It’s not always easy to interpret symptoms
Foot pain, fatigue and eye problems ... We often get to hear that it’s difficult to know which symptoms belong to the rheumatic disease, and which could be something completely different. Understanding and interpreting what is what, can be a big challenge when living life with a rheumatic diagnosis.
My elbow hurts. It hasn’t done that before. Or, is this feeling a little familiar? Although, maybe it was the other arm? Is this some new, rheumatic symptom? Or is it simply due to yesterday's cleaning of the storage room?
Perhaps you recognize these lines of thoughts and the uncertainty that creeps in. If so, you are not alone. When we talk to our users, this is a theme that often comes up.
How can one really know what is, in some way, caused by the rheumatic disease, and what are ailments that appear for completely different reasons? And of course, it becomes even more complex if you have one or more additional diagnoses.
Map your symptoms
A first step to getting a better handle on what is what, is to map out the various symptoms that you notice. In the Elsa app, it is possible to log tenderness/swelling, pain, fatigue and other symptoms. We've also recently added logging of morning stiffness, and in addition, you can also add your own logging of anything you feel you need to keep track of.
Then, what is reasonable to log? Of course, you choose entirely yourself what you want to include in your personal logging. As a benchmark, we recommend you include new problems that appear—to keep an eye on them and to be able to find out what they are correlated with.
Other symptoms that you suspect are related to your rheumatic diagnosis or medication are also good to chart, regardless of what they are. Maybe you have a wound that won't heal, or dry eyes that irritate you. If, however, you know that your eye problems are due to hay fever, there is no major reason to log this in Elsa.
You have a lot to gain!
Logging gives you and your doctor a very good basis for assessing your problems. In this way, you create a unique little database, and together you can review what problems you’ve had and perhaps still have, how they came and went, and how they were affected by your medicines.
In turn, this makes it easier for the doctor to actually find the treatment that is best suited for you.
Another advantage of mapping your symptoms is that, over time, you increase the possibility of discovering if a flare-up is underway, and can get the right help in time. This also improves the chance that the flare-up can be alleviated, both in terms of how long it lasts and how intense it becomes.
And that pain in the elbow? If your doctor makes the assessment that it has nothing to do with your rheumatic diagnosis, make sure you still know where to turn for help.