Preventing chronic conditions
Some chronic conditions are not preventable because they are genetic or the cause is unknown. Examples include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis.
Other chronic conditions can sometimes develop due to risk factors that people can control. Examples include type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, some lung diseases and stroke.
Things you can do to reduce the risk of developing a preventable chronic condition include:
- quitting smoking
- getting enough physical activity
- reducing your alcohol intake
- eating well
- maintaining a healthy weight
- maintaining healthy blood pressure
- having good cholesterol levels.
Population-based health screening
Cancer is another type of chronic condition. You can either prevent cancer or, if found early, reduce illness and the chances of death by participating in our screening programs:
- BreastScreen Australia Program
- National Cervical Screening Program
- National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
- National Indigenous Bowel Screening Pilot.
Other population-based screening programs identify chronic conditions in newborns. Babies can then get early treatment, leading to better quality of life.
Diagnosing chronic conditions
Chronic conditions can be complex. Diagnosing them can be complex as well.
Your doctor can help you if you have some problems or symptoms that worry you. Your doctor can order some diagnostic tests to see if they can work out what is wrong. Tests might include:
- blood tests
- CT or MRI scans, or ultrasounds.
Your doctor might refer you to a specialist if they:
- can’t diagnose your problem
- have diagnosed a condition, but think you need more help.
The type of specialist you need to see will depend on your symptoms and diagnosis.
For more information about diagnosing specific chronic conditions, search for the condition on healthdirect.
Treating and managing chronic conditions
People living with a chronic condition will need to manage it long term, perhaps for the rest of their lives. You can take an active role in managing your condition.
Treating the symptoms of your chronic condition can improve your quality of life.
If you have a chronic condition, you can manage it by:
- making regular visits to your general practitioner or specialist
- having a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep
- taking your prescribed medicines
- following your management plan, if you have one.
Medicare funds Chronic Diseases Management (CDM) plans. These plans help people who need a structured approach to managing their chronic disease, including ongoing care from a team of health professionals. Speak to your general practitioner (GP) to see if you need a CDM plan.
See more information about treating and managing chronic diseases:
- Better Health Channel
- condition-specific support groups in Australia.
See chronic conditions contacts for a list of organisations, websites and services that offer support and information about chronic conditions.