A chronic illness is one that is ongoing versus an acute illness which doesn’t last very long, typically less than 12 weeks. An example of a chronic illness is diabetes or asthma whereas pneumonia would be an example of an acute illness. Acute illnesses may lead to a chronic condition if left untreated1.
Whether your condition is chronic or acute, it is important that you take care of your body to prevent further illness or complications. Self-management means that you are taking responsibility for your health such as taking your medications as prescribed, monitoring your vital signs such as weight or blood pressure, and making good lifestyle choices like being active and eating a healthy diet. According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, individuals who do not feel capable of managing their own health are more likely to develop a new chronic disease over a 3-year period when compared to individuals with good self-management skills2.
Your health care provider may make recommendations to help improve or maintain your condition. It’s up to you to follow them when in between your provider visits. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your condition3:
- Be active- get at least 30 min of physical activity each day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet: make sure to get the colors of the rainbow, lean proteins and whole grains.
- Take your medications as prescribed- this includes over-the counter and prescription medications as recommended by your provider.
- Keep all scheduled provider appointments and new appointments for worsening symptoms.
- Complete your preventive screenings, exams and immunizations as recommended.
- Know your condition triggers- avoid activities, environments, or foods that can make you feel worse.
- Self-monitor your vital signs and blood values- if you are a diabetic or prediabetic it may be important for you to check your glucose in between visits with your provider. It is also important to keep track of your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight at least once a week.
Remember to take control of your health and don’t let your condition take control of you!
Content contributor: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services