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Self-Care Measures with a Chronic Disease


Self-care measures are steps you can take to help cope with symptoms of a long-term disease. Self-care measures can be used in addition to your healthcare provider's treatment and care for your disease.


Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Lifestyle changes:

The following lifestyle changes may help you manage your symptoms and feel better:

  • Follow directions: Take all medicine as directed. Make sure you know how to safely use any medical devices, such as wheelchairs or oxygen tanks.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Several small meals throughout the day may help decrease fatigue and help you get plenty of nutrition.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Get plenty of exercise: Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can help decrease your symptoms and improve your mood and health.
  • Limit alcohol: Alcohol may increase your symptoms. Depending on your illness, your healthcare provider may recommend that you avoid alcohol.
  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking may make symptoms of your chronic disease worse. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Tools for self-care:

You may need devices to help your daily life become easier. Feeding yourself may be easier if you use forks, knives, and spoons with bigger handles. Reaching devices may help you pick up things so that you do not have to bend over or stretch. Tools such as dressing sticks, shoehorns with long handles, and button hooks help you dress yourself. A sponge with a long handle may help you wash yourself. You may need a special seat for your shower or a shower that is designed for a wheelchair. You may need a lift or other machine to help you move from your bed or chair. Ask for more information about these devices.

Physical and occupational therapy:

Therapy may help you adapt to changes caused by your disease, symptoms, and treatment. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your medicine makes you feel sick.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • Your pain medicine does not seem to be working.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You suddenly feel weak or numb.
  • You suddenly cannot move an arm or leg.
  • You have vision loss.
  • You feel like hurting yourself on purpose.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.