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Coping With an Acute Illness: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Finding out that you have a sudden (acute) illness can be very hard. Getting sick can be scary. It can also disrupt your life.

The most important thing is to deal with the illness and get healthy again. If work, school, or other activities have to be put on hold while you get treatment, that is okay. Do what you have to do to get better, and then you can focus on the rest of your life.

Some acute illnesses can become chronic, which means that they last for a long time. Although this may not happen with you, it is best to be prepared for this and to know how to handle it. Talk to your doctor to find out as much as you can about the illness and how best to treat it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Treating the illness

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can use an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medicines you take. These medicines can cause problems when taken with other medicines.
  • Keep in touch with your doctor. The more informed you keep your doctor, the better he or she will be able to care for you.
  • Get plenty of rest. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping because of pain.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Talk with your doctor about what type of diet may be best.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking or being around smoke can make the condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Keeping your life in order

Here are some tips on how to keep your life on track while you get better.

  • Talk with your provincial health plan or private insurance provider to make sure treatments are covered.
  • Make sure your employer knows about the illness. Get work commitments taken care of or postponed. This will give you the time and energy you need to treat the illness.
  • Keep your employer informed about when you will be able to return.
  • Ask for help from friends and family to keep your home in order. Keep your surroundings clean and in good shape to help reduce stress. Get help so you can save your energy for treating the illness.

Questions to ask

  • Can the illness be cured? Can the illness become long-lasting (chronic)?
  • How will my lifestyle change once the illness is gone?
  • Does the illness run in families?
  • What types of treatment are available? Which treatment has the best success rate?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • What are the best and worst possible results of the treatment?

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.