What it’s like Living with Asthma, Diabetes, and Other Chronic Diseases
Dealing with a chronic illness is not as simple as taking a few antibiotics as you admire your “Get Well Soon” cards. Most patients with chronic diseases unfortunately don’t get well soon. Instead, they learn how to live with a long-standing condition and hopefully how to manage their symptoms effectively.
For individuals recently diagnosed with a chronic disease, or those wanting to understand what life is like for those people you care about living with chronic conditions, check out some of the helpful information below.
We’ll go through a few common chronic disease examples that our family doctors in St. George, UT work with at Callahan Clinic. We won’t fit every type of chronic condition into our list this time around. However, if you suffer from these or other chronic diseases, don’t hesitate to reach out to our family health center physicians for personalized and compassionate chronic care.
Living with Hypertension
Hypertension is sometimes referred to as high blood pressure or HBP. It is a condition characterized by a patient’s blood putting too much pressure or force against its arteries. This may cause the heart to work harder to supply blood to the entire body.
High blood pressure can be caused by the existence of another chronic condition like diabetes or chronic kidney disease. However, other causes can include obesity, a lack of physical activity, a high-sodium diet, or an increased amount of stress. Unlike other chronic diseases, patients with hypertension sometimes won’t experience any symptoms. Seeing your family physician regularly for preventative wellness exams can help diagnose this condition sooner.
Since hypertension doesn’t often have symptoms associated with it, living with this chronic disease doesn’t seem like it would change a patient’s life dramatically. However, without the right management, hypertension can lead to more serious health risks such as a stroke or heart disease.
Those with hypertension are recommended to adopt lifestyle changes that will help lower their blood pressure. They will need to exercise more frequently and avoid foods with high sodium content. It will also help to avoid situations that cause high amounts of anxiety or stress and understand what may trigger those emotions.
Living with Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition that is often diagnosed when a patient is a child, although many adults are also diagnosed with it later in life. It is a condition in which the individual’s airways become inflamed, making them more sensitive to outside triggers that can tighten or close airways altogether.
Some cases of asthma are more extreme than others. While one person you know only experiences mild wheezing or occasional gasps for breath, another individual may experience frequent and severe asthma attacks. Symptoms can also change over time.
Asthma medications and an inhaler are often prescribed to help reduce the impact of symptoms. An inhaler, especially, is good to have on hand in case a sudden asthma attack blocks airways.
Some asthma patients live with the recurring fear of being unable to breathe. If you notice a loved one with asthma suffering from an acute asthma attack, take them to the hospital if they are still having difficulty breathing with their inhaler. This isn’t something that you can take away from them, but you can do your best to remain calm and help them receive the care they need.
Living with High Cholesterol
High cholesterol affects nearly a third of all American adults, but even some children can inherit this chronic disease or live in such a way that encourages its development. It’s caused by an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Unlike “good” cholesterol that is absorbed back into your body, LDL remains in your arteries, eventually blocking blood flow.
Like hypertension, individuals with high cholesterol won’t always show symptoms. Meeting your family practice doctor will be vital here, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
Once diagnosed with high cholesterol, individuals will need to make some lifestyle adjustments to filter out their LDL intake and replace it with good cholesterol. Foods with saturated and trans fats should be avoided and replaced with low-fat foods including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. We also recommend that patients begin to exercise a little every day to help avoid the dangerous complications that can come from blocked arteries and high cholesterol.
If your loved one with this chronic condition is struggling to make such changes, encourage them by establishing the same habits in your own life. It always helps to have a friend or loved one supporting a patient in any way they can. (Read more about managing high cholesterol here!)
Living with Diabetes
Type 1 or type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can show symptoms in a patient. Such symptoms include, but are not limited to, extreme weight loss, a frequent need to urinate, and wounds that are slow to heal. It is a chronic disease that affects a patient’s ability to process glucose or blood sugar.
Diabetes medication and insulin shots for type 1 diabetics can help keep blood sugar levels at a healthy level as will an active lifestyle and diet changes.
Because there is no known cure and because it will alter a person’s life dramatically, this can be an overwhelming diagnosis for families and individuals. Patients with diabetes will require frequent visits to a family care physician. That on top of checking glucose levels multiple times a day, administering insulin, and watching what you eat can become tiresome for individuals.
Again, this unfortunately isn’t something you can take away from someone you love. But you can be there to encourage them. Fill your pantry with healthy snacks and other foods that are good for managing diabetes. Participate in exercise together and learn the warning signs of low or high glucose levels.
Chronic Disease Management in St. George, UT
As the name suggests, chronic diseases are ongoing. Patients won’t be able to receive a one-and-done treatment. However, they can get on a chronic disease management program that helps them to live life to its fullest.
For individualized help managing your chronic conditions such as the ones listed above, contact the caring doctors at Callahan Clinic! Our St. George Family Clinic helps patients of all ages establish healthy habits for their specific chronic disease. Contact us today to begin designing a management program with our compassionate physicians.