Living and Coping with Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions are normally characterised by factors such as complex causes, risk factors, long latency periods, functional impairments or disabilities.

Most don’t usually fix themselves and normally can’t be cured completely. Some can be life-threatening instantaneously like heart disease and strokes. Many can linger on over some time and require constant management to keep them at bay, like diabetes or cystic fibrosis.

What are Some of the Most Common Chronic Health Conditions?

These long-term health conditions can be both mental and physical and require ongoing medical care, impacting daily life.

Some common chronic conditions include:

  1. Alzheimer’s and dementia: A condition that slowly deteriorates the brain over time and impacts memory and cognitive thinking skills.

  2. Arthritis:  This condition causes swelling of the joints which leads to severe pain and stiffness.
  3. Osteoarthritis: The protective cartilage that cushions bones begins to wear down, leaving bones more susceptible to damage.
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis:  The immune systems attack health cells leaving joints to become inflamed.
  5. Asthma: Severe coughing and wheezing caused by the narrowing of airways.
  6. Bipolar Disorder: A mental health disorder that causes mood swings of emotional highs and lows.
  7. COPD(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease): This condition blocks airflow which makes breathing a difficult task.
  8. Depression: A common mental health disorder that creates persistent feelings of sadness, fatigue, and loss of interest in things we used to enjoy.
  9. Diabetes: Your blood contains too much glucose (also known as blood sugar) and must be monitored.
  10. Heart Disease: Various heart-related conditions such as heart attacks.

Living with Chronic Health Conditions

With how painful and debilitating these chronic conditions can be, it comes as

no shock that those suffering are more likely to suffer from depression.  This can lead to the condition taking a nasty turn, with the possibility of the person neglecting their treatments and self-care routines like diet and exercise.

The way in which people react to a chronic health condition will vary dramatically from person to person. Some will sadly give up on any hope and some show a strong determination to do all they can to improve their health.

Maintaining Your Health with a Chronic Health Condition

Looking after your health will be an important part of living with a long-term illness. You can maintain your health by living a healthy lifestyle and keeping a positive mindset.

  • Research the disease and ensure that the information you find on the disease will lead you in a positive direction and will leave you feeling that you have regained control.
  • Short-term goals will give you something to strive towards and allow you to understand how much progress you are making.
  • Making sense of your specific medication, what it’s for, and any potential side effects it may have could make you feel better about taking it.
  • Develop skills to manage your pain and fatigue such as;
    • Physical therapies such as stretching, walking and various exercises can reduce pain depending on the condition.
    • Stress management through meditation and yoga.
    • Cognitive behaviour therapy can help you with how you think and can change your mindset to a positive one.
    • Massages are a great way of relieving soft tissue pain but avoid if the pain starts in the joints.
    • Acupuncture is thin needles that are inserted at certain points of the skin to encourage the body’s self-healing and help release endorphins (the body’s natural pain relief.

  • Emotional Support: Speaking to others who are going through something like you, speak to family and friends for support. Looking after your mental health is very important:
    • Information on your condition and its likely outcomes may give you a feeling of control over the situation.
    • Reach out to your friends, join a support group or even find help in the form of a psychologist. They may help you have a better understanding of your circumstances.
    • Focus on various things every single day; daily errands, reading, recreational walks, watching a movie or even doing puzzles are great ways of taking your mind off things.
    • Keep a diary, noting down concerns and thoughts when you feel your mental health is beginning to take a dip.

Lifestyle Decisions

Eating well, doing as much physical activity as you can, and getting plenty of rest will ensure that you are feeling the best you can when suffering with chronic conditions.

Healthy Diets are Vital

  • Reduce three meals a day to small portions of food and eat them more often.
  • Make sure to pick nutritious options that you will enjoy.
  • Try your best to avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar, salt, and fat.
  • Make the people in your life aware of your needs so they can show support.

Sleep is Important

It is important to remember that sleep is an important part of our everyday health and employing practices to get the best possible amount of rest at nighttime is a good way of a healthy lifestyle.

  • When exercising, make sure you do it during the day, so you are more likely to be tired later on.
  • Do not drink coffee, tea or any beverage with caffeine contents close to bedtime.
  • If you can, try not to nap during the day.

Improving Homes to Help with Chronic Health Conditions

Living in a cold environment can impact our health and the chronic health conditions we may already have. These living conditions can be caused by things like expensive energy bills, damp in the property, and even poor insulation.

Is There Any Help Available?

There are a number of ways that those living with a chronic health condition can gain access to help that will improve the warmth of their homes, making it more comfortable living with their condition.

ECO4: The Energy Company Obligation is a scheme backed by the government, obligating the big energy companies to provide home energy upgrades for those customers who are eligible.

With the scheme, consumers can receive upgrades like an air source heat pump and solar panels. Insulation can also be upgraded to retain the heat within properties.

Boiler Upgrade Scheme: This voucher scheme can give you up to £7,500 towards a boiler upgrade. The upgrade in question would see you receive a renewable air source heat pump that takes in heat from the outside air and turns it into heat for the home via radiators.

Great British Insulation Scheme: If your home has poor insulation or none at all, this scheme can provide you with the right insulation method for you, keeping the heat you generate in your home where it needs to be.

Health Conditions Worsened by a Cold Home
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