management routine can help you stay healthier. Keep an open mind and learn to live better with whatever physical restrictions and impairments are associated with the disease. At times it can feel like the disease is in control, which is why knowledge is important. Knowing what to expect will provide context and give meaning to the necessary treatment. Next, creating lifestyle changes to better support your body will decrease your symptoms and enhance day to day living.
The last really important aspect of dealing with chronic illnesses is socialization. When feeling unwell, it is common to begin to shut everyone out and spend more time alone. Whether it is from a lack of energy, feeling generally unwell or well intentioned loved ones warding off visitors, isolation and chronic disease often go hand in hand. Long-term isolation, though, can cause more complications and lead to depression so do your best to be social.
The signs and symptoms of chronic disease can be frustrating to deal with day to day, but there are many treatments and therapies available. Being aware of unusual or persistent symptoms is important for detection and prevention. Though not always reliable and definitive, your choice to track your symptoms can help a medical professional with diagnosis and treatment planning.