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Diagnosing Fibromyalgia Can Be Long, Difficult Process

Because of newer, comprehensive methods for treating fibromyalgia, including lifestyle approaches and medication, the prognosis for fibromyalgia patients is slowly improving.  But first a doctor needs to make an accurate diagnosis, which isn’t easy.

On average, it takes 2 to 3 years to get a diagnosis, and research shows that people with fibromyalgia typically see many doctors before getting one.  Even with a doctor who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia, it still takes time.

While much research has been devoted to fibromyalgia, a syndrome defined by debilitating widespread muscle pain, cognitive impairment, lack of restorative sleep and extreme fatigue, it is still contested by some in the medical community.  Moreover, there remains considerable disagreement about fibromyalgia’s cause, whether it is psychological or physical, and how to treat it.

That lack of conformity is unfair to the millions living with the real pain and sickness fibromyalgia brings in its wake. Fibromyalgia takes a toll on mental and physical health, relationships and quality of life.

Read the Rest of the Article at the Pain News Network.

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My Letter to the Single Parent With Chronic Illness

Being a single parent with chronic illness can be lonely, scary, and confusing. If you’re also in this situation, patient advocate Lana Barhum shares a letter just for you, filled with what she’s learned from eight years of single parenting with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

“Some days, you will doubt yourself and your ability to do it all without a partner and with chronic illness. Just remember, you’ve got this.”

Dear Single Parent with Chronic Illness,

I know you are often sick, tired, and in pain. Some days, you find yourself at a breaking point. There are probably many occasions when you question your ability to parent with chronic illness.

You have been depressed, anxious, scared, angry, and resentful – at your former partner, family and friends, the universe, and sometimes, even the kids you love more than your own life. When you are sick and alone, it’s tough to make ends meet while dealing with school drop-offs and pick-ups, housework, dinner, and so much more.

I know you put on a happy face even it feels like you have nothing left to give. I know because I have been there. Please know that you are allowed to:

 Stop trying so hard. Housework isn’t everything, and neither are home-cooked meals. If toys stay on the living room floor until morning, or dinner came out of the freezer because you are not feeling well, no one cares – especially not your kids. I am no longer obsessed with what I think good parenting looks like. The not-so-clean place, the store-bought cake, and the delivery pizza all save me recovery time. It is also time better spent with my children.

Read the rest at Mango Health.

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Is Fibromyalgia Like a Software Problem?

Earlier this year, the British Pain Society released an interesting study on the development of a new method to help doctors better communicate with fibromyalgia patients about their pain and symptoms.

That narrative, which takes the unusual approach of comparing fibromyalgia to a software problem in a computer, is geared towards motivating patients to focus on exercise and other lifestyle changes, as opposed to pain medication.
“This study provides evidence that a framework incorporating a computer based analogy provides an acceptable story that helps FM (fibromyalgia) patients understand their illness and motivates them to engage in evidence based lifestyle adaptations that enhance recovery,” wrote lead author Michael Hyland, PhD, a professor of Health Psychology at Plymouth University in the UK.

Read more at the Pain News Network.

***I don’t have any opinions on the study.  Just reporting the news. 🙂
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Disclosure of Chronic Illness in the Workplace

Should you reveal health issues at work? Whom should you tell, and what should you say? Here’s how to handle these delicate questions.

There’s a long list of people you don’t have to talk to about your chronic illness, and your employer is one. Legally, you don’t have to disclose a single thing about your health—and you might not want to if your illness does not affect job performance. But there may come a day when you need to consider disclosure.

The legal perspective

Employees in the United States are not required to share information about their long-term or serious health conditions, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart problems, chronic pain, cancer, HIV, and others. An employer does not have the right to request this information from a current or prospective employee. But it is your right to supply information about health issues that may affect your ability to work and to ask for reasonable accommodation, and the law requires the employer to be accommodating. Depending on circumstances, reasonable accommodations may include working from home, longer break times, ergonomic workstations, and other helpful measures.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits an employer from dismissing or failing to hire a chronically ill person on the basis of that illness or disability. Moreover, employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee in order to make it easier for that employee to do his or her job. The definition of “reasonable accommodation” can be difficult to understand, so check the Department of Labor’s Accommodation website before speaking with your company’s human resources department.

Read more at UpWell.

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Few Differences in Fibromyalgia Between Men & Women

Fibromyalgia is remarkably more common in women than it is in men, but when it comes to feeling its effects, there is little difference between the sexes, according to results of a new study published in the journal Pain Research and Management.

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, depression and insomnia. As many as 90 percent of fibromyalgia cases are diagnosed in women.

The Al-Andalus Project consisted of 405 fibromyalgia patients and 247 non-fibromyalgia participants from southern Spain. Only 73 of the participants in both groups were men.

The researchers followed the groups for two years to see if gender-specific symptoms in the fibromyalgia patients existed. Participants were evaluated in several ways, including pain, lifestyle impact, fatigue, sleep issues, mental and emotional health, and cognitive performance.

Read the rest of my article at The Pain News Network.

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7 Healthy Eating Tips to Minimize Chronic Illness Symptoms

We all know that diet and physical activity significantly affect our health. They help prevent many illnesses and also help keep the symptoms of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, at bay. Not everyone with chronic illness is physically able to get enough exercise.  But we can all make healthy diet choices to help improve symptoms, keep chronic illness from worsening, and lose excess weight.

Here are seven healthy diet choices you can make to help you manage the symptoms of your chronic illness, especially if adequate exercise is not an option.

1. Make healthy eating a priority

There never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we need to do. It might feel like adding healthier habits to your daily routine is a just another added stressor to your life. But devoting time and intention to healthy diet habits results in higher energy levels and lower stress, which will help you get through challenges imposed by illness and everyday life.

2. Eliminate unhealthy foods

Sugary and high-calorie snacks or desserts set healthy eating habits back, as do other processed and junk foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption, especially beer, which is high in calories. Avoid cheeses and meats that are high in calories, fat, and sodium.

Read More at Upwell.

Posted in Coping

What Is Chronic Disease and How Do I Live With It?

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease or illness could mean a lifetime of challenges. It also prompts many health questions, a quest for answers, and connecting with peers and professionals who can help you. Living with a chronic illness might not be what you expected or hoped for, but your life can still be absolutely amazing. Because even without perfect health, our lives can still be satisfying and joyful.

What is chronic illness?

Illnesses are often described as being either chronic or acute. A chronic illness is one that lasts at least three months, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Also, chronic illnesses usually cannot be cured and don’t go away on their own. Many can cause disability and death if not properly treated and managed. And chronic illness is common: recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show there were 117 million people in the United States living with one or more chronic illnesses—one in four adults. By the way, the terms chronic illness and chronic disease are essentially interchangeable, with chronic illness more common.

Examples of chronic illness include arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. The CDC says arthritis is the most common reason for disability, with more than 22 million arthritic adults struggling with daily activities. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, and lower limb amputation in American adults. Moreover, chronic illnesses are the leading causes of death in the U. S., with heart disease being number one.

By contrast, an acute condition lasts for only days or weeks, and usually responds well to treatment. Many can be cured. Acute conditions might be anything from a common infection to a heart attack.

Read more at Upwell.

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Letter to Loved Ones About Chronic Illness

One of the hardest parts of dealing with chronic illness an be constantly feeling like we have let others down because of the limitations imposed by our health. In many cases we feel the need to apologize, even though loved ones tell us repeatedly that we don’t. Please understand that it can make us feel better to say we are sorry—whether we need to or not. It is our way of acknowledging that our limitations, inability to participate, and the unpredictability of our chronic illnesses are no walk in the park for you either. 

Loved ones, here are seven things we want to you to know and understand about our internal struggle with letting you down.

We feel guilt. Many of us feel we are not enough and are uncomfortable because we cannot offer enough. We also feel embarrassed because we need so much from our friends, partners, and families. There is also guilt because we think our children don’t have the kind of parents we believe they need and deserve. And we worry that when we are sick and in pain it stops us from being there for the people we love.

We wish we could be there for you. We would rather be having fun with you and supporting you than at home in bed. We are not at home resting because we are lazy, or because we don’t love you or want to spend time with you. If we could be with you, we would.  We often miss you and want you to know that your opinions and feelings mean everything to us.

Read More at Upwell.

Posted in Coping

How Winter Affects 7 Chronic Conditions

When most of us think of getting sick in the winter, we think of coughs, colds, and the flu. But cold and damp weather and changes in barometric pressure can aggravate symptoms of many chronic illnesses too. If you have a chronic condition, it’s important to know about and watch for these changes.

Winter weather and your chronic illness

Here is what you can do to minimize the impact of winter on seven common chronic health conditions.

Arthritis. There are many forms of arthritis; all cause joint inflammation. Arthritis makes using affected joints painful and difficult. Many arthritis patients report worsening symptoms when the weather is cold and damp, though clinical evidence for these claims is scarce. Some experts say that less physical activity and getting sick with the flu and other viruses may better explain increased arthritis symptoms during winter. Dressing warmly, staying hydrated, managing weight, protecting your joints (e.g., by wearing supportive shoes), and taking vitamin D supplements may all help manage arthritis symptoms in the winter months.

Asthma and allergies. Asthma is a condition that occurs when the airways within the lungs are inflamed, making breathing difficult. Extreme cold weather can cause airways to tighten further. Moreover, coughs, colds, and indoor allergies worsen asthma. If you have asthma, keep your inhaler close by and stay indoors when you can. Also, if you are allergic to such things in your home as pet dander, dust mites, and mold, your symptoms may increase during the winter months as a result of staying indoors more and keeping windows closed. Manage symptoms by regularly vacuuming, housecleaning, and washing your clothing and linens. Over-the-counter allergy medications can help, too.

Read more at Upwell.

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The Importance of Sticking to Your Medication Regimen

For most of us, prescription medications are key to treating our chronic illnesses. Medicine doesn’t guarantee we will feel better, but it’s an important part of our efforts. Yet many of us struggle with adherence—taking our medicine as we are supposed to.

Understanding adherence

Adherence to your medication regimen means more than taking your medication regularly and correctly. It also involves filling and refilling your prescriptions and taking them for as long as your doctor has prescribed them.

The most important reason for adhering to your medicine regimen is that it improves your quality of life. The better your adherence is, the lower your risk of symptom flare-ups and hospital stays. Fewer flare-ups means you get to enjoy life more, while fewer doctor and hospital visits mean lower costs.

Startling numbers

Too many people jeopardize their health by not taking their medicine. Mayo Clinic says only 50 percent of chronic illness patients take their medications as prescribed. They note that this may lead to hospitalization, poorer clinical outcomes, and even death. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says medication non-compliance causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and about 125,000 deaths in the United States every year. Your pills are no good to you if they don’t leave their pill bottles.

Read more at Upwell.