The Mainstream Medical System Is Not Focused on Treating Chronic Illness
Multisystemic chronic disease, also known as multi-system disease or multiple organ involvement, refers to a condition in which multiple organ systems are affected by a chronic disease for prolonged periods (commonly known as “Long-haul”).
COVID has created global awareness of this phenomenon around the world. Chronic disease is at higher levels than ever before. All doctors are seeing more chronic pain, mast cell activation, POTS, chronic fatigue, brain inflammation changing memory/mood, cardiovascular inflammation/thickening of blood, and digestive issues. Yet there is a shortage of practitioners who are trained to treat these illnesses, because they require a different approach.
Treat the Causes of Chronic Disease, Not Just the Symptoms
Insurance companies and the current medical system are geared towards providing diagnosis, specific treatments, and managing symptoms with medications. If you do not fit within a certain box then this is where the conversation ends for most patients – with a referral to another specialist or a suggestion that psychological issues are triggering the illness.
Too often, chronic conditions are supported with prescriptions for symptom management, instead of the time, investigation, and patience it requires to understand the root causes of the disease. Our goals in clinic are to help a patient evolve and move through the difficulties to come out the other side to a better quality of life. Ideally, they will move off medications or take the least amount of medication possible to maintain healthy quality of life.
Lyme Disease and Long Haul COVID
Those with Lyme Disease know very well the cost of recovery from a complex chronic illness. This cost can come in the form of prolonged emotional trauma, mental stress, physical pain, and a negative socioeconomic impact that can last for years. Now patients with complex chronic illness after acquiring COVID are facing the same obstacles to receiving treatment.
I have specialized in treating chronic persisting illness for over 17 years. Over time I have witnessed commonalities between the patterns of Lyme disease, associated tick-borne infections, and COVID:
Prolonged Duration and Long-Term Management
Symptoms can persist for weeks or months after the initial infection. Some individuals may experience symptoms for even longer periods. They’re typically long-lasting and require ongoing management and care. Treatment approaches often focus on symptom management, reducing the pathogen load or toxins, supporting the body’s immune/hormone system, psychological/social support, physical therapies, and addressing the specific needs of each affected organ system. The management of these conditions may involve a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.
Symptoms of long-haul infection can vary in intensity and duration. Some individuals may experience symptom flare-ups followed by periods of relative improvement, while others may have persistent symptoms throughout. Some individuals may develop new symptoms that were not present during the initial infection. Multisystemic chronic illness can manifest in various ways. Common symptoms reported include fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, muscle pain, weakness, cognitive difficulties, immune dysregulation, muscle weakness, sleep disturbances, headaches, cardiovascular inflammation, changes in sensory perception (taste, smell, vision, hearing, touch) and gastrointestinal issues.
Many individuals with long-haul diseases experience a worsening of symptoms after physical or mental exertion. Even mild activity can lead to increased fatigue and a prolonged recovery period.
Long-haul infections can impact multiple organs and systems, including the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, neurological system, gastrointestinal system, endocrine system, and musculoskeletal system.
Impact on Daily Functioning
Long-haul infections can significantly affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities and maintain their usual quality of life. The persistent symptoms can lead to physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges. The presence of multiple symptoms, functional limitations, and the need for ongoing medical care can lead to physical, emotional, and social challenges. Individuals may experience reduced ability to engage in daily activities, limitations in work or school, and increased psychological distress.
The complexity of multisystemic chronic illnesses can pose diagnostic challenges for healthcare providers. The symptoms can be nonspecific and overlap with other conditions, making it difficult to reach a definitive diagnosis. This can leave a patient with confusion, frustration and feeling abandoned by their healthcare providers. Additionally, the symptoms may fluctuate or evolve over time, further complicating the diagnostic process. Patients are typically volleying from one specialist to another.
Challenges of Living with Chronic Disease
- As indicated by the term Long-haul, it is a marathon not a sprint to recovery.
- The need to see multiple doctors, which increases medical expenses while taking time away from work.
- Not being believed by family members, medical practitioners, or employers.
- Household stress for the family member who is sick, and “caretaker fatigue” for the loved ones who are carrying the burden.
- Medical trauma from prolonged suffering and lack of emotional support.
A Different Approach to Treating Complex Chronic Disease
At Greenhouse Natural Medicine we focus on the root causes of chronic disease and treat the whole patient, not just the symptoms. Our approach includes:
- Running labs that will do a deeper dive into contributing factors that are prolonging illness (inflammation markers, heavy metal, mold toxins, co-infections, sinus infections, food allergies, hormone testing).
- Taking time with patients to listen to the whole story and connect the dots with a whole-body system approach.
- Integrative approaches that support the body in its recovery (prescription management, herbs, nutrient therapy, red light/ultraviolet light therapy, ozone therapies, peptides, immunotherapies, IV nutrient support, homeopathy, neurofeedback, and energy healing). Our doctors attend training to stay current on the most up-to-date treatments and stay open minded to the ever-changing landscape of medicine.
- Understanding that none of these issues are a quick fix. It takes time, patience, persistence, and creating a safe space for patients to be candid about their difficulties without judgement.
Please make an appointment with Greenhouse Natural Medicine if you are seeking treament for complex chronic disease. We are with you for the Long-haul!
By Julia Greenspan, ND