A chronic illness diagnosis is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness. We also feel disempowered, confused, and overwhelmed.
Popular media and messages tell us that there is not much that we can really do. All that we can do is take the medications prescribed to us. Unfortunately, while the treatments help to manage the symptoms, it does not provide a long term solution.
Often, the medications lead to further complications. Meanwhile, the chronic disease progression continues to take place leading to higher doses and more medications. This further fuels a feeling of helplessness and confusion.
Our current approach to chronic illness is not working
The standard model of care practiced everywhere in the world addresses the symptoms of illness and focuses on coming up with a diagnosis. It is not geared to focus on the underlying causes of a person’s health issues.
As a result, it does not help to restore function or address the underlying deficiencies and imbalances. While the conventional approach works brilliantly in acute medical situations, it fails to prevent or reverse health issues.
While chronic diseases may not kill us immediately, they degrade the quality of our life. We pay a heavy price in terms of pain, discomfort, and being robbed of doing things we love. In the case of autoimmune diseases, this can mean a life time of pain, exhaustion, and very restricted living.
Poor health attracts disease
While genetics certainly has a role to play in chronic disease, it is the environment– not our genes- which is the primary contributor towards better health and longevity. Genes are “inherited” and influence our health but they are not “inevitable”.
Genes are not driving our disease, our lifestyle, diet, and overall environment are.
In a way, our environment and our behaviours “talk” to our genes. Our genes then translate those messages into instructions for each and every cell in our body. This means that our behaviours and our choices either move us towards disease or towards health.
The unfortunate reality is that if you are not intentional about creating health, you will most likely be moving towards disease.
All the factors mentioned below contribute to the progression of chronic disease
-high stress lifestyle
-exposure to toxins
– poor quality or inadequate sleep and rest
By addressing these various factors we can go a long way in preventing future health problems.
This brings me to the 3 hidden reasons why a conventional approach to chronic illness does not work
1. Chronic illness never really goes away
Immunisation and antibiotics have made infectious diseases much more manageable and less frightening in the 21st century. However, chronic illnesses are growing exponentially. These are diseases whose nature is to come back again and again, they never really go away completely.
These include diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and other neurological disorders, gastric reflux, inflammatory bowel, asthma, allergies, eczema, kidney and liver ailments, and cancer.
Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimotos and Graves are also other classes of chronic diseases.
There are four main reasons why chronic illness never really goes away*
- A chronic illness does not heal by itself. Unlike the common cold and other infections, it progresses over time
- A chronic illness tends to grow worse over time. We can certainly manage it and learn to live with it, but there is no “cure”
- There is no one single factor causing a chronic illness. There is a combination of factors and triggers which gave rise to it
- A chronic illness has complex symptom profiles. This makes is hard to diagnose the disease at times. This is particularly true in the case of autoimmune conditions where getting an exact diagnosis can sometimes take years
*(based on the book “The disease delusion by Dr Jeffrey Bland)
2. Symptom management is not enough
If you look around, you will find that more and more people are on medications these days. Chronic illness is on the rise and becoming more prevalent, at an ever-increasing rate. Health issues like asthma, allergies, eczema, high blood pressure, acid reflux, heart disease, and diabetes have become very common.
This means that the person who is suffering has to be completely involved in the process.
In the current conventional model of medical care, medications are prescribed to block, inhibit or alter a step that has gone of out sync or out of control. This way the symptoms can be reduced as a short term solution. However, a chronic illness usually has a wide range of symptoms since it arises from a variety of causes. The most dominant symptoms are usually treated with medications that do nothing to address the causes of the disease.
The outcome is usually decades of taking multiple drugs and increasing disability. Because you don’t really “cure” a chronic illness with drugs. However, you can manage your symptoms so that you can cope with your illness while you address the root causes.
3. Giving away power to the “experts”
Taking medical advice from health professionals is important. You may also need to take medications and follow treatment prescribed to you to manage your condition. However, your responsibility towards your health doesn’t stop there!
You are the “expert” on your body, life, and your health. If you solely depend on others to take care of your health, you are giving away your power to create long term health
By taking full responsibility for your health you can make healthier choices and incorporate habits that support health creation.
For example, you can choose the foods that you eat everyday so that it supports your body’s healing process. Foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins, and whole, unprocessed foods.
Once you take full responsibility for your own health, you will become empowered to make these choices on a consistent basis.
Whether the disease is curable or not, we can always find ways to improve our immunity, heal our stress response, and take steps to support our body’s unique healing capabilities.
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find itTori Amos
“AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE 101”
A carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases
If have been looking to get ANSWERS to questions like
-Why do I have this disease?
-Will I get any better?
-Can anyone help me? Nothing is working
-Is there any hope for me to get my life back?
-I am still waiting for a diagnosis, which direction do I need to move towards?
then this GUIDE would a game changer for you!
“Autoimmune Disease 101” is a carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases.
The Functional Medicine model of care for chronic diseases seeks to answer the question “Why do you have this disease” so that you can get personalised and effective care for your unique condition.