At some point in our lives we will all experience a health problem, whether it's the common cold or a pesky flu. While some will go away on their own, there are health issues that require urgent medical attention, and it’s important to know when to seek proper treatment.
What Is An Acute Disease?
An acute disease appears suddenly and lasts for a short amount of time. This is different from chronic diseases, which develop gradually and remain for months on end. Some examples include the influenza virus and the common cold.
Acute diseases can include these common symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Through a physical examination and identifying your symptoms, your internist can provide a diagnosis and individualized treatment plan to care for your acute illness.
Serious Acute Illnesses
Many acute diseases can be self-limiting and may go away on their own, or can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics or other prescription medications. There are some acute diseases, however, that come on suddenly and produce life-threatening symptoms. These include:
These more serious acute diseases require urgent medical care. If you suspect you may have a severe acute illness, it's important that you call 911 or go to your local emergency room. By seeking treatment for your acute illness as soon as possible, you lessen the chance for further complications or other long-term health issues.
- Heart attack
- Asthma attack
- Organ failure
- Acute bronchitis
What Is Chronic Disease?
According to the Center of Disease Control, chronic diseases cause 7 out of 10 deaths each year and are responsible for 86 percent of America’s health care costs. Some of the most common chronic diseases include:
- Heart disease
Other types of chronic conditions include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Eating disorders
- Gum disease
As of 2012, about half of all American adults had at least one chronic health problem. About one in four adults had two or more chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, these conditions can also cause other long-term complications, including kidney failure, disability and limb amputation. Your internist, however, can often help prevent these diseases altogether, or find the best ways to treat your condition and manage your symptoms. Through routine medical visits, we can pinpoint issues while they are manageable - sometimes even when still reversible.
Causes of Chronic Disease
So, what causes chronic diseases in the first place? While there are many factors, one of the main issues is unhealthy behaviors such as:
- Poor nutrition
- Heavy alcohol use
- Using tobacco
By changing these habits, you can greatly decrease your chances of developing some of these chronic illnesses.
It can be a challenge to know exactly what constitutes a healthy diet or what exercise plan is right for you. Your doctor can discuss foods you should eat, as well as foods you should avoid. Plus, we can recommend exercise regimes that are right for your needs and abilities. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of chronic diseases. We can even help you find programs that will aid you in quitting bad habits, like smoking and heavy drinking.
Turn to your internist to have your chronic disease diagnosed and treated, and you can see your quality of life drastically improve. Don’t hesitate - if you think you may be suffering the symptoms of a chronic disease, schedule an appointment today.