If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, you probably have a lot of questions and thoughts on your mind. From the changes that you’ll need to make in your routine to shuffling around your schedule for the extra appointments, a chronic illness permeates literally every part of your life. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to efficiently manage your chronic illness and minimize its effects on you, your loved ones, your career, your hobbies, and all the other parts of life that you enjoy.
In this post, we’ll discuss what a chronic illness is, list some common chronic illnesses, and go over steps you can take to live healthy and well with a chronic illness.
What is a Chronic Illness?
A chronic illness is a health condition that lasts longer than one year, affects your daily life or activities, and/or requires some type of ongoing healthcare intervention. Chronic illnesses are the main causes of death in the U.S. and contribute heavily to soaring healthcare costs.
Common Chronic Illnesses
Some of the most common chronic illnesses in the U.S. include:
- Heart Disease
- Lung Disease
- Kidney Disease
Living Well With a Chronic Illness
Even though a chronic illness diagnosis does mean changes are coming, with a little planning, those changes can be very manageable. Millions of people live active, fulfilling lives with chronic illnesses, and you can too! Find below a few of our top recommendations for living your best life with a chronic illness:
Participate in Disease Management
One of the best things you can do to live well with a chronic illness is to participate in a disease management program. Many physicians offer disease management for patients living with long-term conditions, from primary care doctors to specialists. In Tampa Bay, Dr. Kavita Rao and her team offer comprehensive disease management services for all her patients diagnosed with chronic illness.
- What is Disease Management?
Disease management is a concept of health care that seeks to improve patient quality of life while reducing overall costs by coordinating care and taking the patient’s entire health history and status into consideration. This approach to care can also slow the progression of some chronic illnesses by identifying and treating chronic illnesses early in defined populations. Disease management programs focus heavily on self-care initiatives, patient education, and communication between providers.
Learning as much as you possibly can about the chronic condition you’ve been diagnosed with is essential if you want to mitigate the effects the condition has on your life. Educating yourself will help you identify symptoms and complications early, allowing you time to get appropriate medical care and start treatments earlier, leading to better outcomes.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Some of the easiest things you can do to better manage your chronic illness are to make small, healthy living changes in your everyday routine. Little things like eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising for 15 minutes per day, or taking the stairs to your office instead of the elevator are all great ways to improve your health and reduce the effects of chronic illness. It takes 21 days to make a change in your routine, so aim to add one new healthy behavior to your routine each month.
Find a Support Network
Being able to share your experiences about your chronic illness and learn from the experience of others with the same illness can be very therapeutic and help you get the best care possible. Close friends and family can be great ears to listen to your struggles and offer sympathy. Support groups, whether in-person or online, are great tools for people who don’t have close family and friends or just don’t feel comfortable talking about their illnesses with them. No matter who you choose to share with, try not to deal with chronic illness alone to avoid feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Chronic Disease Management in Tampa Bay
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness and aren’t sure what to do next, let Dr. Kavita Rao and her team help guide you through managing your chronic illness. Call us at 727-525-0900 or contact us online to schedule your disease management consultation today.