Living With Multiple Chronic Health Conditions

Many people don’t just live with one chronic health condition, but often several conditions. Some of these health problems may be knock-on effects from other conditions (for instance, those with conditions that affect mobility may be more likely to gain weight and develop diabetes). In other cases, chronic health conditions may be totally unrelated. Whatever the case, it’s important that you are able to manage these multiple health conditions.

Keep healthcare professionals informed

Healthcare systems are often set up to deal with illnesses on an individual basis. As a result, you may end up talking to different healthcare professionals about different health conditions. It’s important that each one of these healthcare professionals is informed about your other conditions.

Getting a medical diagnosis for all your conditions could help to ensure that it is updated on your medical records. This can allow doctors to find the best treatment that won’t interfere with other conditions.

It’s important to tell healthcare professionals about the medication you’re taking – particularly over-the-counter medicine which won’t be included on your medical records. Taking certain types of medication together could be dangerous: these include combos such as aspirin and ibuprofen or antihistamines and motion-sickness pills.

Organise your meds

Coping with multiple chronic health conditions could mean having to take a cocktail of drugs. Make sure that you know the exact dosage of each drugs, as well as the exact day and time that you’re supposed to take it. You don’t want to accidentally overdose or miss your medication.  

A tablet box could help to divide up your medication for each day so that you know what you should be taking. It could also be worth setting alarms so that you take pills at the right times of the day. Some people even use pill dispensers to dispense specific pills at the right time.

Make sure that medication is stored at the right temperature, otherwise it could become ineffective (medication that needs to be stored at room temperature should be kept away from heat sources). Make sure to also check the expiry date on medication before you consume it – the likes of antibiotics can become ineffective if taken after their expiry date.  

Be prepared to make treatment trade-offs

When seeking out treatment for one health condition, you need to be sure that it’s not going to have a negative impact on another health condition. For instance, if you have anaemia, high blood pressure or an anaesthesia allergy, certain types of surgery may not be possible or may come with higher risks.

This could mean having to make treatment trade-offs in certain cases. A healthcare professional will likely be able to give their professional opinion on the best option for you. It is ultimately your choice as to which treatments you’re willing to take the risk with.

Make necessary lifestyle changes

Many chronic health conditions require making lifestyle changes. Prioritise the lifestyle changes that are going to have the most positive impact on all of your health conditions.

Reducing stress is almost certain to help with every type of medical condition. Too much stress can slow down healing, heighten blood pressure, increase inflammation and exacerbate pain. By taking steps to de-stress, you may find that symptoms of your condition are reduced.

Getting the right amount of exercise is also important. Regular exercise can reduce pain and improve blood flow, helping to make many conditions more bearable. It can also help you to shed excess weight that could make certain health conditions worse. It’s important to engage in the right types of exercise – some exercises could be dangerous if you have certain conditions. Low impact exercises like swimming and pilates tend to be suitable for most conditions.

It could also be worth taking steps to change your diet. Getting the right nutrition could help to reduce certain symptoms. This means upping vitamins and healthy proteins, while reducing processed fat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Dietary changes are particularly important when it comes to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, celiac, food allergies and food-triggered migraines – such conditions are almost entirely caused by one’s diet.

Finally, if you smoke, you should definitely consider giving up this habit. As well as being a cause of many chronic health conditions, smoking can aggravate many symptoms by restricting blood flow and increasing cortisol levels. By giving up smoking, you’ll almost certainly improve your condition in the long run. Switching to e-cigarettes and limiting your nicotine intake could be a healthier option.

 

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