When doctors diagnose a chronic illness, they also recommend treatments that can relieve symptoms or keep the body functioning at its healthiest.
Sometimes treatments involve medications the doctor will prescribe. Sometimes managing the illness also will depend on things the ill person can do to remain as healthy as possible, such as making changes in diet, quitting smoking, or exercising more.
People with chronic illness seem to do best when they work as partners with their doctors to take an active role in caring for their health.
The symptoms of many chronic illnesses can be controlled with medication or changes in diet and activity.
For example, people with diabetes (dy-a-BEE-teez) are unable to process sugars properly for use by the body. By taking insulin * or other medications and by eating properly, people with diabetes can lead very active, normal lives. Bobby Clarke, who played professional ice hockey for many years, is an example of a person with diabetes who has had a vigorous and demanding career, even though he takes insulin every day.
Some people with chronic illnesses have symptoms that appear only under certain conditions.
For example, some people with asthma (AZ-ma), a chronic illness that affects the lungs, may experience difficulty breathing only when they exercise, breathe in pollutants, or are under stress. Others with asthma may need to take medications or use inhalers daily to prevent wheezing.
When the symptoms of a chronic illness are not present or are minimal, the illness is said to be in remission (ree-MI-shun). Having an illness that is in remission is not the same as being cured, because the disease that causes the illness is still present.
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