The chiropractor gave me a puzzled look. And what are you taking that for, again? he asked as he made his way down the list of medications I had handed him. It’s no wonder he seemed confused. I was seeing him for headaches, which seemed to stem from my newly diagnosed osteoarthritis in my neck. Before he could treat me for that, however, he had to understand the impact of all the other chronic illnesses I had: migraines, hypothyroidism, seizure disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.

Which symptom goes with which disease?

Managing your health can be tricky when you’re dealing with multiple chronic illnesses, starting with identifying which symptom goes with which disease. One of the trickiest scenarios is deciphering whether that joint pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis when you’ve been diagnosed with both. Hypothyroidism can also cause joint pain, as can certain vitamin deficiencies and other illnesses.

As I have learned, assumptions can often be wrong. I thought my RA might be flaring up in my neck, but my bloodwork was fine. X-rays gave a different diagnosis – that of osteoarthritis. The diseases had similar names, but different treatment regimens. I was grateful to stay on the same RA meds but had to add additional therapies to get relief from the OA.

Safely managing multiple medication regimens.

Adding new prescriptions or even over-the-counter remedies also calls for added safety measures. I never rely on doctors to check interactions, but rather ask my pharmacist to do so each time I add a medication. Several websites have drug interaction checkers, which also include checks for food interactions and will tell you if you’re taking multiple drugs that do the same thing. They have been invaluable at keeping me safe as I have added or changed medications. Your Health Advisor can recommend these, and will even do the check for you if you can’t find the time to do it yourself.

Educating yourself about medications can also help you make better choices today, as you look to the future. For instance, I am taking what many consider an entry-level drug – Plaquenil – to manage my RA. If that ever stops working, my doctor has said the drug they would try next is Methotrexate, and so when I was recently considering long-term pharmaceutical options for treating my chronic headaches, I checked drug interactions with Methotrexate as well. Now I am confident that if my rheumatologist changes my RA drug regimen, I don’t need to be concerned about changing the treatment for my other conditions.

Your Pack Health Advisor can help.

One of the greatest benefits of being a Pack Health member is having a personal Health Advisor who can help you look at the bigger picture when it comes to managing your chronic health issues. Since I joined Pack Health to better manage RA, my advisor has helped me to determine if what I am experiencing is related to this condition and if I need to check with my doctor about other conditions I may have. I have specialists for different things, so she helps me figure out who to talk to when. She also helps me make sure all these doctors are on the same page and is there for me in between doctor’s visits. She walks me through the tiny steps I can take day-to-day to help me live better, no matter how many conditions I am juggling.  At the end of the day, she’s the one who holds me accountable for the little things that affect how I feel.

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Not yet a member of Pack Health?

Figure out your first steps with one-on-one support to start getting ahead of your health needs.  Click here to get your own personal Health Advisor. They’ll be your coach, guide, and accountability system as you work to get your health under control and feel better overall.

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