Chronic Health Conditions: Taking an Active Role in Your Care

Your healthcare provider will work with you to set up a treatment plan. The plan may include medicines. It might also include ways to find emotional support. To feel more healthy and in control, do your best to follow your plan.

Doctor talking with middle aged female patient.

Talk with your healthcare provider

To make the most of your office visits, try these tips:

  • Make a list of things you want to talk about, including new treatments. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Jot down what your health care provider says.

  • Keep a diary. Describe changes in your condition and in how you feel. Bring the diary to office visits.

  • Ask about other health services, such as dietitians or physical therapists.

  • Ask if complementary care, such as acupuncture or herbs, might help.

  • Bring a family member or trusted friend with you. That person can help you understand and remember what you heard.  

Take your medicines

Learn about the medicines you take. For the best results, be sure to do the following:

  • Ask your pharmacist if there are certain foods or medicines you should avoid while taking your medicine. This could include medicines you buy over the counter, such as aspirin, as well as vitamins and herbs.

  • Read labels. Use medicines only as directed. Don't skip doses or stop taking medicines on your own.

  • Don't share your medicines or take medicines from another person, even if it is the same medicine and dose.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are bothered by side effects. There may be other medicines you can try.

  • Store medicines properly. Some are affected by heat or light.

  • Ask your health insurer about buying medicines through the mail. Or check with groups that focus on your condition. They may know other ways to save on costs.

Start to deal with emotions

When you're coping with a health problem, it's normal to be sad or depressed at times. Some medicines can also affect your mood. Still, if these feelings don't go away, be sure to tell someone. Depression can be treated.

If you choose, share what you learn about your condition with the people in your life. Consider inviting family members along when you attend a support group meeting. Learning more about your condition can ease their concerns and make it easier for them to support you.