Coping with Many Chronic Health Conditions


What are chronic diseases?

Chronic diseases are illnesses that you can’t catch and that last along time, do not get better suddenly, and are rarely cured completely.Examples of chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer,stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. Although chronic diseases are more common among older adults, they affect people of all ages.Many chronic diseases share the same risk factors. (See Understanding Risk Factors on page 4 for more information).For example, smoking can contribute to heart disease, diabetes,and stroke. If you can get rid of a risk factor — by quitting smoking, for example — then you can generally lower your chances of developing many chronic diseases.

Dealing with more than one chronic disease
Having more than one chronic disease at a time is called having“multiple chronic conditions,” or MCC. If you have MCC, you maybe stressed just keeping up with your doctor visits. You likely need to see different specialists for your many issues. You may get confused by the different instructions and medications you get from each doctor. Also, it can cost a lot of money to have MCC, because you may need to take several prescription medications.Costs can add up quickly.

Steps you can take:
• Take notes when you visit each doctor, so you remember
important instructions
• Ask your doctor’s office to send a letter after each visit to
your other doctor(s), so everyone is up to date on your
health care
• Use an organizer to sort your medication so you take the
right medicines each day.

Preventing chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are the most common and cost the most
of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable.
Much of the illness, disability, and early death related
to chronic diseases are caused by one of four things:
Tobacco use 
Lack of physical activity 
Poor eating habits 
Too much alcohol use 
By making some changes in your lifestyle — like quitting
smoking, getting more exercise, eating better, and drinking
less alcohol — you can prevent many chronic conditions.
If you already have more than one chronic condition, making
these changes may help you to feel better and prevent
more health problems.


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