FATIGUE AND Other mental health effects RELATED TO HAVING A CHRONIC ILLNESS

fatigue and chronic illness

FATIGUE and Chronic Illnesses

Fatigue and chronic illness are common companions. Sometimes the disease contributes to exhaustion, but it can also worsen the illness.

With an estimated six in 10 adults in the United States having a chronic disease, and four in 10 having two or more chronic conditions, that amounts to a lot of fatigue.

The exact definition of a chronic disease varies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s when a condition is present that lasts for one year or longer and requires continued medical care, limits daily activities, or both. 

Examples of chronic disease include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Lupus

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, however. Depression, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, and a slew of other ongoing illnesses also qualify as chronic diseases. They’re also linked to fatigue.

Chronic disease and fatigue

One study reported in Nature examined thousands of subjects, with and without chronic diseases. Respondents with one or more chronic illnesses reported severe fatigue at higher rates than disease-free people (23 percent vs. 15 percent). Seventeen percent of surveyed individuals with chronic disease(s) said they felt chronically fatigued, compared to 10 percent of people who reported no illness. 

The more chronic conditions a person has, the higher the likelihood they’ll experience severe fatigue. 

While fatigue is normal and most of us experience it every day, it becomes a symptom of something greater when we feel overwhelmingly exhausted – when a good night of sleep isn’t enough – and struggle to function through day-to-day activities. 

Some chronic diseases are brought on by risky behaviors. They include tobacco use/exposure, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and drug or alcohol abuse. Others, like arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or some cancers, simply happen. 

One of the best ways to fight chronic disease is through healthy practices like exercising regularly or reducing stress. Some are easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort.  Consider:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Good nutrition
  • Staying active
  • Getting enough rest
  • Avoiding drug or alcohol abuse
  • Reducing stress

Quitting smoking

Smoking (or vaping) tobacco doesn’t just harm the lungs but also just about every organ in the body. It’s a leading factor in many cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and diabetes. It also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It also has been linked to eye diseases, tuberculosis, and reduced immune function. Even secondhand smoke is risky; it’s also can cause lung and heart disease and elevate lung cancer risk

Good Nutrition

Eating a healthy, balanced diet fuels the body and protects against many chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Practicing moderation also prevents obesity which can also lead to health problems like diabetes and heart disease. 

Consider a diet rich in whole grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. Also try to limit the number of fatty foods (including saturated fats found in butter, lard, and coconut oil), sugars, salt, and processed foods for optimal health.

Staying active

Getting regular exercise and keeping physically active can do wonders for anyone at any age, ability, or size. There’s no need to approach it like you’re going to run in a marathon next week. Even just walking more can help. Some of the benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Enhanced brain function
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Lessened risk of depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Weight management
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers
  • Longer life span

Regular physical activity also improves bone and muscle strength, lowers the risk of falling among older adults, helps with chronic joint conditions like arthritis, and improves overall daily functioning.

Getting enough rest

Rest and sleep are vital to our health and well-being. Sometimes allowing yourself to take a break and revive a bit can do wonders to help you through the day. The importance of good sleep cannot be understated, however. When a person sleeps, especially during the deepest stages of rest, their body rejuvenates. Not only does it lead to feeling rested, but that shut-eye helps the body and brain repair itself.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, depression, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Among some populations, it can elevate the risk of some cancers and heart disease. 

Good sleep hygiene may help. That includes:

  • Keeping cell phones and related devices out of the bedroom.
  • A comfortable sleep area.   
  • Limiting alcohol intake. It might help you sleep at first, but you’ll wake fast and won’t feel rested. Caffeine can disrupt or keep you from sleeping, too. 
  • Avoiding rich foods before bedtime. That can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
  • Keeping a schedule. Get up and go to bed at the same times (approximately) each day.

If sleep remains elusive (and not just for a day or two) it’s best to consult a sleep specialist.

Avoiding drug or alcohol abuse

It’s well known that alcohol and drug abuse can be bad for your health. 

Some people might resort to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate chronic conditions like depression or anxiety, or various aches and pains, but that doesn’t treat the problem. It only raises the likelihood of worsening your overall health and creating new complications. Overdoing either (or both) can lead to accidents and injuries, but long-term abuse can contribute to or worsen many chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancers, mental health problems, and more. It also can weaken your immune system, putting you at greater risk of getting ill, and it can lead to addiction.

Reducing stress

It’s not always easy to reduce stress. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise can help. So can avoiding drug or alcohol abuse.

Chronic stress keeps the immune system on high alert, which can lead to chronic inflammation. That in turn can fuel the onset of heart diseases and other health problems. 

Breathing exercises (simply breathing in and out, slowly, 10 times) can help. So can visualizing a place you’d like to be (maybe a tropical paradise?). Meditation, yoga, and laughter can all help take your mind off troubling feelings and thoughts, too.

Healing for Life Clinic
Poseidonia Healthcare’s treatment philosophy is to provide a multi-treatment approach to return your health and wellbeing to you in the fastest possible way. We supply the most comprehensive combination of treatments all in one location. Combining Ozone Therapy, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Cryotherapy the most advanced Stem Cell Treatments available in the world and a comprehensive Detoxification program all under one roof!

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