Meaghan Wamboldt

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Fight Chronic Illness

If you’re living with a chronic illness, there’s a good chance your doctor has suggested altering your diet to help reduce or eliminate inflammation in the body. Increasing evidence suggests that there is a link between inflammation and chronic conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, lung and heart disease, gut disorders, asthma, and diabetes.  When the body senses invaders like viruses, bacteria or toxins, or suffers from an injury, the immune system is activated. Upon activation, the body releases inflammatory cells and cytokines that begin the inflammatory response to trap the invaders or heal the injury. As a result, you may experience pain, swelling, or redness, and oftentimes, inflammation goes unseen. Inflammation and Chronic Illness Chronic inflammation happens when the body continues to release inflammatory cells even after the injury has healed or the invader has been eliminated. While there are many reasons why this happens and can vary between individuals, research shows that diet plays a primary role in inflammation in the body.  Many studies have shown the healing power of food, and that certain components of foods have anti-inflammatory effects.  By choosing the right foods, you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. If you’ve already been …

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Chronic Illness-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is meant for gathering around the table to enjoy time with and connect to friends and family. Chronic illness symptoms like fatigue, achy joints and muscles, and pain are not invited to the table. While a warm, heavy, and possibly sugary dish can bring people together in a special way, it can also cause inflammation. Evidence shows that there is a link between inflammation and chronic conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, lung and heart disease, gut disorders, asthma, and diabetes.   Inflammation happens when the body continues to release inflammatory cells even long after an injury heals or you’ve recovered from an illness. Studies suggest that diet plays a primary role in  inflammation in the body. When you choose foods with anti-inflammatory properties, you can reduce your risk of illness and help reduce symptoms you may already be experiencing. Whether you have diabetes, IBS, heart disease, or another chronic condition, adhering to your normal diet is an important part of keeping the focus on the purpose of Thanksgiving and not your symptoms.  Chronic Illness-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes If you or a loved one has a chronic illness (or maybe just wants to eat a little healthier around the holidays), you …

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Using Mindfulness to Manage Chronic Pain 

While it’s normal to feel pain from time to time, especially after an injury, chronic pain is different. When you have chronic pain, your body will continue to hurt months or even years after the initial injury or illness.   Feelings of pain stem from a series of messages that are sent through the nervous system. When you get injured or become sick, pain sensors in that area light up and send the message to the brain of the problem. The brain processes these signals and sends the message to the rest of the body that your hurt. With acute pain, the messages stop once the injury is repaired. But with chronic pain, the nerve signals continue to fire long after healing.  The Center for Disease Control reports that about 50.2 million adults in the United States live with chronic pain. Symptoms for chronic pain can range from mild to serve and may feel dull, achy, throbbing, sore, or stiff. If you have chronic pain, you may also feel fatigued, have difficulty sleeping, and experience changes in appetite.   Treatment for chronic pain depends on the root of the condition, like arthritis, back pain, or fibromyalgia. Until recently, the standard treatment for chronic pain was …

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Risk Factors for ALS

Once considered a rare disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has become a common condition. About 6,000 new cases of ALS are diagnosed each year, and approximately four to six people per every 100,000 are living with the disease. Also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, it’s a progressive illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in a loss of muscle control. Although there is no known cause for ALS, there are several factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease.   Established risk factors for ALS   ALS usually begins with muscle twitching and weakness on one side of the body and with one limb. You may also notice slurred speech. While the exact cause of these symptoms are unknown, there are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of developing ALS:  Age The risk of developing ALS increases with age. Although people in their twenties and thirties, as well as people in their seventies and older, can get ALS, it is most common between the ages of 40 and 70. The average age at diagnosis is 55. Part of the reason ALS is becoming more common may be because the population is aging, although there may …

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Warning Signs For Suicide

Suicide claims the lives of over 47,500 people every year in the United States. When a person dies by suicide, it affects family, friends, and communities, leaving them lost, confused, and in some cases, feeling responsible for their death.   “Death by suicide” means intentionally ending your own life. It’s often a way for people who are suffering to escape their pain when they feel like there are no solutions to their problems and have lost hope of getting better. Many people think about suicide. In 2019, there was an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts in the United States. A suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves with the intent to take their life, but they do not die.  Because suicide affects all genders, ages, and ethnicities, knowing the risk factors and being aware of the warning signs can help you identify if someone is having thoughts about suicide and inform the steps you can take to prevent it.    Risk Factors for Suicide   Suicide typically occurs when external stressors, like financial or relationship instability, and health obstacles, like a chronic illness or major surgery, create a sense of hopelessness and despair. Mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders, psychosis, …

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5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease and How to Treat Them 

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease, meaning the symptoms develop slowly over the course of several years. Although there are four main motor symptoms that occur with Parkinson’s, not every patient will experience symptoms in the same order and in the same way. However, there are patterns of symptom progression that most patients will experience.  The most commonly used scale to assess the stage of Parkinson’s disease is the Hoehn and Yahr scale. Named for its authors, Margaret Hoehn and Melvin Yahr, the scale was originally published in 1967 in the journal Neurology and described the progression of Parkinsonism, collection of signs and symptoms found in Parkinson’s disease, in five stages. The scale has since been modified to include stage 1.5 and stage 2.5 to account for the intermediate course of Parkinson’s.  The Hoehn and Yahr scale originally classified the five stages in the following manner:  Stage I. Unilateral involvement only, usually with minimal or no functional impairment.   Stage II. Bilateral or midline involvement, without impairment of balance.   Stage III. Mild to moderate bilateral impairment with some postural instability. Stage IV. Fully developed, severely disabling disease; the patient is still able to walk and stand unassisted but is markedly incapacitated.   Stage V. …

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How to Treat Major Depressive Disorder

Feeling sad or down is a normal human emotion. It’s natural to feel negative feelings like sadness or depression when facing a life challenge, such as losing a job, the passing of a loved one, or facing a serious illness. These are usually short-lived and don’t interfere with daily living. But when these feelings become persistent, intensify, and interrupt day-to-day life, a mood disorder like major depressive disorder might be present.   Major depressive disorder is a serious mental illness that significantly impairs a person’s ability to function, causing changes in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. Depression is the leading cause of disability, affecting nearly 280 million people worldwide.   Treatment For Depression  When you’re struggling with a debilitating mental illness like depression, recovery can seem impossible. You may find yourself wondering if you can or will ever get better. The good news is, you can.   Depression is a treatable condition that is most effective when treatment begins shortly after a diagnosis, however, it’s never too late to seek help. Treatment is individualized based on the severity of symptoms, how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms, physical and mental health history, and co-occurring disorders.   Treatment options for depression will vary but will usually include …

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Integrative Treatment for MS

Managing multiple sclerosis can be difficult, especially when it comes to choosing between different treatment options. You want a treatment plan that is going to help minimize your symptoms while being mindful of any side effects. All the while making sure that your mental health is being protected.  Many patients with MS use an integrative or complementary approach to manage their symptoms and reduce relapses. That’s because these approaches don’t just focus on the physical nature of MS, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. The mind-body connection works both ways: although MS primarily affects the central nervous system, patients often experience mental and emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Similarly, studies have shown that having a positive outlook can improve MS recovery and health.   What is integrative medicine?  Integrative medicine includes a full spectrum of physical factors, as well as emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that can influence someone’s health. It emphasizes a holistic, whole person view rather than a segmented one that only focuses on one aspect of managing a health condition. Integrative medicine uses appropriate, evidence-based therapeutic and lifestyle approaches to achieve optimal health and healing. It emphasizes the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider(s) because this too can affect the healing process. …

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Easy Ways to Minimize Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you know that the symptoms often flare up at inconvenient times. It can be difficult to do everyday activities when you’re dealing with the pain, stiffness, and other symptoms that come with the disease. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes you can make and some home remedies you can try to help minimize your symptoms throughout the day.  What is rheumatoid arthritis?  Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects more than 1.3 million Americans. The immune system makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses to fight infection. But when you have RA, your immune system mistakenly sends those antibodies to the healthy lining of your joints and attacks the tissue surrounding the joints. As a result, the thin layer of cells called synovium that covers your joints becomes sore and inflamed.   RA primarily affects the joints, especially joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In severe cases, RA can attack internal organs like the lungs, heart, and kidneys.   The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, evidence has shown that autoimmune conditions run in families. There may be certain genes you are born with that make you more likely to get RA. …

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How to Adapt Your Living Space and Daily Activities for ALS 

Your home is your sanctuary, but if you’ve recently been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), it may feel like that sanctuary isn’t as safe as it used to be. As the illness progresses, it can become harder to move around your home and do the daily tasks you used to do.   Because ALS is a disease that affects motor function, navigating spaces that do not have enough room to get around can be challenging. But there’s no way around it. As the condition progresses, you will need to address home modifications. They may be minor at first but will be more drastic later. Modifications will feel significant because they are changes to your home – no matter how small or large the changes may be.   In addition to home modifications, there are a few techniques you can use to make it easier to get around when you leave your home.   What is ALS?  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. According to the ALS Association, the term amyotrophic comes from the Greek: “A” means no, “myo” means muscle, and “trophic” means nourishment. In short, that’s exactly what ALS is—the muscles don’t get …

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