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Don’t Let These Chronic Conditions Go Unchecked — Especially Now


September 22, 2020 Posted in: General Health & Wellness

Managing chronic conditions requires regular visits with your doctor. And when something feels off or it’s time for a checkup, delaying care only compromises your health. If you have any of these conditions, reconsider before rescheduling your follow-ups.

Asthma or Other Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD call for long-term monitored treatment plans. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic since patients with respiratory disease are at risk of complications from the virus. Regular checkups allow doctors to help you control flare-ups and reduce medication side effects. But the ultimate goals are to improve your quality of life and prevent irreversible damage, such as lung scarring.

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common culprit behind serious diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The more time your blood pressure remains higher than normal, the more damage your blood vessels incur, and the higher your risk of these conditions. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s essential to check your numbers regularly to make sure they’re within safe limits. Even if you’re on medication, things like stress and dietary changes can cause your blood pressure to fluctuate.

Diabetes

Like hypertension, diabetes can increase your risk of severe medical conditions when not treated properly, including kidney disease, nerve damage, stroke, and heart disease. To prevent these complications, you must adhere to your treatment plan. Your doctor will monitor your condition during regular follow-ups using your blood glucose logs or an A1C test, which calculates your average blood sugar level over the last two or three months. Diabetics should get an A1C test at least twice a year.

Thyroid Disease

If you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, your physician will monitor your hormone levels and symptoms and adjust your medication dose accordingly. If your dose changes, your doctor will want to make sure the new amount of thyroid hormone replacement works for you, so they may test your levels every six to eight weeks. Once your dosage remains stable for a year or two, they may decrease testing to once every six months to a year. Keep up with these appointments to avoid the complications of too much or too little thyroid hormone.

Obesity

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic obesity, you’ve likely received a game plan involving diet, exercise, and perhaps medication to lose the excess weight. And if you’re unable to achieve a healthy weight with these lifestyle changes or prescriptions, don’t delay talking to your doctor to find another solution. Obesity is linked to more than 40 diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and at least 13 types of cancer. Considering the severity of these comorbidities, ask your primary care physician if bariatric surgery is right for you.

Anxiety or Depression

Nearly a third of Americans are experiencing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder due to the pandemic. Additionally, a recent study found that the prevalence of depression symptoms is three times higher now than it was before. Without ongoing care, these disorders can harm both your physical and emotional health, so it’s important to get help when you need it. Your primary care physician can provide you with tools to improve your mental well-being.

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Schedule a televisit or in-person appointment with your St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician to manage your chronic conditions and get a snapshot of your overall health.

Sources:

European Respiratory Society | Control of asthma in real life: still a valuable goal?
American Lung Association | How Asthma Affects Your Body
American Heart Association | Health Threats From High Blood Pressure
American Diabetes Association | Complications
American Diabetes Association | Blood Sugar Testing and Control
Everyday Health | 10 Factors That Affect Thyroid Levels
CDC | Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity Make up 40 percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States
CDC | Mental Health - Household Pulse Survey - COVID-19
JAMA Network | Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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