Published by Claudia Giunta.
Did you know chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States? Six in ten adults will have a chronic disease, and four in ten adults will have two or more. Health-damaging risks such as smoking tobacco, eating poorly, drinking alcohol, and not exercising can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, chronic lung cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more.
While historically, the impact and characteristics of chronic diseases have been labeled as intimidating, access to proactive health care is growing tremendously. Everyday habits can help you reduce the risk of having a chronic disease. Adjustments to your daily schedule don’t have to be major; small, conscious choices can be implemented to prevent chronic disease and improve overall health. Whether you are already diagnosed with a chronic illness or want to learn how to avert a diagnosis, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on managing and preventing chronic disease.
The National Cancer Institute defines a chronic disease as a disease or condition that lasts for three months or longer, is long-lasting in its effects, and worsens over time. While these diseases have no cure, they can be controlled to alleviate severe symptoms. Having a chronic illness may change how you live, view yourself, and relate to others— all of which are additional stressors on top of the disease symptoms. Adjusting to the demands of the illness and the therapy used to treat it may also be a difficult transition.
Chronic diseases can be a significant economic burden because of the combined effects of healthcare costs and productivity losses from the illness. Prevention and management are vital to reducing these hardships and improving health outcomes.
Examples of Chronic Diseases
While many illnesses can be considered chronic, these 12 major chronic conditions are a significant concern in terms of morbidity and mortality:
While each chronic illness will have its unique symptoms, all are mainly characterized by the following:
Most chronic diseases require treatment but are generally not entirely cured. While some conditions, such as heart disease, can be life-threatening, others may only require intensive management, such as diabetes. While the symptoms of certain chronic diseases may always be present throughout a person's life, the severe risk factors can be reduced when properly managed.
Many people with chronic conditions don’t just have a single predominant condition but may also experience multimorbidity, the co-occurrence of two or more chronic conditions. Recognition of multimorbidity requires that all diseases and conditions be treated concurrently without a hierarchical order. Multimorbidity requires a holistic approach that puts the patient at the center of the treatment plan.
Risk behaviors can cause many chronic diseases, but these four steps can help prevent the onset of a chronic condition. It’s important to note that these healthy lifestyle choices should also be implemented to help manage a chronic illness.
These four healthy lifestyle behaviors can help improve longevity and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Talk to your doctor about additional steps necessary for chronic disease prevention and ways to improve your overall health.
Adapting to a new normal after being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be off-putting and overwhelming. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or therapy treatments to manage your condition, and taking the initiative to make other healthy lifestyle choices is vital.
The key to taking control of managing your condition is to become your own advocate. Here are our tips for managing and balancing the emotional and lifestyle stressors that come with a chronic condition:
Become an expert on your condition.
The more you know about your condition, the more you can learn how to manage it. Familiarize yourself with common medical terms and the organs affected by your disease. You are in total control of your health, so don’t be apprehensive to ask your doctor for more information, a simpler explanation, or even a second opinion.
Look into your treatment options, different medications, and necessary diet changes, and have an open conversation with your doctor about what is right for you. The knowledge you’ve gained from your research will help you gain peace of mind and a better understanding of your condition.
It’s essential to be well-versed in your medical treatment plan. Familiarizing yourself with the names and dosages of your medications is crucial for emergencies and managing your daily health.
You can also enroll in a Self-Management Education (SME) program that helps you learn about goal-setting and self-monitoring to improve your health and self-manage your chronic condition.
Take care of your mental health.
Heightened emotions and fear of the unknown are typical consequences of having a chronic illness. Keeping your stress in check will strengthen your physical and emotional well-being. Remember that millions of people around the globe live with your condition and that taking proactive measures improves the likelihood of a long and healthy life.
Aside from staying physically active, other ways to manage stress include guided meditations, aromatherapy, and the right music to lift your mood and strengthen your confidence. Expressing yourself (your pains, frustrations, and hopes) creatively through writing, poetry, and painting can also be an empowering tool to brighten your emotional outlook.
Ask for support.
It can be easy to assume the worst, so talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have to lower the risk of future complications. A primary care physician who knows you and your health condition inside and out will help your doctor establish personalized healthcare recommendations. Developing a strong relationship with your doctor will help you trust that your health is manageable.
Your doctor doesn’t have to be the only person you lean on. After a diagnosis, it can help to have a trusted friend or loved one to talk to about your emotions. Receiving support and encouragement throughout your health journey will help you stay motivated and know that you are not alone. Other resources for support include talk therapy, churches, community centers, and organized groups affiliated with your condition.
Take small steps toward better habits.
Upon diagnosis, you may fear the major and necessary life changes that best manage your condition. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by practicing healthy habits step-by-step. Set realistic goals, start slowly, and remain consistent. Lifestyle changes can help keep your condition under control, reduce symptoms, and improve your mood. Shift your focus from what you cannot change to what you can and live the healthiest life.
Living with a chronic condition is challenging and requires proper medication and treatment. Your doctor may recommend a combination of therapies (talk, physical, thermotherapy, and other innovative non-pharmacological therapies).
At Nova Vita Wellness Centers, we understand that a comprehensive approach to your well-being will help you manage your condition. Our medical experts work with each patient to understand their health needs and develop a personalized treatment plan accordingly.
Our vitamin and mineral infusions can support chronic illness symptoms and medications, offering relief and even reducing the amount of medication needed over time by improving lab values. Our 3D body scanner has the ability to track progress and alerts each patient on their risk levels for certain chronic diseases based on the WHO-approved Waist-To-Hip ratio (WHR). Our compression therapy can help reduce inflammation caused by chronic illnesses by applying pressure to targeted areas. With improved blood flow and reduced swelling, your pain can be minimized and allow for increased activity levels.
We also offer other non-pharmacological therapies, including Bioidentical hormone therapy, ozone therapy, and weight management, all of which help maintain your physical and mental health.
A chronic illness shouldn’t mean you have to deal with your symptoms alone. Contact us today for a FREE wellness evaluation and let us play a role in managing your chronic illness.