A chronic health condition is defined as an illness that is unlikely to be totally cured and may lead to health gradually getting worse. These can be life-altering challenges that require a range of treatments, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and, a lot of mental resilience.
This article explores managing chronic health conditions. For those on a journey with chronic issues seeking and finding the right professional advice can be profoundly helpful. While Dr Google and the internet may offer some concepts, not everything you read is true. Seek qualified help.
Common chronic conditions in Australia
These conditions are common and often chronic. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to help yourself, and there are support services.
- Coronary heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Doctors and GP’s
The ideal situation for any patient is to have a long-term doctor that understands your condition and health history. If you do not have a long-term GP, it can help to ask your social network or pharmacist for trusted referrals to find one.
Chronic conditions may require a suite of expertise, and that means you may need a healthcare team. Typically this can include pharmacists, general practitioners, specialists, counsellors or physiotherapists. They are most likely to seek each other out, but if they don’t, you can directly encourage them to work together to share information about your health.
You should expect your lead doctor or specialist to develop a health management plan. It should be somewhat collaborative as you need to be taken through your options. For it to be effective you need to agree with the plan. It should include a list of what you and your healthcare team all need to do to manage your condition.
Lifestyle choices affect everyone, and if you suffer from a chronic health condition, there may be added pressure to live a healthy lifestyle. This is likely to be part of your management plan and may include a good diet, maintaining physical and social activity as best you can given your conditions, maintaining a healthy weight and minimising alcohol.
If you have a chronic health condition, it is very important that you have the correct medication. It is also important that you understand what they are because medication over a long period of time may have side-effects and consequences. If you have a long-term GP and healthcare team, they will have oversight over your medication. If you don’t have a long-term support team, having a doctor review your medication each year to make sure they are still appropriate will help.
Support For Chronic Health Conditions
There is a wide range of additional resources that you can and should draw on for support. These include support groups, support services and, self-management programs.
Emotional and mental support is just as important in managing chronic health as medical treatments. There are online and meetup support groups that can be comforting and inspiring to connect with. Many organisations have related support groups and can give you information about how to get in touch:
- Diabetes Australia here.
- Osteoporosis Australia here.
- Arthritis Australia here.
- Heart Foundation here.
- Stroke Foundation here.
- Dementia Australia here.
Chronic health challenges can often cause stress leading to anxiety and depression. If you’re reading this article and concerned about your own feelings of anxiety and depression it is important to understand that this is a normal feeling and that you can, and should, reach out for some help. We encourage you to contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for immediate support. You can also ask your local pharmacy team.
Australia has a strong healthcare system from hospitals, medical centres, pharmacies and more. You should draw on all and any of these resources for help.
Written by Nathan C.
Nathan is passionate about fitness, including researching and writing about it.
All articles are provided as general information and are not intended, nor may it be construed, as medical advice or instruction. Information and opinions expressed are believed to be correct and accurate to the best knowledge and judgement of the authors. Readers should consult their appropriately qualified health care professional prior to taking any action or inaction.