Tag Archives: arthritis

Telemedicine – A Convenient HealthCare Choice for Winter Problems

Of all seasons, the convenience of telemedicine shines brightest in the winter. Who wants to venture out in the snowy cold to deal with a day of doctor’s appointments or ER waiting rooms when you can see a telemedicine doctor in under 15 minutes? There is no reason to risk a slip-and-fall on the way to the doctor if you can see one from the comfort of your own home. Let’s take a look at some common winter health issues that can easily be treated by telemedicine:

  1. Skin problems – The cold dry air of winter can exacerbate many skin conditions such as eczema and xerosis (extremely dry skin). Sometimes a prescription cream such as a topical corticosteroid is necessary to help winter-related skin flares, but why spend a whole day dealing with a doctor’s appointment or walk-in clinic in the cold when there is another option? You can be connected with a board-certified doctor in minutes who can take a look at your skin via video or photos and prescribe the exact cream you need in minutes flat.
  2. Colds and Respiratory infections – Cold and flu season brings with it more cold germs and infectious bacteria than any other time of year. Do you find you can’t shake the sniffles or worried you may have a sinus infection? Telemedicine can help! Our doctors are emergency experienced and ready to help with any of your sniffling, coughing and sneezing needs!
  3. Too-cold extremities – Do your hands or feet change color in winter and refuse to warm up? You may have Raynaud’s (or another circulation problem), so why not have a telemedicine doc take a look at your skin and deliver a diagnosis along with any necessary treatment? Or, has your skin looked different since you stayed out in the cold too long? If you’re worried you may have gotten a little frostnip (the first stage of frostbite), and want a doctor’s opinion, there’s no quicker or more opportune way to get it than via telemedicine.
  4. Sore throats – If you’ve had a sore throat for a few days and want to make sure you don’t have strep throat or another type of contagious illness, give telemedicine a try. Board certified doctors will look at your photos and look at your throat via high-definition video technology to determine whether you need prescription treatment or not.
  5. Arthritis flares – For reasons not completely explained by medical science, many arthritis sufferers experience flare-ups in the cold winter months. If you’re one of these people, avoid venturing out on the dangerous ice where you could slip and hurt yourself further. Telemedicine doctors can help with chronic condition management, so give it a try today!
  6. Chronic respiratory condition flares – if you have COPD or asthma, you probably find the winter cold to be extremely hard on the lungs. If so, your symptoms likely increase in the winter. Telemedicine doctors can assess your condition and alter your prescription treatment as necessary to help you get through the winter a little easier.

Are you convinced? Give telemedicine a try today! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll return again soon.







9 Health Reasons to Start Swimming Today

Ever wish you could roll the calming, strengthening and flexibility benefits of yoga, the cardio burst of running, and resistance training all into one convenient exercise method? Well, you can if you take up swimming. It is indubitably a great workout for people of all capabilities, ages and fitness levels. Here are 9 of the many health benefits regular swimming can provide:

  1. Regular swimming helps increase stamina and lung capacity. Some studies even show that athletic swimmers tend to perform better on lung function tests than runners. It can help those suffering with lung diseases such as asthma increase their capacities as well.
  2. Most anyone can swim, no matter what physical limitations they may have as it is an easily modifiable activity. You can swim like an Olympian or simply move your limbs in the water with floatation aids.
  3. Swimming can be a great cardiovascular workout as it keeps your heart rate up and the water provides great resistance to movement, making your heart work harder than performing the same actions on land.
  4. It is a low impact workout, making it much easier on the joints than running. For this reason, swimming is a great fitness choice for pregnant women, the elderly or those afflicted with arthritis or chronic joint pain.
  5. Unlike many sports such as cycling, that target one or two areas of the body, swimming can provide full-body conditioning. Moderate swimming utilizes your core, arms, legs, back muscles, and glutes to propel you forward.
  6. Frequent swimming can increase your flexibility as you stretch your limbs to move forward in the water in different swimming strokes that utilize different muscles.
  7. Regular swimming helps strengthen and build muscle as well as tone your body to help you become leaner.
  8. Swimming can help you burn hundreds of calories (depending on the length of time and intensity level), and can be an effective weight loss tool when performed routinely in combination with a healthy diet.
  9. Swimming can be great for your mental health as well, not only because it releases endorphins which help manage stress and pain (while making you feel fabulous), but is also calming to move gracefully through the cool water. Research also illustrates a link between regular swimming and easing symptoms of depression. So, forget the tensions of the day with a trip to the pool or lake!

Well that concludes our look at some of the many health benefits of swimming. Did our list make you want to find a lake and become a fish? Thanks for visiting DocChat, stay healthy and happy!





Gout Fast Facts

Gout is an excruciatingly painful form of inflammatory arthritis caused intermittently by excess uric acid buildup in the body.

Facts About Gouty Arthritis

  • Approximately 1 in 200 American adults is afflicted by gout.
  • Approximately 9 out of 10 gout sufferers are adult males.
  • How does gout work? Uric acid spikes (hyperuricemia) or uric acid buildup sometimes causes acidic crystals to form in the affected joint.
  • These uric acid crystal deposits are called tophi, and make the skin around the joint look lumpy.
  • Not all people with hyperuricemia develop gout – only if the excess uric acid causes crystals to form.
  • Uric acid is derived from the body’s absorption of purines (substances found within bodily tissues and in many foods we eat). Therefor, ingesting foods high in purines may bring on an attack of gout.
  • Gout attacks usually originate in the base joint of the big toe, but can occur in other joints such as the ankles, foot arches, wrists or knees (usually occurring in one joint at a time).
  • Symptoms of gout include: redness, swelling, agonizing pain, a bumpy appearance, warmth, significant stiffness and inability to bear weight.
  • Gout risk factors include: being of male gender, being overweight or obese, consuming too much alcohol, consuming too many purine-rich foods, taking certain medications or supplements such as diuretics or niacin, or having certain other health conditions such as high blood pressure or other forms of arthritis.
  • Gout affects different sufferers differently, attacks may occur months or years apart, or much more frequently. Treatment depends on the frequency and severity of attacks.
  • Gout attacks usually occur for 3-11 days, but some may be longer. While some people don’t experience a subsequent attack, up to 60% of sufferers will have another attack within a year.
  • Some sufferers who sustain uric acid elevation have a chronic form of the disease and require daily medication to prevent frequent attacks.
  • Some foods for gout sufferers to avoid include: high-fructose drinks such as soda, too much alcohol and purine rich foods. Sufferers should also be careful not to injure problematic joints.
  • Gout treatment varies per patient, but often includes anti-inflammatories to control swelling, corticosteroids as well as Colchicine (a plant-based medication that has been used to control gout for hundreds of years). In chronic cases, a daily uric-acid-reducing medication such as Allopurinol.
  • Other tips for those suffering an attack include: lower your stress (it aggravates the condition), rest, modify your diet to include anti inflammatory and low purine foods, apply ice to the area if possible and stay well hydrated (this can help lower uric acid).
  • Lastly, those who are prone to gout should consider adding tart cherries to their daily diet, as the medicinal properties of cherries for gout have been time (and research) proven. Read more about tart cherries and gout in our post about anti inflammatory foods.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about gout or arthritis, our board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365 to help!

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that predominantly affects people with the chronic skin condition psoriasis. PsA causes inflammation in many different joints as well as tendons, muscles and some organs. PsA has 5 different subtypes, a couple of which behave quite similarly to rheumatoid arthritis. There is no cure for PsA, but there are many symptom treatment option available that can greatly improve quality of life.

How Common is PsA?

Psoriasis (an autoimmune skin condition) affects about 2-3% of the American populous. PsA affects up to 30% of people who have psoriasis. Some people develop PsA before skin symptoms appear but this is not the norm. While it is a relatively uncommon disease, PsA is still more prevalent than many other types of arthritis, but less prevalent than osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. PsA is more common in people over the age of 30, but can strike any age, including children.

What Are Some of the Symptoms PsA?

As the disease is systemic and autoimmune in nature, it often affects the entire body causing diverse symptoms that may vary from patient to patient. Such symptoms may include:

  • General fatigue
  • Symmetrical or asymmetrical joint pain
  • Inflammation of the joints, muscles, tendons and other parts of the body
  • Spikes in uric acid (that may be mistaken for gout)
  • Severe chest pain similar to that of costochondritis
  • Stiffness (especially in the morning or evening)
  • Tendonitis and bursitis
  • Foot pain similar to plantar fasciitis
  • Inflammation and severe pain of the achillies tendon
  • Eye problems such as conjunctivitis
  • Swelling of the lungs, aorta or other organs (this may be hard to detect)
  • Very swollen ‘sausage fingers’ or toes
  • Lower back or pelvic pain and inflammation

As with many types of chronic conditions, PsA is often cyclical, causing frequent or infrequent “flare-ups” followed by periods of symptom remission.

Why Is The Doc Concerned With Your Nails?

Up to 80% of PsA sufferers wear telltale signs of the disease on their nails. Nail psoriasis is yet another manifestation of this all-encompassing disease. A rheumatologist will examine the persons nails for pitting (small horizontal dents), transverse ridges and crumbling or separation of the nail against the finger. Other PsA patients may have what resembles fungus on their nails as well which is another indicator of the disease.

What Does the Diagnostic Process Include?

It can be tricky to obtain a PsA diagnosis as it mimics many other conditions. PsA shares many common traits with Lupus, another pervasive, systemic autoimmune disease. It is also often mistaken for other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid or gouty arthritis. To make things trickier, gout is often comorbid with PsA, so the patient may have both types of arthritis. To diagnose PsA, a rheumatologist will:

  1. Examine the patient for signs such as those listed above.
  2. Investigate the patient’s family history (PsA and psoriasis have a significant genetic component).
  3. Conduct blood tests such as the rheumatoid factor test to rule out other diseases and look for signs of inflammation
  4. X-rays or MRIs of effected joints such as the lower back may be taken to look for any damage
  5. It may take several appointments to diagnose PsA

PsA Treatments

There are many medications on the market such as DMARD (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that can help modify and control PsA symptoms. Doctors also suggest lifestyle changes such as losing extra weight and healthy eating (check out our article on anti-inflammatory foods). It is also important to lower stress levels, as stress has been cited as a cause and trigger of psoriasis and PsA.

What is the Prognosis of PsA?

While PsA can be a very serious type of arthritis which can lead to crippling disability if left untreated, if it is detected early and managed well with appropriate medications and lifestyle changes, sufferers can lead happy, healthy, symptom-controlled lives.

If you have any questions about psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, don’t hesitate to sign up today for a video conference with one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians!

Chronic Pain Management Tactics (Part 1)

Over 100 million Americans suffer some form of chronic pain. This figure is heartbreaking and truly illustrates how important it is to create an open dialogue about chronic pain control. Without healthy management tactics, people may rely too heavily on medications or self medicate unhealthily with such substances as alcohol, drugs or cigarettes which can lead to other chronic health complications over time such as organ failure or cardiovascular disease.

Find Your Management Plan

There are various types of chronic pain from different forms of arthritis, to autoimmune pain, fibromyalgia to post-trauma pain, so treatments will work differently for each individual. With a little experimentation you can find the best pain management plan for you which, in tandem with your doctor’s recommendations, can allow you a better quality of life. Some non-pharmacological pain management techniques include:

  1. The Power of Touch

Touch may not completely banish the pain, but can divert focus from your discomfort to a more pleasurable sensation. Sensual and calmative touch releases the mood-boosting chemical oxytocin in the brain which works as a temporary natural analgesic. Many turn to sex for this euphoric fix, but a back rub will work just as well, a good cuddle or even getting a friend to play with your hair or scratch your back will give you enough warm fuzzies to at least tamp down pain sensations.

  1. Therapeutic Massage

Speaking of touch, millions of chronic pain sufferers find degrees of relief from professional therapeutic massage. Massage can help quell pain for various reasons. It increases circulation to damaged muscles and stiff joints by getting the blood flowing while simultaneously triggering the rapid release of opioids and the “love hormone’ oxytocin in the brain. Both opioids and oxytocin act as temporary natural painkillers. Massages also work to distract the brain from other ongoing aches and pains by redirecting it to the pleasurable or even harsh sensations an expert masseuse can deliver.

  1. Manage Your Stress to Manage Your Pain

When your body enters ‘fight or flight’ mode, it triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can worsen all kinds of pre-existing inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune conditions, arthritis or heart problems. Therefor, it stands to reason that alleviating your stress can also help assuage some of the pain and inflammation as well. Check out our post on stress busters for some stress management ideas.

  1. Mentally Guided Techniques

There are many psychological relaxation techniques that have shown positive results in both pain and stress reduction in some chronic pain sufferers. Some of these include guided meditation, progressive relaxation, or using biofeedback to monitor your body’s biological signals such as heart rate or blood pressure in an attempt to bring them down and calm your whole system.

A Closer Look At Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is arguably one of the best psychological relaxation techniques for pain management. It is the methodical tensing and releasing of each muscle group in your body when can help let go of tension in certain areas and relax all your muscles and joints (as well as your mind). Many chronic pain sufferers find this especially beneficial to help induce sleep as it can be tricky to catch some zzz’s when your joints are screaming. Overtime as you get better at progressive relaxation and gain more control over the various muscles in your body, you may feel more in control of your pain. Of course these tactics may not work for everyone but anything is worth a try, hey?

That concludes our part 1 of our pain management tips. Stay tuned for part 2 coming next to read more about how exercise, acupuncture, personal TENS machines and trigger point injections can help pain management! Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you have any questions or concerns about chronic pain management, sign up today for a video consultation with one of our highly trained physicians!


5 Foods With Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Many chronic conditions such as arthritis are the product of recurrent systemic inflammation. While it is important to stick to any treatment plan recommended by your doctor, making certain diet changes can help cut down on swelling and pain as well. Some foods that contain natural anti-inflammatory components include:

  1. Tart Cherries

Hundreds of years before mainstream medication hit the counters people were using cherries to combat inflammatory afflictions like arthritis (particularly gout). Is there merit to this tasty traditional remedy? Empirical studies are proving there is. In one Boston study of 633 gout sufferers, a group who ate 10 daily cherries saw a 50% lower risk of gout attacks over a two-day period than their non-cherry contemporaries. Another study on cherry juice for osteoarthritis sufferers found that patients who drank 16oz of tart cherry juice daily showed a significant decrease in such symptoms as pain, swelling and stiffness. Moreover, they showed lowered levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker commonly associated with arthritis. So the proof is in the (cherry) pudding!

  1. Holy Basil

Holy basil, also known as Sweet Thai basil is a subtype of the common household spice that comes from India. Holy basil has a myriad of impressive medicinal benefits, including anti-inflammatory, stress reducing, and even more impressively, antihistamine properties. One experiment with Wistar rats associated the ingestion of Holy basil with mast cell stabilization, lower IgE levels and inhibited release of inflammatory markers in the rats. It may not be an appetizing juxtaposition: spices and rats, but the study does illustrate how impressive Holy basil is as an anti-inflammatory food choice! So it certainly couldn’t hurt to start adding holy basil to your spice rotation. For information on other superstar spices check out our article on healthful spices.

  1. Salmon

Oily fish such as salmon are among the best foods to eat, especially if you have a chronic inflammatory condition as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, one of nature’s best anti-inflammatories. The benefits don’t end with your joints, one 2009 University of Hawaii study showed a 23% decline in cardiovascular disease in a group of men who ate boiled or baked fatty fish several times a week as compared to those who did not. Health professionals recommend eating at least 4oz twice weekly of oily fish such as salmon or mackerel to reap some of these healthful benefits.

  1. Olive Oil

Medical researchers have discovered that a compound in olive oil called Oleocanthal can inhibit the formation of the inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 in the body. Olive oil mimics exactly what NSAIDS like Advil do to reduce pain and swelling by blocking these detrimental inflammatory enzymes. It is suspected to have a noticeable impact on both acute flare-ups and chronic arthritic inflammation when taken daily.

  1. Cilantro

Cilantro is a health powerhouse herb which has long been used for its anti-inflammatory effects on such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory stomach conditions and even cardiovascular disease. Cilantro has also been celebrated for its diabetes, cancer and cholesterol fighting components. Cilantro is also packed to the gills with phytonutrients and anti-oxidant flavonoids, so stock up your spice cabinet with this stuff today!

More Anti-Inflammatory Choices

Other anti-inflammatory foods include beets, fruits (especially berries for their abundance of anti-oxidants), broccoli, celery and garlic. Stay tuned for our future article on inflammatory foods to avoid if you have issues with swelling.

If you have any questions or concerns about inflammation or medical treatment options for inflammatory conditions, feel free to sign up to DocChat today for a video consultation with one of our highly qualified, board certified physicians! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

5 Less Common Types Of Arthritis

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis encompasses over 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, affecting nearly 1 in 5 American adults. The three most prevalent types of arthritis that account for most cases are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Some of the less common, but equally as troublesome forms of arthritic conditions are:

         1. Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that predominantly affects the vertebrae of the spine, sometimes fusing them together creating chronic pain and swelling. The condition usually comes on in early adulthood and is more prevalent among males. It can also affect the hips, ribcage, breastbone, tendons in shoulders or heels, and the eyes. Medical science has discovered that people with the HLA-B27 gene may have a genetic vulnerability to developing the disease. If symptoms are present, doctors often do bloodwork and x-rays to help diagnose the condition.

  1. Palindromic Rheumatism

Palindromic rheumatism (PR) is a rare type of cyclical inflammatory arthritis (symptoms come and go) that often turns into rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both conditions have many similarities, but RA causes lasting joint damage, whereas PR does not. It is equally as prevalent between males and females, and usually starts in early to mid adulthood. PR consists of periods of symptom-free lulls, and periods of days, weeks or months where 2-3 joints will become inflamed and painful, as well as the surrounding connective tissue. No one laboratory test can diagnose this condition, but may help rule out others. Treatment usually consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or antimalarials.

  1. Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is usually the result of an infection that changes the body’s ability to defend itself against other infections or environmental factors. It can be a one-time occurrence causing joint inflammation for a period of days or weeks before subsiding organically, or it can become a chronic form of arthritis that may require treatment and managing by a rheumatologist or another arthritis specialist. Reactive arthritis can affect multiple joints, causing significant pain and swelling.

  1. Scleroderma

Scleroderma is another disease that crosses over between an arthritic condition and autoimmune disease. It works by hardening the skin and the organs, which creates many inflammatory and pain problems within the body. Scleroderma affects the skin, connective tissue and organs and can be quite debilitating and pervasive. As with many autoimmune diseases, there is no cure but different medications are available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Only about 500,000 American people are afflicted by Scleroderma, and while it isn’t technically a genetic disease, it tends to be more prevalent within certain family pools.

There you have a few lesser known arthritic conditions! Keep and eye out for more less known types of arthritis in the future. If you suffer from these diseases or have any questions about arthritis in general feel free to sign up to DocChat today to begin a video consultation with one of our highly qualified physicians! Thanks for visiting, we hope you’ll be back soon.


11 Activities For The Mobility Impaired

Sticking to regular exercise can be challenging for anyone, let alone those with barriers like mobility impairments, chronic pain, restrictively obesity or being wheelchair bound. Luckily being mobility restricted doesn’t have to mean no exercise. You can still lead a fulfilling active lifestyle by adapting your exercise regimen to best suit your needs.

Exercises for Joint Pain Sufferers

  1. Water aerobics – is one of the best exercises for anyone with limited mobility and can be especially beneficial for those with joint pain because water negates effects of gravity which greatly alleviates pressure on the joints.
  2. Walking – is an excellent and versatile low-impact workout for those suffering with chronic joint or back pain. You can go at your own pace, walk with a buddy or alone, listen to music, and walk inside or outdoors.
  3. Yoga – can be especially beneficial for people with joint problems as it can help increase flexibility and build and tone muscles. The benefits of stretching have been widely acknowledged for chronic pain sufferers and the elderly.
  4. Rowing Machines – are relatively easy on the joints because of the fluid motion. If you have trouble with your lower body joints, you can focus on working out your upper body with these machines.
  5. Ballroom Dancing – is a gentle, graceful workout that is easy on faulty joints so grab a partner and start 1-2 stepping today!
  6. Golf – is another gentle sport. It can help tone the arm and oblique muscles, and if you walk between holes it adds another level of low impact exercise to the day. Be sure to adequately block-up to avoid skin damage from the sun!
  7. Balance Ball Exercises – can be beneficial for those with joint pain, as you can use the ball in whatever way best suits your needs. Do exercises like sit-ups on top of the ball, gently bounce to strengthen your core (be careful of the knees), lie on the floor and use your legs to lift the ball, or you can do arm exercises by raising the ball over your head (this works best with weighted balls).

Exercises for Handicapped People and the Restrictively Obese

  1. Chair Exercises – are a popular method of exercise among the wheelchair bound or restrictively obese as you can gently tone the upper body using weights and other aerobic motions. There are many free instructional videos online to help you get started.
  2. Alternative Workout Machines – Workout machines such as the arm cycle that can be set up on a table and used to tone and strengthen the upper body and to achieve good cardiovascular exercise.
  3. Resistance and weight training – doing arm curls and raises with weights of various sizes is another excellent way to exercise and build muscle while stationary. Resistance band training can help with mobility, muscle strength and flexibility.
  4. Water exercises – are ideal for people with disabilities that restrict or prohibit the use of their legs, as water creates gentle resistance against motion which can help strengthen any working muscles.
  5. Wheelchair Sports – There are leagues and teams for wheelchair basketball, volleyball and other popular sports in most any city, and if it doesn’t exist in your area – start one!

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope some of these ideas helped spark some exercise inspiration for those who have been struggling to find the right activity for their needs!




Invisible Disabilities (Part 1) – More Than Meets The Eye

A disability is a chronic health condition that interferes with one’s daily living by impeding routine activities. So what’s an invisible disability? According to Disabled-World, the term refers to people with chronic debilitating conditions (mental or physical) that are not obvious to an onlooker. Someone with a severe vision problem may use a seeing eye dog, or someone with a spinal cord injury may occupy a wheelchair, whereas people with invisible disabilities have no visible aids or obvious defining characteristics.

Types Of Invisible Disabilities

The Invisible Disabilities Association states, “There are thousands of (invisible) illnesses, disorders, diseases, dysfunctions, birth defects, impairments and injuries that can be debilitating.” A few examples of invisible disabilities include any type of moderate-to-severe arthritis, autoimmune conditions such as lupus, mental disabilities like schizophrenia or severe anxiety, diabetes, heart ailments, seizure disorders, respiratory diseases, bowel conditions, brain injuries, among many others.

Facts And Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of the American population lives with one or more chronic health issues, though many of which are not considered disabilities. The CDC states that arthritis is the most common disability with over 53 million sufferers countrywide with some form of the disease. Moreover, The Invisible Illness Association asserts that over 26 million Americans have what constitutes a severe disability and of that group only 6 million use crutches, canes, wheelchairs or other obvious aids. Therefore, a whopping 74% of Americans with severe debilitating conditions have disabilities of the invisible variety.

Human Nature – Seeing Is Believing

Unfortunately, there is a social stigma surrounding invisible illness in our society. You’ve heard the old adage ‘seeing is believing’. In actuality, that should rarely be the case. According to Media Toolkit (a non-profit awareness and education group), invisible disabilities are often met with hostility. “People with some kinds of invisible disabilities such as chronic pain or sleep disorders are often accused of faking or imagining their disabilities.” This unhealthy attitude is unfair and needs an overhaul.

Mental Illness Stigma

Psychology Today asserts that such discrimination and prejudicial behavior is unfortunately commonly associated with mental illness. “In relation to social stigma, studies have suggested that stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental health problems are widespread and commonly held.” This approach needs to change as well, as these negative attitudes trivialize the struggles of so many people who suffer daily, often leaving them feeling alienated from others.

Confusion? Understandable. Prejudice? Not So Much.

It is reasonable that some people are confused about what constitutes a disability. As the statistics show, just because someone has an illness does not mean they have a disability. Often people who appear to be incapacitated are not, while people who appear perfectly healthy are actually quite restricted. Many people feel they know someone who “capitalizes on an illness” or exaggerates, but looks truly can be deceiving and our initial assessments of a person’s situation are often completely wrong.

Clearing Up The Confusion

The Invisible Disabilities Association addresses these misconceptions. “Just because a person has a disability, does not mean they are disabled. Many living with these challenges are still fully active in their work, families, sports or hobbies. Some with disabilities are able to work full or part time, but struggle to get through their day, with little or no energy for other things. Others are unable to maintain gainful or substantial employment due to their disability, have trouble with daily living activities and/or need assistance with their care.” So while we may interact with people who have invisible illnesses, we never really know what living someone else’s life truly entails.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 – a revolutionary theory explaining invisible illnesses in a relatable way, as well as some resources for people suffering with chronic disabilities.