DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Other conditions related to your chronic illness

Lonely broken down young woman thinking about life

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Do you ever feel like this woman? She looks utterly broken and alone. I think anyone who battles a chronic illness feels like this every now and then. So what can cause this malaise?

Chronic illnesses tend to come with some hangers-on, if you will. Problems like:

Migraines – I have tension migraines. Many of my fellow chronic illness warriors suffer from some type of migraine. Robert Duarte, MD, director of the Pain Institute at the North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, in Manhasset, N.Y., said, “An underlying disturbance in the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine plays a role in causing headaches…”

Additional autoimmune diseases – These include things like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. There are lots of others. They bring their own sets of symptoms and challenges. Oftentimes, having one of these additional diseases is a major factor in your mental and emotional state. I know I always think, “What’s next? Seriously! What’s next?”

Restless legs – Ugh. Restless legs are one of the most annoying things about having a chronic disease. Our sleep is already messed up and now this? As you all know by now, my primary chronic illness is fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia are 11 times more likely to develop restless legs than the rest of the general population.

Irritable bowel syndrome – Another thing that people with chronic illnesses are far more susceptible to. Cramping? Check. Constipation/diarrhea? Check. Never knowing if something you’re eating is going to cause agony? Check.

Pelvic pain – This includes all kinds of pains, from bladder infections to worse menstrual cramps. What they have to do with chronic illnesses is still a mystery, much like most of the things that happen pertaining to our chronic illnesses.

Depression/anxiety – Roughly fifty percent of people who battle a chronic illness also struggle with some form of depression, anxiety, or both. I’m actually surprised the figure is that low. Dealing with the storm of chronic illness makes every day a struggle.

Weight gain – Many people with fibromyalgia lead sedentary lives due to their chronic pain, and a lack of regular physical activity increases their risk of becoming overweight or obese. “Being overweight places more mechanical stress on your joints, which can cause more pain and aggravate the fibromyalgia,” Dr. Arnold says. Plus, fat stores are pro-inflammatory, which can also exacerbate pain.

What other conditions do you have as a result of your chronic illness? Tell me in the comments!

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