Long Term Conditions

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Asthma is a common condition that causes coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest and breathlessness. Most people with asthma who take the appropriate treatment can live normal lives, but left untreated, asthma can cause permanent damage to the airways

Symptoms of asthma

The usual symptoms of asthma are

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest.

Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people experience them from time to time; a few people may experience these symptoms all the time.

Treatment of asthma

There isn’t a cure for asthma. However, treatments are available to help manage your symptoms. Your treatment plan will be individual to you, combining medicines and asthma management in a way that works best for you

Living with asthma

Medicines are only part of your treatment for asthma. You will also need to deal with the things that make it worse. Keep a diary to record anything that triggers your asthma – this can help you to discover a pattern. Using a peak flow meter to monitor your lung function can also help. If you have repeatedly low readings in a certain situation (for example, at the end of a working day, after exercise or after contact with an animal) this may indicate the trigger.

Useful Links

Asthma Society of Ireland
The Asthma Society of Ireland’s mission is to optimise asthma control through support, education, effecting change and research.

HSE – Asthma
Further information about symptoms, treatment, causes and prevention of Asthma.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Cancer is a group of conditions where the body’s cells begin to grow and reproduce in an uncontrollable way. These cells can then invade and destroy healthy tissue, including organs.

Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other parts. This process is known as metastasis.

How common is cancer?

Cancer is a common condition. Around 29,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Ireland. More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

The most common cancers in Ireland are:

Useful Links

Irish Cancer Society
We aim to improve the lives of those affected by cancer. We do this by providing up to date information and a range of services, and by influencing change and raising awareness of cancer issues.

Breastcheck
BreastCheck is a Government-funded programme providing breast screening and invites women aged 50 to 64 for a free mammogram on an area-by-area basis every two years. The aim of BreastCheck is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by finding and treating the disease at an early stage.

Cancer Screening
The National Cancer Screening Service will develop and provide quality cancer screening programmes for people in Ireland.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Each year in Ireland, an estimated 6,000 people have a heart attack. Many heart attacks that lead to death are preventable. This is because most of the risk factors that are listed above can also be prevented.

Most heart attacks occur in people who are over 45 years of age. Men are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack than women.

Over the last decade, death rates from heart attacks have fallen by around 40%. This may be related to an associated decrease in the number of people smoking cigarettes. However, the number of deaths is still higher than in many other western European countries. It is thought that this is because Ireland has higher rates of obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity (people not exercising enough) than in other countries.

Treatment options for a heart attack can involve using medication to dissolve any blood clots and surgery to widen the coronary artery.

Useful Links

Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation is the national charity fighting stroke and heart disease, funded up to 90 per cent by public and corporate donations

HSE – Angina
Angina is a syndrome (a collection of symptoms caused by an underlying health condition) that is caused when the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becomes restricted. Find out more

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have trouble breathing in and out. This is referred to as airflow obstruction.

Breathing difficulties are caused by long-term damage to the lungs, usually because of smoking.

Useful Links

HSE – COPD
Guide to the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and risks of COPD from the HSE

Quit.ie
UIT is a HSE health education campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to quit. We want to reduce the numbers of smokers in Ireland and reduce the level of illness and deaths caused by tobacco use. The campaign is based on a fact that is not well known among the public. That fact is that 1 in every 2 smokers will die of a tobacco related disease.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is also known as diabetes mellitus. There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.

In the absence of a register of people who have diabetes no-one can be entirely sure how many people In Ireland live with diabetes; the Institute of Public Health’s report Making Diabetes Count (2007) estimated that there were about 143,000 people with diabetes in Ireland (based on in 2005 figures) and predicted that this number would increase by 37%, to 194,000 people, by 2015.

More than three-quarters of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes mellitus. This used to be known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or maturity-onset diabetes mellitus. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing as it commoner in the overweight and obese, which is itself a growing problem.

The remainder have type 1 diabetes mellitus, which used to be known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

What’s the treatment for diabetes?

It’s recognised that the sooner the blood sugar levels are brought under control, the better the long term prospects of preventing damage. Lifestyle advice about diet, weight management and regular activity is the first step.

Type 1 diabetes will require immediate insulin therapy, Type 2 diabetes will first be managed with a drug called Metformin, if lifestyle changes alone aren’t effective. There are now several other drugs used in type 2 diabetes, although eventually some type 2 diabetics will need insulin therapy as it’s a progressive disease

There is further information and education on the Diabetes UK Video Site

Useful Links

Diabetes Ireland
Diabetes Ireland works to provide a quality service in improving the lives of people affected by diabetes, and working with others to prevent and cure diabetes.

HSE – Diabetes
An introduction to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes – the symptoms, cause, diagnosis and treatment.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. It is estimated that in four people has a mental health problem at some point, which can affect their daily life, relationships or physical health.

Mental health problems can affect anyone. Without support and treatment, mental health problems can have a serious effect on the individual and those around them.

Every year in Ireland, about 20,000 people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals and about 500 people commit suicide

Useful Links

Your Mental Health

This website has been developed by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (www.nosp.ie) as part of the ‘Your Mental Health’ awareness campaign, which aims to improve awareness and understanding of mental health and well-being in Ireland. This is particularly important in the present economic climate when we are under financial pressures, losing our job or facing relationship difficulties.

Let Someone Know
If you are under 18 please go to www.letsomeoneknow.ie where you will find age appropriated information and advice.  The ‘Let Someone Know’ campaign is a recent recipient of the Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Award

HSE – Mental Health
Guide and Resources on mental health issues.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation (swelling) of the joints and bones. The main symptoms of arthritis include:

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • restricted movements of the joints
  • inflammation and swelling
  • warmth and redness of the skin over the joint

One in every six people in Ireland is affected by arthritis

The most common forms of arthritis are:

Useful Links

Arthritis Ireland
Arthritis Ireland provides vital services & info that makes a big difference to the quality of life of the one-in-five (915,000) in Ireland with arthritis.
Osteoarthritis – HSE
The symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis – HSE
The symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain damage and possibly death.

Strokes are a medical emergency and prompt treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

Types of stroke

There are two main causes of strokes:

  • ischaemic (accounting for over 80% of all cases): the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot
  • haemorrhagic: a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts and causes brain damage

There is also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a ‘mini-stroke’. TIAs should be treated seriously as they are often a warning sign that a stroke is coming.

Useful Links

Irish Heart Foundation
The Irish Heart Foundation is the national charity fighting stroke and heart disease, funded up to 90 per cent by public and corporate donations
HSE – Stroke
The symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of a stroke

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

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