Long-term conditions are chronic diseases or conditions for which there is currently no cure, and which are managed with medications and other treatments.

These conditions can generally last for a year or longer and may impact upon a person’s everyday life. Examples include:

Living with a long term condition

Our health is our most important asset and learning how to care for ourselves enables us to take control of our own health and wellbeing.

Being proactive about our health helps us to avoid becoming ill, treat common, everyday illnesses, take medicines and properly seek help when we need it as well as keeping fit and healthy.

What should I do to manage my condition?

Everyone’s experience of living with a long-term condition is different, but there are a few things you can do to help manage your condition and stay well this winter:

Getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent the likelihood of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19, and is all the more important if you have a weakened immune system in helping to ensure you are protected.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

If you have a long-term condition, you should also have regular reviews of your condition and treatment. These are usually carried out by a member of your GP practice team, but sometimes may be done by your specialist team. Reviews should be carried out at least once a year and it is important to keep on top of this to ensure the condition is managed appropriately.

Make sure you have enough medication to last you and take it every day as prescribed. It’s important that you plan ahead and book any routine appointments with your practice in plenty of time.

If you are having problems with any of your medicines, or are no longer taking them, please mention this to your local pharmacist, practice based pharmacist, nurse or GP.

Cold weather can trigger many long-term conditions and even a small change in temperature may affect you. As we approach the winter months, it’s more important to eat well and keep warm. One of the many ways to do this is to keep active and have regular hot drinks and meals.

If you have a chronic condition, being more active will help you to manage the condition more effectively and stop progression, which can lead on to other benefits such as lower medication use, less pain, and increased overall quality of life.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. It damages your heart, blood circulation and lungs, and can also worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, or respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.

Winter can make long-term conditions worse. If you feel unwell, it's important to seek medical attention as soon you can. Use over-the-counter medicines and pharmacy as your first point of call. Pharmacists are fully trained to advise you on the best course of action.

There are also several support services that can make living with a long term condition easier and help you deal with your symptoms on a day-to-day basis. Please contact your GP for more information.

Read more tips on self care.

Who can help me?

Pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses can offer specific advice and support if you do become unwell or are managing a long-term condition. There’s also plenty of information and support available to help you to take care of yourself on a daily basis.

The national NHS website has lots of useful information on self-care support and links to information on specific health conditions, from commonly occurring symptoms to long term conditions.

Community pharmacists are qualified health professionals who can offer help and advice about minor conditions, health and wellbeing and treat minor injuries and ailments.

Their advice is useful if you have a long-term condition as they can offer lots of support and information specific to your health needs. Some pharmacists are also accredited to perform health checks with your consent, to ensure you are taking prescribed medications properly and discuss any concerns or issues preventing that from happening. Ask them about these services.

Digital technology is also changing the way we take care of our health. As well as mobile apps to help us to manage our weight, diet and exercise and learn more about health-related issues and conditions, there is a range of home monitoring equipment available for people with a long term condition to enable them to stay at home, but still stay in touch with their health professionals. You can find out more about our digital apps and schemes here.

Those who have no or limited access to a digital device or no confidence to use digital devices can apply to loan Geobook laptop via our Black Country Connected Programme.

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