Chronic diseases are long-lasting conditions that can be controlled but not cured, and are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. These include heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and are also among the most costly affecting our country. The upside? Chronic diseases are among the most preventable of health problems.
Living with a chronic disease is hard — it can be painful, costly, and impacts your personal and professional life, and shorten your lifespan. The best way to prevent these diseases is through healthy choices behaviors across the span of a lifetime. Eating more fruits and vegetables, getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding dangerous habits like tobacco and alcohol use are some ways that you can prevent chronic disease. Find out more on what you can do to stay healthy. It’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle!
From arthritis and asthma to diabetes and heart disease, there are many types of chronic illnesses that many educators and students live with. Listed below is information on several common chronic illnesses.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Arthritis” means joint inflammation, but it is used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues which surround the joint and other connective tissue. Typically, these conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around the joints. Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly, and there are multiple forms of arthritis, each with its own unique symptoms. Being active, seeing your doctor regularly, keeping your weight down and learning techniques to reduce pain from arthritis will help with this chronic disease.
Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and youth in the U.S., and one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. Approximately 6.8 million children and youth in the U.S. (9.3%) have asthma. In addition, teachers and custodians have been identified as having higher rates of occupational asthma. More than 18 million adults are living with asthma. Learn more about different triggers and controlling asthma on our website here.
Cancer is a general term for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. No matter where the cancer spreads, it is always named for the part of the body where it originated. Half of all men and one third of all women will develop cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society
While there are many forms of cancer, the methods of prevention tend to be the same. There is no cure for cancer yet, however good nutrition, physical activity, avoiding tobacco use and getting your recommended health screenings (such as colorectal and cervical) will all assist in helping prevent cancer from developing.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (also known as sugar) for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood, which can lead to health complications.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for women and men, and a major cause of disability. The most common form of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. The risk of developing coronary artery disease and other heart diseases may be greatly reduced through improvements lifestyle choices that include diet and exercise.
- Checking your blood pressure routinely
- Monitoring your cholesterol
- Managing diabetes
- Taking medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. It can cause death or significant disability, such as paralysis, speech difficulties and emotional problems.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability. In up to 80 percent of cases, it can be prevented. For further information on the signs of a stroke and ways to prevent and manage it, please visit the CDC’s Stroke Information, the National Stroke Association or the American Stroke Association.