What is Chronic illness ?

A chronic illness is stressful.
Stress can affect your recovery and the way you cope with the illness and its treatment.
There are things you can do to help you come to terms with the new direction your life has taken.

A chronic or long-term illness means having to adjust to the demands of the illness and the therapy used to treat the condition. There may be additional stresses, since chronic illness might change the way you live, see yourself and relate to others.

Characteristics of a chronic illness

Chronic illnesses are mostly characterised by

complex causes
many risk factors
long latency periods (time between onset of the illness and feeling its effects)
a long illness
functional impairment or disability.

Most chronic illnesses do not fix themselves and are generally not cured completely. Some can be immediately life-threatening, such as heart disease and stroke. Others linger over time and need intensive management, such as diabetes. Most chronic illnesses persist throughout a person’s life, but are not always the cause of death, such as arthritis.

Common chronic illnesses

While many illnesses can be considered chronic, there are 12 major chronic conditions that are a significant burden in terms of morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs in Australia, including:

heart disease
lung cancer
colorectal cancer
type 2 diabetes
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
chronic kidney disease
oral disease.


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