Living with long term conditions
What is a long-term condition?
Long-term conditions are conditions that can not be cured, but can be managed through medication and/or therapy. More than 15 million people in England live with one or more long term conditions.
Here you can find information on some of the most common long term conditions, including who is at risk, what the symptoms are and how you can prevent and manage them.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the way your body processes sugar, causing blood sugar levels to become too high.
There are 2 main types of diabetes:
- type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
- type 2 diabetes – where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin
Type 1 happens when your body can’t make any insulin, the hormone that allows sugar in our blood to enter our cells. 10% of diabetics have type 1 which has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle.
The other 90% of diabetics have type 2, where they produce insulin but it doesn’t work properly. Risk of type 2 diabetes is increased by factors such as being overweight, smoking, or not exercising enough. Its symptoms can often be controlled through lifestyle changes. It’s estimated that an additional 1 million people in UK don’t know that they are living with Type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
No individual is the same. The symptoms you experience won’t exactly match those of another person. However, the most common symptoms experienced by many people with diabetes are increased thirst, increased urination, feeling tired and losing weight.
Who is at risk?
Diabetes is a concern for everyone, but particularly those who:
- are overweight or obese
- are age 45 or older
- have a family history of diabetes
- have high blood pressure
You can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to check whether you're a healthy weight.
Read more about:
To find out more about the symptoms of diabetes, risk factors and treatment read this guidance from Diabetes UK.
What is Long Covid?
‘Long Covid’ is a term used to describe a range of longer-term health effects some people are experiencing after they have had coronavirus.
For many people, Covid-19 can be a mild flu-like illness and recovery is swift. However, it is estimated that up to 60,000 people in the UK are suffering debilitating effects of the virus months after being infected.
Evidence is showing that ‘Long Covid’ can be categorised into four different syndromes: post-intensive care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome, permanent organ damage and long term Covid syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
The most commonly reported symptom is debilitating fatigue, which impacts people’s ability to work and lead a normal life.
Other reported symptoms include:
- persistent cough
- joint pain and muscle aches
- depression, anxiety and ‘brain fog’
- hearing and eyesight problems
- loss of smell and taste
- damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and gut
Who is at risk?
A recent study from King’s College London found that older people, women and those with a variety of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop ‘long COVID’ with one in 10 still experiencing side effects eight weeks after infection.
What should I do if I think I have Long Covid?
If you are experiencing long-term health complications following a COVID-19 infection, you should speak to your GP for advice. They will be able to recommend pathways for support.
The NHS Covid Recovery Plan offers online support for those recovering from Covid and recommends the “three Ps” in order to conserve energy: Pace, Plan and Prioritise.
- Pace yourself
Give yourself permission to slow down. Break activities into smaller tasks and rest when you get tired. It’s very important not to exhaust yourself.
- Plan ahead
Create a plan to spread out tiring activities across the week and build in plenty of time to rest.
Balance your everyday chores with things you do for fun and enjoyment. It’s important to take time for self-care and ask for help with activities you don’t need to do yourself.
If you find you are unable to return to work due to illness, your doctor will be able to give advice and may be able to provide you with a fit note which could offer suggestions such as a gradual return to work. For more information and guidance visit GOV.UK.
More information and support
The Department of Health and Social Care has released a short video aimed at raising awareness of ‘Long Covid’ symptoms. The UK Government and NHS England recognise that this is a very real problem for thousands of people and will be launching 40 new ‘Long Covid’ clinics to provide support by the end of November. You will be able to access these clinics through a referral from your GP or other healthcare professional.
A new taskforce has also been launched to help manage the NHS approach to ‘Long Covid’ and provide information and support materials to patients and healthcare professionals to increase understanding of the condition.
It may be helpful to join a Covid recovery support group such as LongCovid.org, or SelfHelp.org.uk. You don’t need to feel alone and it can be beneficial to share how you’re feeling with others who understand.
You can also join the fight against Covid-19 and support research by using the Covid Symptom Study app. It’s important that the authorities get the correct figures on how many people are struggling with long term effects so that the appropriate support can be offered.
More long term conditions
There are many long term conditions, if you're looking for information about a particular condition - you can find out more here.
Help with long-term conditions
We understand that living with a long term condition can be tough, that's why it's even more important to look after your overall health and wellbeing.
Research shows that people with long-term conditions who take more control of their health feel more able to cope with their health problem, have better pain management, fewer flare-ups and more energy. To help, we have lots of simple tips about healthy eating, sleep, self-care and exercise.
If you’re struggling with a long term condition or anything else, get in touch. Call us on 08081 311 333 or chat with us online. You don’t have to do this alone - we've got your back.
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