How can I help myself when I have JIA?
The first thing you can do to help yourself is to find out as much as you can about your condition so that you know what to expect and how it could affect you in the future.
Another really important thing you can do to help yourself is to improve your general health. You can do this by:
- eating healthily
- getting lots of exercise
- getting enough sleep
- not smoking
- avoiding illegal drugs and too much alcohol.
Exercise is important for general fitness, protects against osteoporosis and helps you to relax. Weight-bearing exercise (such as walking) will help prevent osteoporosis and keep you fit. Try to set aside 15–20 minutes each day to work out. This doesn’t need to be too energetic but you should check that each joint in your neck, spine, arms and legs moves fully. As your arthritis becomes controlled and your general fitness improves you can make the exercises a bit harder.
Your diet is very important when you’re growing up as it keeps you healthy and makes your bones strong. It’s important to take steps when you’re young to help prevent osteoporosis in the future. Eating plenty of dairy products (for example milk, cheese and yoghurt) will help. Generally speaking, you should aim for a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and a high fibre content, avoiding too much fat.