A chronic disease is a type of persistent, medical condition that many people experience for part of or their entire lifetime. The World Health Organisation states that chronic diseases are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Find out how you can help prevent the onset of chronic disease with Bloom.
What is a chronic disease?
A chronic condition is defined as a disease that is persistent or long-lasting. So, unlike an acute illness, like a headache or a cold, a chronic disease means that the symptoms last for longer than three months. The disease can also develop slowly, or grow worse, over an extended period of time. There are hundreds of different chronic conditions with varying symptoms and risks. Those that are covered by Bloom’s health insurance policies include:
- Addison’s Disease
- Bipolar Mood Disorder
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Diabetes Insipidus
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 1
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Ulcerative Colitis
What causes a chronic disease?
While some chronic diseases are linked to risk factors, like age or hereditary traits, many are caused by poor lifestyle choices. For instance, did you know that obesity can cause diabetes or hypertension.
There are a number of simple lifestyle habits and changes you can adopt to help reduce your chances of developing a chronic disease, which would severely impact the quality of your life.
7 lifestyle choices you can make to prevent chronic disease
In some cases, it is possible to prevent, manage or control a chronic disease; even for those on the chronic disease list that are hereditary in nature. You can take precautionary, pre-emptive steps to reduce your risk of developing a disease, and while it is always best to consult with your GP or specialist for a long-term prevention plan, here are some of the general changes you can start adopting today:
1. Quit smoking
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance with serious health implications, both chronic and short-term. The CANSA organisation urges smokers to give up the habit if they wish to reduce their risk of infection. According to their recent reports, 42,000 South Africans die from tobacco-related diseases each year. Shockingly, up to 900,000 of these are non-smokers who are affected by second-hand smoke.
Smoking increases your risk for developing a chronic disease, like cancer, lung disease, hypertension, Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Find out the best ways to quit smoking from Hello Doctor.
2. Eat your way to good health
The quality of food you eat and chronic disease often go hand in hand. Plan a balanced diet and you can prevent or manage chronic conditions by strengthening your body’s immune system. We recommend eating nutritious foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, high-fibre wholegrains and complex carbohydrates everyday. Avoid foods that are low in nutritional value, like those with a high sugar or salt content, trans or saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and processed food.
An easy way to get on the right track is to be prepared: plan your meals ahead of time to avoid grabbing an unhealthy option. Get into the routine of eating three healthy meals each day. Try to fill up on fibre for breakfast in the morning and opt for a leafy salad or whole grain sandwich for lunch. For dinner, make sure that at least half your plate contains vegetables. Snack on fruit or vegetables during the day to keep your energy levels up and remember to always drink at least 6-8 glasses of water everyday to keep yourself well hydrated.
3. Get off the couch and start exercising
Get active! Our bodies need a certain amount of physical activity in order to stay healthy. Regular exercise activities will strengthen your cardiovascular system, improve your blood circulation, tone your muscles and enhance overall flexibility. Exercise can help reduce your risk of developing certain chronic diseases, like Type II Diabetes or heart disease by helping you maintain a healthy body mass index and keeping your blood pressure steady.
How much exercise do you need to keep fit and healthy? The Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for adults. Children are advised to enjoy 60-minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise activities each week. Any type of physical activity that gets your heart pumping is excellent. You can opt for traditional activities, like cycling or jogging or you could try your hand at some gardening or even walk the dog.
4. Limit your alcohol consumption
Excessive drinking, over an extended period of time, can lead to a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, or to the development of certain types of cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke or liver disease. It is also a highly addictive substance. Alarmingly, the WHO indicates that South Africa has the fifth-highest alcohol consumption rate in the world. We recommend you limit your alcohol intake to the prescribed guidelines, which is a maximum of 10 drinks per week for women and a maximum of 15 drinks per week for men. A drink qualifies as:
- 435ml (1 bottle) of regular strength beer (5% alcohol)
- 142ml of wine (12% alcohol)
- 43ml of spirits (40% alcohol)
5. Get enough quality sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for both your mental and physical health. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep can lead to many health issues. Poor sleep routines have been linked to obesity, depression, heart and stroke disease, diabetes, poor immune function and inflammatory diseases.
The experts recommend getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This is because our bodies require the sleep time to rejuvenate, grow muscle, synthesise hormones and repair tissue damage, none of which can happen if you’re constantly burning the midnight oil.
6. Go for medical check-ups and screenings
One of the best ways to prevent a chronic illness, is to know if you’re at risk. By going for a GP check-up or medical screening, you’ll be able to detect any issues early on. Catching a health problem early offers you the best chance for effective treatment, maintenance, recovery or survival.
Medical screenings become more important as you grow older. These tests will help you decrease your risk of developing a chronic disease by detecting any abnormalities before serious symptoms even present. The type of medical screening tests recommended will depend on your age, family medical history and special risk factors.
7. Be aware of your family history
Some chronic diseases are more likely to affect those with a family history of the disorder. These include cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Make sure you are fully aware of your complete family health history so you can share this crucial information with your doctor and other health professionals. This way you’ll both be able to take preventive steps or watch for early warning signs.
Does health insurance cover chronic or critical illness?
The answer is yes! At Bloom we encourage health and wellness. Stick to a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise activity, quality sleep, prescribed medical screenings and making smart choices. We offer a wide variety of health insurance options that can help support your medical needs. So, from as little as R570per month our Health4Me Silver and Health4Me Gold options offer unlimited chronic medication coverage for 26 different chronic conditions.
Get in touch with one of our expert consultants to make sure you and your family are covered for chronic disease with affordable health insurance.
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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.