Despite the tremendous stress associated with chronic illness, there are many approaches that can help people continue to live productive lives.
Coping methods differ depending on the circumstances of the illness, such as opportunities for control of symptoms.
For illnesses that are responsive to lifestyle and medical interventions — such as high blood pressure and diabetes — strategies are available.
Healthy lifestyle tips may even benefit some illnesses that have limited opportunities for medical intervention.
Here are some of the more common chronic conditions, along with helpful strategies for coping with them:
• High blood pressure. Methods for reducing blood pressure include maintaining a healthy body weight, stress reduction, cutting down on salt and alcohol consumption, and regular exercise.
• High cholesterol. People who stop smoking, reduce their alcohol intake, remain physically active, eat less saturated and trans fats, and maintain a healthy body weight can better manage their cholesterol levels.
• Arthritis. Regular exercise, healthy body weight, not smoking, and avoiding joint injuries can help patients reduce symptoms of arthritis.
• Diabetes. Diet, exercise, and weight management can help reduce and even prevent diabetes.
• Depression. Staying connected with friends and family, exercising regularly, and a healthy diet can help to manage symptoms.
• Dementia. Staying socially engaged, getting quality sleep, and eating a healthy diet can help manage symptoms.
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Quitting smoking; avoiding secondhand smoke, chemical fumes, and dust; getting flu and pneumonia vaccines; and remaining active can help minimize symptoms.
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