Ankylosing Spondylitis: Suseptibility to Other Conditions Due to Medication Side Effects

An autoimmune disease & chronic inflammatory condition such as Ankylosing Spondylitis has its fair share of symptoms, so it’s incredibly discouraging to discover that AS sufferers are also susceptible to a multitude of other conditions. When you add incredibly strong medications to this equation, the potential for developing other chronic conditions increases considerably.  These are some of the other chronic conditions that Ankylosing Spondylitis patients who are taking Remicade, Humira, Enbrel, Fenofibrate, Polaramine, Oxycontin, Novorapid, Percocet, Levemir and Naprosyn most often developed while on the above meds:

Acute Pancreatitis (Inflammation of Pancreas)
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (NIDDM/Adult Onset Diabetes)
Diabetes mellitus (DM Covers many forms of Diabetes)
Peripheral vascular disorder (PVD)
Gastrooesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Autoimmune thyroiditis (Inflammation of the Thyroid)
Gastritis prophylaxis (Disease of the Stomach/Inflammation of Mucus Membrane)

When you open the informational packet which is usually enclosed with your meds, you read of the many potential side effects and most often discount the risks for experiencing them (or) side effects such as these aren’t included because many who develop these additional conditions feel that they are unique and independent of their meds, disease or condition, so connections aren’t made and often not reported.  These connections are also not made frequently by doctors. However, many AS patients who are on these medications have these conditions. This should be enough to point your doctor in the right direction, if you are experiencing related symptoms.

There really is no win/win when it comes to medications there are either numerous side effects or after becoming quite dependent upon them they simply cease to work, because as the body metabolizes these substances, it also builds up a tolerance.  However, knowing of these additional risks prior to taking medications is incredibly helpful, because it arms patients with the knowledge they need to better care for themselves. For example knowing that you are at a higher risk for diabetes might motivate you to exercise daily and eat healthier foods. Such as eliminating simple carbs, sugars and starches. This knowledge might also motivate others who are in the position do so, to manage their disease without the use of  the harsh medications, while also embracing the importance of a “whole body” approach. I was fortunate enough to have several years of experience with natural, more healthier options to manage my AS and my exposure to Naprosyn was limited, but that does not mean that I’ve come away completely unscathed, because often the side effects from these medications are irreversible. I discontinued Diclofenac (a form of Naprosyn) after experiencing Gastritis prophylaxis, as a result of H. Phylori, a stomach infection.  Accompanied by my frustration with dropping 30 lbs, a year with severe stomach pain, no diagnoses and the fact that several specialists had no clue as to why I was so sick. Well, it was quite easy for me to connect my new, debilitating symptoms to the medication.  I also have additional symptoms to manage now, that I did not have prior to taking this medicine for several years.

I respect the extensive knowledge and medical training of my Rheumatologist, and completely understand that his recommendations were “medically” based and as a result I was convinced like perhaps many AS sufferers, that it was impossible to manage this disease without meds.  However, I’m living proof that this is in fact not true at all. If we’re willing to step outside the “medicine box” we can find many natural solutions. Of course needs & results will vary from person to person, but I’ve done quite well with a healthy eating regimen (low-carb, low-starch, no-dairy, no-gluten), regular exercise and by controlling both my pain and inflammation with natural Cox 2 Inhibitors. Patients need to know that they have options, prior to subjecting their bodies to these numerous side effects, and this is precisely what motivated me to launch The Positive Pear.

The Human Spirit Needs Nature Which Heals Our Mind & Body

“The Human Spirit Needs Places Where Nature Has not Been Rearranged By the Hand of Man” ~Unknown~

Yay, warm weather is here, as we’re quickly approach the official first day of Summer. Like many of you, I long for this time of year when I can spend time outdoors and I also look forward to taking advantage of the many opportunities to reconnect with nature.  This longing for fun in the sun and fresh air is not only rejuvenating both physically and mentally, the great outdoors also offers us incredible healing benefits. Scientists have discovered that by spending time outside we increase our exposure to phytoncides which naturally reduce stress.  People who take walks in the park where they encounter many plants and trees, versus walks in the city where they are surrounded by buildings and cement sidewalks, had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure readings.  In several other studies, specifically one that took place in April 2007, showed an increase in white blood cells within a group of 12 healthy men ranging in ages 37-55 , who took two-hour walks in a forest over a two-day period.  In January 2008, a group of women who also participated in a very similar experiment entitled “forest bathing” had an increase in white blood cells and a reduction in anti-cancer proteins, which lasted up to one week due to their exposure of phytoncides which are found in forest air.

The beach is another place to go for wonderful healing benefits. Salt water is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and bromide which not only accelerates the healing of cuts, it also helps to fight infections, reduces inflammation of joints and relieves muscle pain and soreness. Salt water also stimulates blood circulation, increases moisture retention, detoxifies and promotes cellular regeneration.  As a result it offers beautifying and anti-aging benefits, for both the inner and outer body.  Regular beach time & salt water swimming also offers healing benefits for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.  In summary, spending quality time in nature, offers us incredible physical and psychological benefits, such as recovery from stress,  increased relaxation, decreased mental fatigue, better performance, restored mental clarity, increased immune function for improved heath, healing and an increased overall sense of well-being.

Best Places to Enjoy Nature

1) Beach

2) Mountains

3) Local Parks

4) National Parks

5) Landscapes

6) Camp Sites

A Few Outdoor Nature Activities for Summer:

1) Walking

2) Biking

3) Hiking

4) Rollerblading

3) Boating

4) Kayaking

5) Canoeing

 6) Paddle Boarding

7) Swimming

8) Camping

9)  Outdoor Meditation & Relaxation

10) Outdoor Yoga & Fitness Classes

Want to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally? Increase the amount of time that you spend outdoors surrounded by nature!

Natural Stress Management Techniques via The Positive Pear

Keep Going In Spite of That Pain You Feel!

“Keep going. That pain you feel? That’s fear melting away. Like wax off a candle. That’s weakness washing out of your pores like a monsoon. That’s the old you being shed away like dead skin. That’s the new you, rising out of the ashes of your former self.”

Natural Pain Management on The Positive Pear:

The Healing Power of Ginger

Electrotherapy Pain Management For Ankylosing Spondylitis & Other Chronic Pain Conditions

Is There A Prescription for Yoga In Your Future?

Enjoy Summer-Eat Healthy Fruit While Reducing Pain and Inflammation

This is a fun time of year because it’s not only easier for people to make healthier food choices, it’s easy to find fun, healthy foods. Have you checked out your local farmers markets and food co-ops? If not, this is a great time to locate those nearest in preparation for your summer food shopping. A fun, easy and very healthy food to begin with is “fruit” it’s sweet, delicious and easy on the digestive system. Which is good for those who battle digestive issues such as IBS and IBDs. We’re less likely to crave comfort foods this time of year, so consuming more fruit is a great way to begin our day and a great way to wrap it up, by eating nice healthy fruit filled desserts. Fruit has incredible healing benefits, offering enzymes, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and cancer fighting tannins & flavonoids. For us Ankylosing Spondylitis & Autoimmune Arthritis Sufferers, fruit also offers amazing anti-inflammatory properties, while reducing pain and swelling. According to the Article: Inflammation and Foods That Fight via Arthritis Today, it is very important to consume a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables routinely for best results.  This is one of many steps toward achieving and maintaining a healthy “holistic” lifestyle. By eating fruit we reduce inflammation, pain and swelling, while increasing energy levels and wellness.  We also reduce the likelihood of developing age-related and degenerative diseases such as certain types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.  We also enjoy the added benefit of improving skin appearance, our moods and mental sharpness. Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory & low-glycemic fruits are: berries, cherries, apples, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, plums & of course pears. What is your favorite fruit? Enjoy your summer even more by adding healthy, delicious fruit to your diet!

Live, Love, Laugh: Stress Awareness & Management

As a Holistic Health Advocate, stress is one of the leading topics that I cover with my clients. As a Health, Wellness & Fitness Professional, Speaker and Presenter, I’m also asked to speak on and write about related topics and stress of course is one that I’m asked to cover.  It’s also a topic that I reference quite frequently in many posts via my blog “The Positive Pear.” Most recently I was asked to cover this very topic in which I entitled “Live, Love & Laugh Stress Awareness & Management” it also happened to be “Stress Awareness Month.”  Here are a few highlights from that discussion….  People often discount the adverse effects of stress and its negative impact on our mind, body and emotions. Stress is directly linked to the six leading causes of death which are, heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents and suicide.  Stress management is incredibly important for everyone and especially for those of us who are living with and battling chronic invisible illness & autoimmune disease, because not only are we more susceptible to stress, but having frequent bouts of stress can trigger many symptoms of our conditions. Long term exposure to high levels of stress can even cause a healthy body to remain in constant “fight or flight” mode with an inability to properly regulate the production of stress hormones. The continued release of these hormones can lead to impaired immunity. Which can lead to chronic conditions like adrenal fatigue, thyroid imbalance and several aging related diseases. Symptoms of stress often include, allergies, fatigue, chronic headaches, unexplained weight gain, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, digestive issues, depression, memory impairment,  heart disease, strokes, and certain types of autoimmune disease.

Avoid  ineffective fall back methods:

It is important to recognize your stressors and to take the appropriate action which would be either to avoid, alter, adapt or accept situations in which we’ve been exposed. Avoid resorting to methods which only temporarily reduce stress while creating other problems, such as drinking, pills, drugs, smoking, overeating, sleeping too much, zoning out, running away/becoming overly busy, procrastinating, withdrawing from friends, family and activities in addition to lashing out.

More Effective Ways of Managing Stress:

Remember that everyone encounters stress, working professionals, business owners, new parents, stay at home moms  & dads, single people, married couples, teens & even children.  The earlier in life that we learn to recognize the symptoms of stress and how to manage & cope the better. It is also very important to adapt effective coping mechanisms and to utilize these techniques regularly: First and foremost, know your limits and recognize when you’re exceeding them. learn to say “no” when appropriate.  There is an example with the use of “spoons” and how it relates to the energy level of those of us who are battling chronic invisible illness. We’re only allocated so many per day and if we use too many, then we’re depleted and we run the risk of not being able to accomplish things that are incredibly important. We’re then forced to pick and choose our activities based on the number of spoons we have each day.  This example can apply to everyone whether they’re chronically ill or incredibly healthy , ecause we all encounter stress and we can encounter it regularly. Simply put, do not take on more responsibly than you can handle. Be mindful of your association, support systems and friends and choose wisely.  Avoiding negative, confrontational and toxic people who cause you stress.

Take Control of Your Life: Utilize proper time management skills,  plan ahead, stay organized, prioritize and choose methods which help you to avoid stressors.

Check in Emotionally: Voice your feelings by speaking up for yourself or talking it out with a friend or family member. Work on developing or utilizing effective communication skills, rather than holding things inside and allowing them build up. This might also require becoming more assertive. Also be willing to compromise in situations and make personal adjustments if needed.

Change Your Way of Thinking:  By changing your perspective you’re more apt to seeing the bigger picture, instead of seeing only the many individual problems that you may encounter.  Adjust expectations that you have of yourself and others by making sure you have a realistic view of  life.  This is especially important  if you are a perfectionist (like me). In doing so you’re less likely to set yourself up for disappointment and failure.

Acceptance is Crucial: Accept yourself for who you are, where you are and what you have to offer. Accept things which you can not control, such as the behavior of other people and focus on things that you can control such as your reactions. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people and allow them to make mistakes by forgiving them and letting go of anger and resentment, which will free you from negativity.

Adjust Your Attitude by Focusing on the Positive! How we think has a profound impact on our emotional and physical well-being thus affecting our ability to manage stress. Look at bad experiences as life’s learning opportunities. Do not remain here in this bad place even if you’re at fault. Simply make the appropriate adjustments, pick up the pieces and move on.  When things are out of control, take a moment to think about all of those things that are going right in your life and all of the things that you are truly appreciative. Focusing on even the smallest of gifts, talents and  accomplishments can help us to keep things in proper perspective.

Lastly but certainly not least, Live, Love, Laugh and enjoy life and all that it has to offer! Nurture and pamper yourself, get a message, exercise regularly, take a yoga class, practice meditation and relaxation techniques. Take a long hot bath, with scented lavender candles and relaxing music.  Curl up with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea, write in your journal, or on your blog, surround yourself with nature by taking advantage of a good walk, a long hike, a bike ride, or by working in the garden.  Always remember that balance in life is crucial  and that we can all benefit from having a little more fun, relaxation, laughter and enjoyment.

 Since 1992 April has been Stress Awareness Month

Additional tips on managing stress via “The Positive Pear” Natural Stress Management Technique, Deep Breathing Technique to Reduce Stress, Relaxation is Good for the Mind, Body & Soul, Is There A Prescription for Yoga In Your Future?