What is a Chronic Disease?
A chronic disease lasts for at least three months or more. The majority of these diseases cannot be prevented through vaccinations or cured without proper treatment and can be brought about by damaging habits, such as using tobacco, being inactive, or maintaining a poor diet. While chronic diseases most often appear as we age, that doesn't mean these conditions don’t affect younger people as well.
Some of the most common chronic diseases include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Oral health problems
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Routine exercise is one easy way to ease arthritis pain, improve flexibility, and build stronger joints and muscles. While arthritis may seem like something that only happens to us as we age, about one in every 1,000 children will develop juvenile arthritis. If you suspect that someone in your family has arthritis, your family doctor can help diagnose and manage these symptoms.
Cancer is another life-threatening condition that doesn’t discriminate whom it affects. Breast cancer, lymphoma, prostate cancer, and melanoma are some of the most common cancers in young adults and adults, but according to the American Cancer Society, leukemias account for about 30 percent of childhood cancers.
While your family doctor may not be able to provide the proper treatment for your cancer on their own, they will work with other medical specialists to create a treatment plan that may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Also, about one in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy over the course of their life. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disease that affects how the electrical signals in the brain fire. These misfires can, in turn, cause seizures.
Epilepsy can affect people of any age. Fortunately, about two-thirds of children with epilepsy will outgrow it by the time they are teenagers. If a member of your family is dealing with seizures, your family physician can help. There are medications available that can greatly reduce the number of seizures they experience.
Obesity has become of the most serious health issues plaguing the United States with childhood obesity more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. A lack of exercise coupled with fast food has caused children, teens, and adults to be less healthy than ever. These poor choices can lead to long-term health issues, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Fortunately, your family physician can help provide advice on better eating habits and ways to increase physical activity for any patient’s age or limitations.
Your family physician is here to ensure that you and your family remain healthy and free of chronic diseases that could impact your life for the long term.
Treatment Of Chronic Disease FAQ
What are the biggest risk factors for chronic diseases?
- Family history and genetics
- Eating an unhealthy, poor diet
- A sedentary lifestyle (no exercise, sitting for long periods)
- Overconsumption of alcohol
Can a chronic disease be cured?
No, it typically cannot. A chronic disease, by its definition, means it is an ongoing and often lifetime condition. Most chronic diseases and conditions focus on management to reduce symptoms, enhance quality of life, and improve overall health.
How are chronic diseases treated?
Most treatments for chronic diseases focus on condition management, including regular checkups, health screenings and testing, health monitoring, patient education, and living a healthier lifestyle. This provides for early diagnosis and treatment of potential health issues in addition to optimizing treatment outcomes.
What are ways to reduce chronic disease risks?
In addition to regular health screenings and checkups, you can do a few simple things to reduce risks related to chronic disease and improve overall health, including:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Reducing refined sugars in the diet
- Moderating alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking or using tobacco products
- Drinking plenty of water
- Understanding your family medical history for risks
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing stress-reduction methods (mindfulness, meditation, counseling, etc.)