Chronic disease is a disease that is sustained for a long period of time, typically longer than a year. According to the CDC, six out of ten people have a chronic disease. Chronic diseases are noncommunicable, meaning that they cannot be passed from person to person. The list of chronic diseases is never-ending and includes disorders affecting every system of the body. A few examples are heart disease, asthma/COPD, mood disorders, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders such Lupus.
Because chronic diseases usually do not have a cure, they require ongoing medical treatment. Treatment of chronic disease can be very complex due to several reasons. People with chronic disease often have multiple chronic illnesses, and need to see several different specialists. The CDC websites states that four out of ten people have two or more chronic diseases. Another challenge is that chronic diseases can make you more susceptible to other diseases and complications, such as infections and organ damage. Due to the long duration of the disease people with chronic disease can also develop a tolerance to medications, frequently requiring increased doses or additional medications. Multiple medications can lead to multiple drug interactions and unwanted side effects.
The effects of chronic disease are multifaceted affecting a person physically, psychologically, and socially. Chronic disease can be debilitating and disabling, and may prevent a person from being able to work. Many people with chronic disease suffer with depression and experience isolation from family and friends. It is essential to take all aspects of a person’s life into consideration when trying to understand chronic disease.
Living with chronic disease can be overwhelming, especially knowing that the disease won’t just resolve on its own like a common cold. We have to fight our disease every day, and a lot of times it feels like we are losing. But we are not. Every day that we are alive, we are winning the battle and showing our disease that we are stronger than it!