Have you been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma? Knowing about and managing health conditions is essential for your overall wellness. And your chronic conditions don’t have to take over your life! Even small steps, like working with a health care provider you trust, can make a difference.
Diabetes/High Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot use the sugars and starches (carbohydrates) it takes in as food to make energy. The body either makes no insulin or too little insulin, or it can’t use the insulin it makes to change those sugars and starches into energy. As a result, extra sugar builds up in the blood.
The American Diabetes Association has great tools and resources that can help:
Learn about managing Type 1 Diabetes
Learn about managing Type 2 Diabetes
If you would like to become pregnant, good control of your blood sugar before and during pregnancy helps prevent diabetes-associated birth defects and problems like high blood pressure that can harm you and your baby. Talk with your provider about becoming pregnant and how that might change your A1C goals and blood sugar targets. You can also check out this guide from the American Diabetes Association on managing diabetes while pregnant.
Hypertension/High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be a silent killer because many people don’t have symptoms. Checking your blood pressure and controlling it with medication and/or diet and exercise if it is high can help reduce your risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
A healthy blood pressure range is 120/80 mm Hg for most young adults. You can check your blood pressure at many pharmacies for free. Ask your health provider about your blood pressure numbers, what they mean, and how to stay in a healthy range.
Start With Your Heart – Resources for prevention and management of high blood pressure
Heart.org – Track your blood pressure and heart health with tools from the American Heart Association.
Smart Blood Pressure – a mobile app to help track blood pressure, with tips to keep the numbers in a healthy range.
If you would like to become pregnant, talk with your provider about any adjustments to your blood pressure medication and your blood pressure target numbers. Some medications are considered safer than others during pregnancy. Check out information from the American Heart Association on having a heart-healthy pregnancy, even before you conceive.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest, or coughing. Women with asthma may have more symptoms during certain times in their menstrual cycle, and asthma can also cause problems during pregnancy. You can help prevent or stop asthma attacks with medicine and by staying away from your asthma triggers, such as pollen, mold, or air pollution. Check out resources and tools for living with asthma from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
In a healthy person, the immune system fights invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. But in a person with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and Crohn’s disease, the body’s immune system releases inflammatory chemicals that attack healthy cells. Women are more likely than men to have an autoimmune disease, making up nearly 80% of the people who suffer from these conditions. The Office on Women’s Health has a comprehensive list of autoimmune diseases and links to disease-specific information and tools. Also, the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association has tools and resources, including links to local support groups.
If you would like to become pregnant or are open to becoming pregnant, talk with your provider about how your autoimmune disease may affect your fertility and pregnancy. Some diseases can make it harder to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Others are often treated by medications that should not be used during pregnancy. The symptoms of some autoimmune diseases decrease during pregnancy, while some become harder to manage. Having a plan in place before you want to become pregnant may help you have a smoother pregnancy and postpartum experience.