Living with chronic illness

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is difficult, and almost certainly means some major changes in your life. You can adjust to living with a chronic illness by getting good info, and talking to people - doctors, counsellors, or other people living with the illness.

This could be for you if:

  • You or someone close to you has been diagnosed with a chronic illness
  • You're struggling to adjust to living with a chronic illness
  • You want tactics to help you live with an illness
Boy in hospital ER

What is a chronic illness?

A chronic illness is any medical condition that lasts a long time. Some chronic illnesses get worse over time, while the symptoms of other chronic illnesses will flare up occasionally. There are lots of different chronic illnesses, and each have different causes and symptoms. Some examples of chronic illnesses are:

  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

If you, or someone you know, has a chronic illness

Being diagnosed with any medical problem can be a shock. When it's something serious that you're going to have for a long time, it can be even harder to adjust to. It's normal to get frustrated or upset about living with a chronic illness.

Depending on the condition, chances are you'll have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle to manage with symptoms of the illness. It could mean you need to cut down on alcohol, change your diet, get more exercise or rest, or adjust to taking medication. Doctors will try to work out a treatment plan that fits specifically with your own individual needs and lifestyle but often you'll still have to make some adjustments in your everyday life.

Get good info

Getting the facts about your illness is vital – talk to a doctor or specialist about how to manage it and what changes to make in your life. You'll also feel more comfortable and in control once you've got good info.

You aren't the only person living with the illness you've got, and there will be people who are tackling the same issues as you. So talk to them – you'll find there's a lot you can do for each other. Most of the chronic illnesses have support groups available that have loads of resources and can give you info and support too.

Talking to medical people – doctors, psychologists or counsellors – will also really help. They'll be able to let you know what you can do to make things easier for yourself, and can give you good advice about how to deal with the changes that living with your illness brings.

What can I do now?

  • Avoid altering your treatment plan before talking to your doctor.
  • Keep doing things that make you happy.
  • If you're under 21 you can connect, interact and support other young people with a chronic health condition on Livewire.
Last reviewed: 06 September, 2016
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