Health And Chronic Illness

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Health and Chronic Illness

Health and Chronic Illness

Defination of Health

The term health has been defined in many different ways but generally refers to individual wellness, indicating the sum of an individual's state of being, that person's optimal physical and mental functioning within the context of the living environment (home, work, community). The term health may also refer to a group of people, as a summary indication of the group's functional state (Stanton, 2001).

Standard dictionary definitions of health present two concepts: (a) the absence of disease or disability, and (b) optimal wellness, where a person is functioning at a personally defined maximum capacity in a certain set of environmental constraints. These two concepts, illness and wellness, are not necessarily connected in a continuum; that is, individuals can feel ill in the absence of illness or disability.

Defination of Chronic Illness

A chronic illness is any medical condition that has a prolonged course and often interferes with physical and mental functioning. Chronic medical conditions may also be marked by periods of acute exacerbation that require more intensive medical attention. Examples of chronic illnesses include acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, leukemia, sickle cell disease, and spina bifida. Although chronic conditions can be life threatening, increases in medical knowledge and advances in technology have enabled many individuals with these medical disorders to live longer and lead productive lives (Roberts, 2007).

Can a Person with Chronic Illness be Healthy?

Many children and adolescents experience chronic health conditions. While all children have times of sickness and health in their young lives, children with chronic illnesses have ongoing conditions that affect their normal activities and that may require extensive medical care, including hospitalizations or home health care. Examples of chronic illnesses include asthma (the most common condition), diabetes, cerebral palsy, cancer, epilepsy, spina bifida, AIDS, congenital heart problems, and sickle cell anemia (Hayman, 2002).

Young people with chronic health conditions often face a wide range of problems related to their disease. These can include feeling “different” from other children, frequent doctor and hospital visits, having to endure painful or difficult medical treatments, and hospital stays that can be frightening or lonely (Hamann, 2006). A young person's reaction to both the diagnosis and the disease will be heavily affected by his or her personality, the specific illness, his or her developmental stage, and perceived support from family and medical personnel. Counselors can help children and their families cope with illness using behavioral techniques such as relaxation, biofeedback, and positive practice and by modeling healthy behaviors for children. Counselors can also help children cope with their illnesses by providing them with a forum in which they can speak openly about their disease and their experiences. Due to the chronic nature of these childhood diseases, depression is often a side effect in children, who may feel that they will never be “normal,” or like other children. Counselors should be aware of the signs of depression in children and should assess for ...
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