According to the National Health Council, approximately 133 million Americans (more than 40% of the total population) live with chronic disease. If you’re one of them, you likely understand the impact chronic disease has on anyone’s life. The diagnosis and lifestyle changes required to maintain your health can seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, there’s some good news for anyone living with chronic disease: you don’t have to do it alone. Experienced health professionals will help you learn to manage your condition and get back on track to living a healthy life. Perhaps the most valuable lesson you can learn from your doctors is how to take better care of yourself and take charge of your health through specific habits. Let’s take a closer look at what kinds of chronic disease management you can do for yourself through a few lifestyle changes.
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An Overview of Chronic Disease Management
Chronic disease can be understood as a recurring health problem that treatments can keep under control but never fully cure. While management programs differ between patients, most doctors will follow a three-step process:
- Diagnosis: determine if you have a chronic condition and if so, what it is.
- Check-ups: periodic doctor visits to monitor your condition and catch any concerning developments.
- Treatment: ongoing preventive measures that may include medication, diet changes, and more.
How to Take Control
If you’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic condition, the first thing to remember is that your health is in your own hands. The choices you make affect how severe your symptoms will be as well as your future health and quality of life.
Your first step should be to visit your doctor and undergo different medical tests to determine your diagnosis. Once both you and your doctor understand your health problems, you can focus on finding a long-term solution together. Remember, your doctor is just as interested in improving your health as you are! Be your own advocate throughout the process and keep your doctor informed of what works and what doesn’t. By working closely with a healthcare professional, you can focus on keeping your condition under control.
Focus on Preventive Health
Your doctor will give you specific instructions or ideas to guide your new lifestyle and habits. There are also several steps you can take on your own for preventive health:
- Self-care: Good mental health and relaxation are essential to treating physical ailments. Establish a daily self-care routine and stick to it.
- Find support: Find a person or group of people to hold you accountable to make the right decisions and help you get healthy.
- Healthy foods: Nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods are best for virtually everyone, but even more so when you’re dealing with chronic disease. Pay close attention to what you eat and how much.
- Stay on track: If you miss a dose of your prescription or forget to exercise one day, it likely won’t derail your health efforts. But consistently making the same mistakes will.
- Be proactive about doctor visits: Don’t wait for an emergency before you call your primary care physician. Visit your doctor regularly and watch your health closely.
Pro Tip: Be honest with your doctor about your medical history, diet, and how closely you’ve been following the prescribed health regimen. They can’t help you if you give them false or incomplete information.
Take Responsibility for Your Health
With the help of a knowledgeable doctor, chronic disease management can become just an ordinary part of your life. But real progress is ultimately up to you. It’s your responsibility to implement changes the doctor recommends and visit for check-ups and preventive healthcare. It’s time to focus on improving your own health through new habits and chronic disease self-management.
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