Self care becoming more common for chronic ailments


Self care becoming more common for chronic ailments

Although many people may think about self care as treating minor symptoms that likely don’t need the attention of the family doctor or emergency room, it’s also becoming increasingly important in the treatment of chronic issues, according to Gerry Harrington, vice president, policy and regulatory affairs with Consumer Health Products Canada.

“We’ve done quite a few surveys of Canadian attitudes, so we know there are things that Canadians prefer to self manage and take control of their own health,” he said. “About three quarters of Canadians have told us through surveys that they prefer to self care for minor ailments themselves, but self care is also playing a bigger role in chronic ailments.”

As Canadians age, more and more people are living with chronic issues and many people are taking the things they have learned dealing with minor health issues and applying that sort of knowledge to the chronic health problems they are now getting, said Harrington.

“An increasingly important part of self-care for policy makers is around the management of chronic disease – people with diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure. All of these things are symptoms of aging and a longer living population,” he said. “People are playing a bigger role in their own health, but often in collaboration with a heath professional.”

The collaboration aspect is crucial as self care needs to be based on sound medical advice, according to Harrington.

“You doctor has diagnosed you with diabetes. He has given you some guidance and prescriptions for medication or insulin, but on top of that, there are all the physical and dietary things you have to do to live with the disease. That’s a really important part of self care,” he said. “It’s really almost a distinct branch and an increasingly important one. If you look at what the analysts say, the biggest challenge for the healthcare industry going forward is a much higher burden of chronic disease.”

On top of treating chronic diseases, self-care is also growing in terms of prevention of diseases and other health issues. Harrington said that self-care is often associated with the treatment of the symptoms of minor ailments, but there are many products on the market that are preventative in nature that are included in self care.

“We often talk about the largely symptomatic treatment of minor ailments but there’s also the preventative angle. Things like wearing sunscreen to lower the risk of skin cancer. There’s also smoking cessation, nicotine replacement products, natal supplementation for moms and various other vitamin therapies, which all help prevent health issues before they start,” said Harrington.

This article, written by Alberta-based freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by Postmedia Agency.