Having a serious illness can take its toll on you in more ways than you might imagine. Your body is being affected by the illness, which usually brings some level of pain or discomfort, but it’s also emotionally draining – on both the patient and the family surrounding them. In situations like this, being able to lean on a Supportive Medicine team can make a huge difference. Although it’s not uncommon to have a brush with a serious condition at least once in your life – whether it’s a personal journey or someone you love who’s ill – I find that most patients don’t know what Supportive Medicine is or how much it can help them through what is likely an extremely difficult time.
Supportive Medicine Provides Relief
Simply put, Supportive Medicine focuses on providing relief for people who have chronic conditions. It is a multifaceted approach to healthcare, often involving specially trained doctors, nurses, social workers and specialists whose goal is to help you and your family feel as comfortable and at-ease as possible during your chronic illness. These teams can begin helping you and your family from the outset of your diagnosis.
A Team Approach
A team of Supportive Medicine specialists makes it their goal to make you physically and emotionally comfortable. They work in conjunction with your primary care physician and surgeons to assure that you’re receiving quality care. For example, if you or a loved one is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you might experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, depression, difficulty sleeping and anxiety about how your treatment will go. Your team will help you manage symptoms and will strive to help you explore your options, understand your goals and give information about your care to you and your family in an easily understandable way. The goal will be to help improve your quality of life and get you through the acute stage. Many people confuse Supportive Medicine with hospice. While hospice workers help patients feel as comfortable as possible, they deal specifically with end-of-life issues after treatment has stopped. Supportive Medicine teams help with treatment and management of a disease from the beginning of our diagnosis.
Conditions that May Benefit from Supportive Medicine Team Assistance
Some of the illnesses that Supportive Medicine can help with are:
- Congestive heart failure
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Liver disease
- Multiple sclerosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease, talk to your physician about Supportive Medicine.
Dr. Shira Amdur is board-certified in Internal Medicine and trained in palliative care. She cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus. Her clinical interests include Supportive Medicine and Internal Medicine.