When one part of our bodies gets sick, it's usually not confined to that part of the body. Everything in the body is connected in one way or another, which means everything, can be affected. If you have COPD, other parts of you can be affected, such as your heart, circulation, and even your mental state.
If you've been diagnosed with a chronic illness or something like cancer, your body will go through some changes. If you have severe asthma, you will probably find yourself unable to exercise, which can cause weight gain and even make you have trouble sleeping. The fact is something serious like this can cause a chain reaction of other medical problems. If we know this, why not prevent them or treat them right away?
Palliative care was, for the most part, only used in nursing homes and hospices where patients with chronic illnesses don't have very much longer to live. It focuses on treating the chain reactions for chronic diseases, such as the stress pain and other physical maladies that might be caused by it. It's also known as “supportive care.”
You also don't have to wait until the symptoms have worsened before seeking the appropriate palliative care. You can and should find palliative care right after being diagnosed with an illness. Studies have been done with cancer patients, which shows that they fared much, better throughout their treatment when palliative care with started early on.
Something as simple as talking to or working with a psychiatrist can do wonders for someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness. It will likely relieve much stress, which will only wear you down physically over time. Stress weakens the immune system, which of course will make it harder for someone with cancer to get better if they are undergoing treatment. Those who received palliative care, including psychiatric care, generally felt better as they underwent treatment.
If you're interested in palliative care, you can start by expressing the interest to your doctor. Maybe you are feeling very run down, stressed out and generally bad and you know it has to do with your chronic illness. Your doctor can give you a referral and help you find a palliative care specialist.
After getting a referral from your doctor, you can go to the hospital and make an appointment with the palliative care team there. The team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in palliative care will talk to your doctor to make sure everyone is up to speed on your condition and what you need. You will then get treated for things such as pain and anxiety or depression caused by illness if these are seen to be stemming from it.
It would help if you never ignored how you feel because it will only make you as a whole worse over time. Prevention is often the key to staying healthy and treating your illness.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about palliative care, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.
Page last updated: October 5, 2018
- Center to Advance Palliative Care. https://www.getpalliativecare.org