What are chronic conditions?
The term chronic conditions are used to describe a broad range of health conditions, including:
- chronic and complex health conditions
- mental illness
- genetic disorders
More than 50% of Australians live with some form of a chronic condition which can lasts for one year or more, requiring ongoing medical care and can restrict the daily activities or quality of life.
Chronic conditions may include one or more of the following:
- have complex and multiple causes
- may occur as a single condition in a person, or along with other diseases (comorbidity)
- usually progress gradually
- can occur at any age, although they are more common as people get older
- can affect quality of life
- can create limitations and disability
- are not usually immediately life-threatening, but can shorten life expectancy
People with chronic conditions are now living longer because of better treatments and management plans.
Why are chronic conditions so important?
Chronic conditions are very common and half of all Australians have at least 1 of the 8 major chronic conditions that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare regularly reports on. These include the following
- Back pain
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Mental health conditions
Many chronic conditions are not life threatening in the short term. However, they can worsen over time and become more serious. Chronic conditions can lower your quality of life and may affect your independence.
How to prevent chronic conditions?
Some chronic conditions are not preventable because they are genetic or the cause is unknown. Examples include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis.
Other chronic conditions can sometimes develop due to risk factors that people can control. Examples include type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, some lung diseases and stroke.
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing a preventable chronic condition to include:
- quitting smoking
- regular physical activity
- reducing your alcohol intake
- maintaining well balanced diet
- maintaining a healthy weight
- maintaining healthy blood pressure
- having good cholesterol levels.
How to diagnose chronic conditions?
At Infinity Health Medical Centre, your doctor can help you if you have some problems or symptoms that worry you. Your doctor can order the following diagnostic tests to understand what is wrong.
Your doctor might refer you to a specialist if they:
- can’t diagnose your problem
- have diagnosed a condition, but think you may need further assistance
The type of specialist you need to see will depend on your symptoms and diagnosis.
How do I treat my chronic condition?
It is important to learn about your condition which will help you take control of your health, and will allow you to choose treatments that suit you. You can take an active role in managing your condition by consulting your team of health care providers, asking the right questions and seeking guidance on treatments available.
Although people living with chronic condition will need to manage it long term, however, treating the symptoms of your chronic condition can improve the quality of your life.
You can manage by chronic condition by:
- making regular visits to your general practitioner or specialist
- having a healthy lifestyle which include eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep
- taking your prescribed medicines
- following your management plan, if you have one.
Do I need a Chronic Disease Management plan?
Medicare funds Chronic Diseases Management (CDM) plans. These plans help people who need a structured approach to managing their chronic disease, including ongoing care from a team of health care providers and professionals. Speak to your general practitioner (GP) at Infinity Health to see if you need a CDM plan. This lists what you both need to do to manage your chronic condition. It is agreed on between you and your doctor.
See more information about treating and managing chronic diseases:
See chronic conditions contacts for a list of organisations, websites and services that offer support and information about chronic conditions.