Three doctors talking to each other and a patient

Living with Multiple Chronic Conditions

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: April 2022 | Last updated: June 2022

More than 1 in 4 people in the United States are living with multiple chronic conditions (MCC). Chronic conditions are diseases that last longer than a year, affect day-to-day life, and require medical care. MCC is defined as living with 2 or more chronic conditions. Examples include:1

  • Asthma
  • Many types of arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • HIV
  • Mental illness
  • Dementia

People are more likely to have MCC as they age because certain diseases develop later in life. However, many Americans with MCC are under 65 years old.1

Unfortunately, living with MCC is linked to higher health risks. Plus, these risks increase as the number of conditions someone is living with increases. Examples include:1

  • Mortality
  • Unnecessary hospital visits
  • Drug side effects
  • Conflicting medical advice

Tips for living with MCC

Living with MCC can be a struggle at times. You may deal with fatigue or physical symptoms that keep you from living the life you want to. It also may be mentally taxing on you and your loved ones.

Here are some tips to help life with MCC run more smoothly, so you can focus on the things that matter to you:2

See what resources are available to you.

Reach out to your doctor to ask about any services in your area. There may be support groups or things like transportation help to get to appointments.

Prepare for medical appointments.

If you are living with MCC, you may see several doctors. It can be difficult to keep track of lots of appointments, and it can be frustrating to take multiple days off work. Talk to your doctors about scheduling appointments all on the same day. It may also help to keep track of any questions you have in a notepad or on your phone.

Organize your pills in a way that works for you.

If you take multiple drugs, it can be easy to confuse pills or miss doses. You can try a pill box to keep all your pills in one place. If you take your pills at certain times of day, you could place your pills in places where you will remember them. For example, you could put pills you take at bedtime on your bedside table or pills you take at breakfast next to the coffee maker. Some people also like reminders like written pill journals or cell phone alarms telling them when to take their next dose.

Discuss your medicines with a pharmacist.

If you have questions about the pills you take, you can talk to your local pharmacist. They can explain how to take your pills, what they treat, and what side effects to look out for.

Partnering with your doctor

When living with MCC, good communication is key. It is important to talk to your doctor about all the symptoms you are experiencing, how well your medicines are working, and if you have been diagnosed with another condition.

It is just as important for your doctors to communicate with each other. You can help this process by talking to your doctor’s offices about sending your medical notes to each other. You can speak to your doctor about how important it is to you that everyone is on the same page.3

Remember that this is your health and your life. Your goals may be different from someone else living with MCC. A close and open relationship with your doctors can help you focus on what is most important to you. Your doctors should talk to you about what to expect living with MCC. You should talk to them about what matters to you in your life. With that information, you and your doctors can team up to make the best care plan for you.3

Living with MCC may be difficult, but it does not need to take your quality of life away. If you have any questions about your healthcare or resources, reach out to your doctor.

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