A life-threatening illness is a serious health problem that can reduce the life expectancy of a person. They usually develop unexpectedly and can disrupt all aspects of your life, as you may feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions and decisions to make. Some of the chronic or life-threatening illnesses include cancer, neurological conditions, HIV/ AIDS, diabetes and heart diseases. Although other life-threatening illnesses may not have a cure, they can still be managed through medications and surgical treatments.
It is important to address chronic diseases early, as it can be fatal if allowed to progress to its later stages. No patient wants to hear that their condition is incurable and that they will live the rest of their lives taking medications or going through surgeries. However, it is important to come into terms with reality and find a way to cope with your health condition.
Major Types of Life-Threatening Illnesses
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
This type of health condition is also referred to as ischemic heart disease. It is caused by the constriction of blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. If its symptoms are not managed, it can cause heart failure, chronic chest pain, and arrhythmias. Coronary artery disease can be managed by maintaining good heart health and taking regular medications.
- Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the production and use of insulin hormone. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreases no longer produce insulin while type 2 diabetes can be caused by obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diet. The severity of its symptoms can be managed through regular exercises and eating a healthy diet.
Stroke is caused by leakage or blockage of an artery in your brain. It can kill all your brain cells within minutes as they are deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients. Patients who have just had a stroke may have difficulties walking, seeing or feel sudden confusion or numbness on some parts of their body. Stroke can cause long-term disability if left untreated.
Cancer refers to a group of diseases that cause abnormal cell growth that can compromise healthy cells and spread to other parts of the body. Doctors usually prescribe treatments based on your overall health, type of cancer, and its stage at the time of diagnosis. Some of the approaches used for the treatment of cancer include precision medicine, surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy.
How to Cope with a Life-Threatening Illness
- Accept Your Situation
Even the most intelligent and organized person can find it hard to keep things straight when they hear distressing news about their health condition. This makes it easy to misunderstand the answers or make it difficult to ask the right questions because you cannot imagine how your life is going to be afterward. It is very essential to keep an open mind since many people often interpret the information worse than what it is.
- Limit Your Fears and Anxiety
Once you have accepted your current health condition, it is important to know what to expect beyond the information you have just received from your doctor. Ask your doctor about the symptoms you should expect over time and what needs to be done to treat them. Get to know how you can manage your pain and how you can access medical help whenever you have an emergency. It is important to have a less emotional and impartial person to talk to besides your family because they are also anxious about your illness.
- Dealing with Pain and Symptoms
There are several treatments for pain so you should not expect to live with it as it can lessen your ability to function properly. Never use pain symptoms as a marker for whether your treatment is working or not. Any side effects of pain along with the symptoms of a chronic disease can be managed through medications and a series of appointments to assess your response to various treatments. Your doctor needs to understand what you feel to help you manage pain effectively. It is important to report your pain and other symptoms as accurately as you can rather than trying to appear strong about it. Make sure to describe where it is located, what it feels like, what makes it worse and how you feel after taking medications.
It is important to know the truth about a life-threatening illness so that your symptoms can be treated and managed in its early stages. Holding onto hope can mean different things for different people such as pain-free living, finding a cure, extended life or just a good life regardless of how long it will be. You can still live and cope with a life-threatening illness as long as you have accepted your situation and ready to focus on what can improve your condition or manage your symptoms.