For a parent of a child diagnosed with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the future can be scary and overwhelming. Resources are available to help families make sense of many diseases and ailments, and some of these organizations even offer tools specifically designed to help support the care of a child patient
Understanding Pediatric Chronic Illnesses
How families can manage inflammatory bowel diseases
(Family Features) For a parent of a child diagnosed with a chronic illness, the future can be scary and overwhelming. Assembling a medical team and beginning to formulate a treatment plan, even becoming familiar with a glossary of new terminology, can be taxing.
Resources are available to help families make sense of many diseases and ailments, and some of these organizations even offer tools specifically designed to help support the care of a child patient. For example, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is a leading resource for families navigating inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
What is IBD?
Crohn’s disease may occur in any part of the large intestine (also called the colon). In fact, it can happen anywhere in the entire digestive system. However, it most commonly develops right where the small and large intestine meet. In ulcerative colitis, only the colon and rectum are affected.
No one knows for sure what causes Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but experts believe several factors may lead to the development of the diseases, including genes, environmental elements like viruses and bacteria, and inappropriate immune reactions.
What are the symptoms?
“It is critical that if you suspect your child has inflammatory bowel disease, you seek care with a qualified pediatric gastroenterologist who can carefully and efficiently help determine the diagnosis and begin a treatment plan to help your child feel better, thrive, and maximize quality of life,” said Andrew Grossman, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist and chair of the pediatric affairs committee of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
How does it affect children?
They are often overwhelmed by the emotional and psychological side effects of the disease.
Learning how to manage the disease is not always easy for children. Parents play an important role in educating their children about IBD, including teaching them they need to take their health seriously and take responsibility for caring for themselves.
How can IBD be managed?
Maintaining your child’s health may also involve lifestyle accommodations, like organizing your schedule for ample bathroom breaks when away from home. You may also need to work closely with your child’s school to manage absences and academic performance along with any medical care that needs to take place during school hours.
Many families also find value in building a network of supportive friends and loved ones. One example, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation offers Camp Oasis – a co-ed residential camp program that allows children to meet others like them in a safe and enriching environment.
Another resource is justlikemeibd.org , a website featuring stories and videos from teens with IBD as well as information on school, dating, managing stress and diet, research updates, and resources for parents.
Is your child ready to manage his or her own care?
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems.
(BPT) - “I’m not the same person. The person before just kind of took life for granted. And now I cherish every moment I have because I know it can be taken away very quickly.”
Lisa Pellerin, a mother and a nurse, shared these words as she recounted an experience so devastating to her health that it changed her entire perspective on life. It wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a heart attack.
It was the flu.
Surprisingly, the flu is a source of worry for only 8 percent of adults 50 years of age and older, according to a recent survey. And, even if they were to get the flu, the majority (80 percent) only saw themselves as being at average or below average risk for flu-related complications. For some, these misperceptions could be dangerous.
Adults 50 years of age and older are more likely than younger age groups to have a chronic illness, such as asthma or other lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. Flu can exacerbate symptoms of these conditions and lead to serious complications, like pneumonia – or sometimes even death.
Flu and chronic health conditions
According to the CDC, about 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness. Lisa is among this group, living with both asthma and diabetes. All it took was one day for the flu to land her in the hospital. “I just kept getting worse. I was in the hospital for three weeks. Everyone thought I was going to die,” she said. Lisa continues to struggle with shortness of breath and a persistent cough, but she’s grateful to be alive.
After receiving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, Jim Piette still enjoyed fishing, hunting and woodworking – until he got the flu. “Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7,” he said. “I can’t do much without running out of air.” After a year and a half, Jim still hasn’t been able to resume all his usual activities.
Take the precaution: Get the shot
Vaccination is the best way to help protect people, including older adults, from the flu and help reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death. That’s why the American Lung Association created the MyShot campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur. The campaign helps educate adults 50 years of age and older about the potential dangers of flu and the critical importance of getting a flu shot every year.
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination continues to be offered throughout flu season.
For adults, it’s important to know that there are multiple options depending on your age and whether you have one or more chronic health conditions. A doctor can advise which option may be right for each individual, taking into consideration age and other factors such as chronic health conditions.
It’s not about one person – it’s about everyone in your life
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems. JoJo O’Neal’s bout with the flu turned into a family issue, infecting not only JoJo, but her sister who has COPD, and her niece. “I started to realize my health decisions can impact others,” she said. Now, she does everything she can to help protect herself and others from the flu, which always includes getting her annual flu vaccination.
If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, go to GetMyShot.org to learn more and speak with your healthcare provider about flu vaccine options that may be right for you.
One common condition to be aware of is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. The first step toward managing AFib and preventing serious health complications is gaining knowledge about the condition. Increase your awareness with these facts.
How to Reduce Health Risks by Understanding AFib
(Family Features) Oftentimes, seeking to improve your health starts at your core – your heart. One common condition to be aware of is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Currently impacting up to 6.1 million Americans, AFib is projected to double by 2030, according to the American Heart Association. One in three individuals is at risk for developing AFib over the course of his or her lifetime, and the likelihood of developing the condition increases by almost 40 percent after the age of 55.
The average person living with AFib has a five-fold increase of experiencing a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat. However, proper diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the chances of associated heart health complications, including stroke.
The first step toward managing AFib and preventing serious health complications is gaining knowledge about the condition. The experts at the American Heart Association are working to elevate awareness with these facts:
Symptoms and signs
“Atrial fibrillation can be challenging to diagnose,” said Dr. Georgeanne Freeman, a board-certified family medicine doctor and American Heart Association volunteer expert. “If you are feeling out of the ordinary, whether it's a racing pulse or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath and fatigue, it’s time to speak with your doctor to learn your risk for AFib and lower your chance for stroke.”
Other common symptoms include dizziness, weakness, faintness or confusion; fatigue when exercising; sweating and chest pain or pressure.
People of African, Asian or Hispanic ancestry are typically less likely to suffer from AFib. However, research suggests that those with African or Hispanic ancestry living with AFib have a higher risk of death when the condition is combined with another factor such as heart failure or high blood pressure.
To learn more and to access AFib tools and resources, visit heart.org/AFib.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
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