Chronic conditions are challenging. And keeping them in check can be difficult without the proper resources or support.
Not only are they challenging, but they can:
- Be costly
- Interfere with daily life
- Cause painful complications or disabilities
People who have a chronic illness deal with far more than just the illness itself. As a result, they need support. Keep reading to learn more about how you can live your best life while living with chronic illness.
What Is the Definition of a Chronic Illness?
The Centers for Disease Control defines a chronic illness as a condition that:
- Lasts one year or more
- Requires ongoing medical attention
- Limits activities of daily living or both
What Are Chronic Illness Characteristics?
Generally, chronic illnesses share the same characteristics. They:
- Have complex causes
- Involve many risk factors
- Have both a long duration and long latency periods (time between the onset of the illness and feeling its effects)
- Cause functional impairment or disability
Can Physicians Cure a Chronic Illness?
Not completely. Most chronic illnesses require treatment and do not fix themselves. Some, like heart disease and stroke, can be immediately life-threatening while others, like diabetes, linger, and require intensive management.
Conversely, chronic illnesses like arthritis persist throughout a person’s life but are not always the cause of death.
What Causes Chronic Illness?
The causes of most chronic illnesses can be distilled down into a shortlist of behaviors.
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive alcohol use
- Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Lack of physical activity
What Are Examples of Chronic Illness?
The medical industry labels many illnesses as chronic. However, there are 12 primary chronic conditions.
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Oral disease
- Chronic kidney disease
What Are Some Impacts of a Chronic Illness?
Aside from the symptoms directly associated with the illness, chronic illnesses can bring a whole of other problems with them. So, if you have a chronic illness, you may experience:
- Invisible symptoms such as:
- Physical changes that can impact your:
- Social life
- A change in your ability to be productive in your work, which can lead to financial problems
How Do I Manage My Chronic Illness?
Because the illness is long-term, you will need to adjust your life. If you suffer from a chronic illness, the most important things you can do for yourself include:
- Making regular doctor visits
- Understanding your condition
- Following a treatment plan
- Having a support system
- Monitoring your condition
- Understanding warning signs for potential complications
In addition, you may need to:
- Deal with the treatments
- Know how to control your symptoms
- Clearly communicate with doctors
- Have practices that support your emotional balance and cope with negative feelings
- Know about the treatment and therapy
- Maintain confidence and a positive self-image, a strong support network and social relationships, and trust and confidence in your doctors, especially when recovery isn’t possible
- Avoid social isolation
How Does a Chronic Illness Differ From an Acute Illness?
When you have an acute illness such as bronchitis or the flu, you know that you will feel better within a short period. A chronic illness is different. When you have a chronic illness, you don’t know when or if it will ever go away.
How Can I Make My Life Better?
Firstly, seek help immediately. As soon as you feel like life is unmanageable, your mood is swinging on a downward spiral, or you are not able to cope, reach out to your healthcare provider for assistance.
Also, they may refer you to a mental health provider or another specialist who can offer you the support services that you need.
For instance, taking action early will help you understand and deal with the effects of a chronic illness. Learning how to manage stress can help you to maintain a positive emotional, physical, and spiritual outlook on life. Regaining a sense of control can improve your quality of life.
When Should I Get Help?
Remember, the direct symptoms of the illness don’t just impact you; it affects your whole life. For example, you may be experiencing uncertainty about the future, physical disability, and financial difficulties, which will bring their own set of symptoms.
Therefore, if you are struggling with any of the following, seek help immediately.
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Disturbed sleep
- Body aches
- Cognitive issues
- Difficulty in relationships
Where Can I Find Help?
There is a range of ways to deal with the stress brought on by living with a chronic illness.
- Finding information that will help you better understand your specific condition
- Emotional support from family and friends
- Joining a well-established support group
- Setting concrete, short-term goals
- Considering possible outcomes
- Working with an individual counselor
- Participating in couple’s or family counseling
We Are Here for You
At OneLife Medical Center, we dedicate time and expertise to give our patients the best of the best for chronic condition care.
Most importantly, if you have struggled with finding a primary care provider that has the time and expertise to support you, OneLife Medical can help.
Lastly, let us be your partner in effectively managing your illness. Reach out today! We can help you by:
- Diagnosing conditions
- Recommending treatments
- Prescribing appropriate therapies