Woman taking medication

Tips for Managing Rheumatic Disease

April 24, 2023 | Rheumatic Disease


Managing rheumatic disease is no easy feat. Patients are often diagnosed young and suffer from chronic illness for years. Achieving wellness while living with a chronic condition means developing an overall healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy sleep patterns along with mental and spiritual health. Here are some tips for staying physically and mentally well.

Physical Wellness

Your physical well-being is the state of your body. How your body functions and feels can depend largely on your diet, exercising frequency and sleeping patterns. Patients with rheumatic diseases often need additional support for their physical health from medication. While it may be frustrating to have to take medications daily, weekly, or monthly, recognizing the benefits and mechanics of these medications is vital. Some treatments, like steroids, can be lifesaving but are intended only for short-term use, such as during a flare. Other treatments are prescribed for long-term use. Your doctor's recommendation will be based on research demonstrating a medication's benefits in improving symptoms and reducing flares, hospitalizations, and death. When meeting with your rheumatologist, express any concerns you may have so that they can address all your questions. Ultimately, you decide on your treatment, so get your facts, know the risks of the medications, and, most importantly, know the risks of what would happen if you did not take the recommended medications.

Mental Wellness

The state of your mind plays a critical role in your overall well-being and happiness. When we are stressed out, our sleep and appetite are often affected, impacting other dimensions of our well-being. In autoimmune diseases, any stress can trigger a flare. Uncontrolled mental health disorders can limit the treatment of rheumatic disease both because of the impact of the symptoms on one's ability to manage their disease and because of the impact of mental wellness on disease activity at large. The prevalence of mental health disorders is vastly under-reported. Don't we all have anxiety? Depression is rampant. Personality disorders are not as uncommon as we think. It's time to do away with the stigma of mental health disorders. Take some time to self-reflect and consider your own mental health. Do you have thoughts that cloud your thinking or how you feel and act? Do not hesitate to seek mental health care. While not all providers treat mental health issues with medications, sometimes it's okay to be on these treatments—especially if you find that they help you with your mental health. Consider seeing a psychologist, therapist, or counselor. The options for treating mental health disorders are endless but taking that first step is crucial.

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