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Posted by Martin Hewitt on November 23, 2020
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
Long term health conditions and chronic illnesses affect more people in the UK than you might immediately realise. According to The King’s Fund, there are around 15 million people in England alone that have been diagnosed with a condition that is incurable but can be managed through medication, pain management and other forms of treatment. From a total population of 56 million, that’s a fair few!
For people living with a long term health condition, the impact on everyday life can be far-reaching. But this doesn’t mean people can’t live their lives as full as possible. To do that, we need to understand all the options, lifestyle changes and support available.
Coping with long term health conditions and diagnosis
Humans are blessed, and cursed, with a broad range of coping mechanisms. These differ from person-to-person and veer from the proactive and balanced to denial.
As no two people are the same, the first step to coping is allowing time to process and adjust to the diagnosis, if this has just happened.
This mental space should be ideally accompanied by a strong support network. Being able to confide in friends and family is crucial. For some people, the psychological impact may be best dealt with through professional help and therapy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is a popular form of talking therapy that can help learn how to manage stress, anger, fear, depression and other powerful emotions that are often linked to chronic illnesses.
Therapy, or a close shoulder to lean on, isn’t just helpful for new diagnoses. If you have been living with a health condition for many years, a strong support network is still crucial, and no doubt helps improve the daily quality of life.
UK healthcare provider BUPA also has some excellent advice on coping, including therapy, practising mindfulness (i.e. meditation, controlled breathing and ‘quieting’ the mind), and maintaining strong social connections.
As we all know the internet can be a mine of information however, much of it is often conflicting, so it’s wise to take a balanced approach when reading up about different conditions and, of course, speaking to your local GP or health professional.
Pain management and long-term health conditions
The British Pain Society has published an excellent information pack, Understanding and Managing Long-term Pain. This covers subjects such as exercise, manual therapy, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), acupuncture, drugs and injections. There’s also a section on using devices to overcome or lessen pain.
Many devices are linked to TENS and focus on electrical nerve stimulation. Such as the Beurer EM38 TENS Therapy Set. But as the British Pain Society explains, chronic pain has a significant impact on our mental health, sleep pattern and day to day mobility.
Ensuring we have a good night’s sleep or doing what we can to get the best night’s sleep possible, is no doubt important. This is where less complex products can have a really positive effect, such as the Harley Supersoft Comfort Pillow, or a neck collar designed for nighttime use. Both are made with long term health conditions in mind, and specifically the need to improve comfort to encourage better rest. (Don’t forget to consult your local health professional first though as you don’t want to make your condition worse!)
Gels and sprays can reduce pain by cooling down the area causing problems, while Hotteeze Heat Foot Pads do the complete opposite.
An inconvenient truth of many long-term health conditions is the ongoing medical attention that will be required after diagnosis.
There may be doctors and hospital appointments, on a regular basis. You’ll be meeting with a healthcare professional who can impart invaluable advice to take away. Preparing a list of questions you would like answering in advance can be useful and helpful.
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