Invisible illness are ongoing medical conditions that affect thousands of people. Some of the more common invisible illnesses include mental illness, chronic pain, constant fatigue, bacterial infections, diabetes and allergies. To classify as chronic, these conditions typically will last more than ninety days. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these conditions and how invisible illness can affect our lives.
Mental illness can affect anybody. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one in five adults experiences some form of mental illness in a given year. Just over eighteen percent of Americans struggle with anxiety. Almost seven percent of Americans report one major depressive episode. These conditions also heighten the risk of substance abuse. Consider that of the twenty million Americans struggling with substances, over fifty percent also suffer from a mental health condition. If you or someone you know are struggling with mental illness, please seek help. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone.
Chronic Illnesses and Pain
Invisible illness includes chronic illness and pain. Any pain that last over ninety days is considered chronic pain. The pain can be mild, moderate or severe. At times the pain is constant, but can also be periodic. The pain often gives a sensation of pressure, throbbing, burning, soreness or stiffness. It is often the result of a traumatic physical event. It but can also be the result of ongoing physical neglect. Because of the pain’s lingering nature, it can also lead to mental health concerns like depression. People who suffer from chronic pain often report loss of appetite, fatigue, lack of energy and sudden mood swings.
Dormant Bacterial Diseases
Dormant bacterial diseases classify as invisible illness. There are several types of bacterial infections. The most common include tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. These diseases can flare up from time to time making life uncomfortable and can sometimes be fatal. According to the World Health Organization, one quarter of the global population suffers from latent tuberculosis. Because of this, people should take the time to get tested if they suspect the suffer from bacterial disease.
Many dormant bacterial diseases show some type of symptom. A persistent cough can be a sign of tuberculosis. Keep an eye out for breakouts in the skin and sudden fevers. Seasonally sensitive diseases like Lyme Disease are also forms of dormant bacterial disease. But just because a disease is more commonly transmitted during a particular timeframe doesn’t mean its affects run year-round.
Invisible illness can be managed. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some quick thoughts on how you can better protect yourself against invisible illness.
Talk to people. If you’re feeling a sense of depression or loss of hope, find someone to talk to. This can be a friend or a professional. Know about the resources available to you in your area and online. Don’t feel shame or guilt over your condition. You’re not alone.
Regular Doctor Visits Can Maintain Good Health
Maintain annual doctor visits. This is a critical step in ensuring that you are abreast of any important health findings that can affect your life. Annual visits are a great way to track your personal health progress. They also serve as an opportunity to catch a disease before it gets worse. You can expect blood work to be a part of your annual physical. Typically, doctors will draw blood to look into your cholesterol and glucose levels. This can be a tool to better overall heart health and help preserve your organs.
Eat Real Food
A sound and healthy diet is a cornerstone of good health. You don’t have to eat a total organic diet, but focus on real foods. Avoid processed foods and sugar. A good rule of thumb for the grocery store is to stay on the edges where the fresh produce and real foods are. Foods that are high in sugar and processed food have led to a pandemic of obesity in America. Currently, over a third of American adults are obese according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Real foods give your body it’s best chance to fight and stay healthy. Remember, you are what you eat.
Get Physically Active
You don’t have to be a marathon runner to be healthy. Most people benefit from maintaining some type of physical activity. Invisible illness can be aided by a steady program of simply walking. A study was done in Australia focusing on middle-aged women who suffered from depression. Those who walked 200 minutes a week had more energy and were more social. Being active will also help you sleep better. Be mindful not to be too active right before sleep, but try and get some activity in during your day. Many people who suffer from invisible illness struggle with a lack of energy. Because of that, being physically active can be difficult. But since physical activity provides oxygen and nutrients to your body, it helps your body run more efficiently.
Vaccinations Prevent Developing Illness
Invisible illness can be prevented through vaccines. It is important to know that vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to help you develop an immunity to disease. Many people get their vaccinations as children. Many of these vaccinations only last so long. Because of this, it is important for people to get their immunizations checked to know if they are still effective. In fact, thousands of Americans become ill every year from diseases they could have avoided with a vaccination.
A simple shot can prevent long term suffering. Vaccinations can be an important step in preventing invisible illnesses. For example, the CDC reports a Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your chance of liver cancer. The HPV vaccine lowers your risk level for cervical cancer. The flu vaccine lowers your chance of having a heart attack or other flu-related complication, like pneumonia. Vaccinations lower your chance of spreading invisible illness or disease to others. Let’s do all we can to help fight invisible illness and make the world a better place.