A guide to managing pain from home when you’re sick

Photo Credit: Peshkova/iStock Photo

As our country is faced with a pandemic, Americans show their determination and battle the coronavirus with whatever tools are made available to them. The spectacle of a previously divided country coming together to develop ingenuitive solutions is cathartic for many. With the philosophy of solution-focused thinking in mind, this article will be concerned with empowering the individual to manage sickness from home, be it coronavirus or another illness. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 80% of individuals who come down with coronavirus will recover without special treatment.

This means a large majority of those who battle coronavirus will be doing so independently. Thankfully, in many cases of coronavirus the symptoms resemble that of a flu virus, meaning that the primary symptoms to consider are congestion, headaches and body pain, and respiratory dysfunction/pain. While certainly unpleasant these symptoms are within the bounds of the individual to manage without physician intervention, usually through suppression of discomfort until the body’s immune system defeats the virus naturally over time. With this in mind one of the most constructive strategies for managing illness is to get pain symptoms under control.

Interesting Facts on Pain

(Sourced from PainHack’s “Amazing Pain Facts”)

  • Pain is an important function of the human body, designed to alert the individual to issues within the body.
  • Chronic pain affects more than 115 million Americans.
  • Testing for pain is notoriously difficult.
  • Because of this, the strategy is tailored toward each individual.
  • A recent study has shown the touch of a loved one can lessen the pain response.
  • Many people are in pain and do not know it, as the pain is blocked out by the brain, or the placebo effect.
  • There are 17 different types of headaches.
  • Laugher, excitement, and love all release endorphins which reduce pain.

Evaluating Levels and Types of Pain

One of the reasons that pain management is a notoriously troublesome subject for healthcare providers is that the objective of care is muddied by the patient’s intentions. Unfortunately, it is all too common for deceitful individuals to attempt a manipulation of healthcare professionals in order to obtain pain medicine. But in the case of a pandemic like this and in the context of this article, this is not a problem, because we are discussing the real pain that accompanies the coronarius, and illness like it. We are also more concerned with outlining the best strategies for care at home, and thus high-risk medications will not play a role in our advice.

Beyond the problem of deceitful intent however, there is a more conceptual issue of defining pain. Each individual has a different level of pain tolerance, meaning that what is extreme pain to one person, might be mild and manageable to another person. In other words, research in this area has shown us that pain is subjective. So let us explore the best methods for evaluating the various levels and types of pain. Here’s a quick step by step to evaluate your pain symptoms

  • Most practical and widely accepted method for evaluating pain involves a standardized point system.
  • Using the scale from the image above, plot your pain along the spectrum.
  • Ask yourself the following questions to help the process.
  • Is it the worst pain you have ever experienced?
  • Is it disruptive to your daily activities?
  • Does the pain recede into the back of your mind when you focus on other tasks?
  • Where is the pain occurring?
  • Is it constant, or intermittent?

When determining an individual’s pain level, there is no “correct” answer. But going through these steps will also have you much more prepared when you consult a physician, should your symptoms become more severe. This severity which drives an individual toward seeking help will depend on the person.

Some people are able to go about life as normal while bearing a level 7 pain, some people will be distracted from their daily functions by a much lower level. And this illustrates an important point. When managing the pain of an illness, the necessary strategies required are determined mostly by the level of dysfunctionality caused by the pain. In other words, the strategy might be the same for someone who experiences extreme pain and for someone who experiences mild pain, if the pain is disrupting their lives in the same way.

The Primary Objective: Alleviating Dysfunction

So if you or someone you love finds themselves battling illness from home, be it coronavirus or something else, the same principles apply. The most important question to ask is, “What are the current consequences of the pain that are most troublesome?” Is the pain itself so severe that focus should be applied on lessening the pain responses? Or is the pain secondary, in which case the disruption is caused by other aspects of symptomatology?

In the case of coronavirus for instance, respiratory pain may be exponentially increased by other factors like the frequency of coughing fits, or level of dehydration. In other words, it is important to establish if the pain experienced can be lessened by some indirect strategy. If coughing is extremely painful, it is much more realistic to attempt to reduce the cough itself, rather than attempting to reduce the pain experienced from the cough.

Another important point to make is that the experience of pain is often multiplicative. In other words, if you are trying to work from home while bearing the brunt of symptoms. It is much harder to focus if you also have back pain on top of everything else. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of not pushing the body too far, because combining lung pain with existing pain may overtax your mental ability to cope with the pain response.

If you are dealing with pain-symptoms of an illness, you will likely need to adapt aspects of your daily life to fit respectively. Make sure your chair supports a healthy posture, hydrate, and take care of your body. The basic rules of health, which many Americans perceive as optional, are now mandatory–particularly if you are managing pain-symptoms.

A Common Sense of Approach

With more Americans sick than ever and with more risk associated with hospital and clinic visits, it is crucial for Americans to take on a more active role in managing their illness from home. And as described above, much of the strategies involved can be summed up as a common sense approach. With the coronavirus symbolizing a wakeup call for many Americans, this wakeup call should translate to smarter decisions in individual health.

When previously we might have gotten away with working long hours, eating unhealthy, or pushing our bodies in other ways–the risk of these things has multiplied many times over in recent weeks. As we have seen, even the most healthy individuals have fallen to the coronavirus. Thankfully however, pain is one area of these trials, which the individual should feel empowered to tackle themselves, because there is no cure for pain. And if you follow the above suggestions, and ask yourself those questions, you should be well-equipped to manage your pain from the comfort of your own home.

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