Chronic diseases are those illnesses that last a year or more and need on-going medical attention. Treating chronic diseases can be quite expensive, as it is a continuous process and is one of the major causes of hospitalisation, disability and death in Australia.
To make matters worse, it has been found that, most people don’t suffer with just one chronic disease, but have to go through life suffering with multiple diseases.
Some of the major factors contributing to increased chronic diseases have been found to be:
- Increased use of tobacco, and increased smoking.
- Increased use of alcohol.
- Poor eating habits and poor nutrition.
- Insufficient or no physical activity.
These causes have been attributed to the drastically changing lifestyles of Australians, as well as an ageing population. Many chronic diseases have common causes, which can be changed to prevent and manage chronic diseases. Lifestyle and behavioural changes are key to preventing increased numbers of patients with chronic diseases.
There are several chronic diseases which are common among Australians. These include:
- Musculoskeletal conditions – Arthritis or Osteoporosis.
- Respiratory diseases – Asthma.
- Back pain.
- Cancer – especially skin cancer.
- Cardiovascular diseases.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Mental health conditions.
Diabetes is one of the most common types of chronic disease facing Australians, and the number of people affected by it is growing day by day. The basic method of treating all types of Diabetes is to keep the patient’s blood glucose levels controlled and within an accepted range. Diabetes can cause many other health complications as well.
In Australia, mental health conditions such as depression are recognised as a chronic disease, and in most cases are linked to other diseases such as Diabetes or obesity. If you think you are suffering from a mental health issue, it is best to speak to a doctor and get help immediately. There are many clinics that provide specialised services in mental health in Mt. Gravatt and other areas in the country, and you can easily consult a GP at a clinic close to your home.
Cancer, especially skin cancer, is also a huge risk factor for Australians due to the increased exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In the case of cancer, early detection is key. You can easily get a skin cancer check in Mt Gravatt clinics or any other clinic closer to you, to see if you are at risk of getting skin cancer.
Due to the increased risk of chronic diseases, many medical professionals are promoting the “prevention is better than cure” tactic and making people more aware of the risks involved with getting chronic diseases and the many precautionary methods available to prevent them. These include:
- Stop smoking – Smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke has been the biggest cause of respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, and doctors recommend complete stoppage of smoking in order to prevent chronic diseases caused by it.
- Healthy eating – Eating healthy is very important to preventing many diseases. Including more fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grain and low fat dairy products in your diet is vital. Even more important is to abstain from eating excessively fatty or salty food such as fast food on a regular basis.
- Limit alcohol use – Excessive use of alcohol cause many diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and liver damage. Hence, limiting the use of alcohol is vital to staying disease free.
- Sleep well and stay physically fit – Staying physically fit through regular exercising is very important, as is getting a good night’s sleep. It is recommended that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per day for the body to rest and recuperate.
- Regular screening – Regular visits to your doctor and screening are great ways to keep yourself disease free, as doctors will be able to detect any abnormalities in your health and treat it before it becomes serious. This is especially important of you have a family history of chronic diseases.
Chronic diseases are a huge economic burden for a country in terms of increased health care costs and reduced productivity, in addition to its being a financial burden on a personal and community level. The highest costing chronic diseases have been found to be cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders and musculoskeletal conditions.
Making good lifestyle choices can keep you safe from chronic diseases. The choice is in your hands whether you want to be a burden to your community and your family and want to suffer with the weight of a chronic disease on you, or whether you will make that all important decision to change your style of living, and opt for a healthier future.