Chronic illness is a manmade tsunami that has taken over the world. 18 percent of our nation’s GDP is spent on healthcare. By 2040, that figure is expected to rise to 34 percent.
Why? Because 75 percent of all healthcare costs go to treating chronic illness, which gets worse as we age in most cases. It’s crippling healthcare and strangling healthcare workers across our country and around the world.
Some of the most common chronic illnesses are:
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological disorders like depression
- Attention deficit disorder
- Digestive diseases like gastric reflux
- Inflammatory bowel
- Bone loss diseases like osteoporosis
- Obstructive pulmonary diseases
- Muscle pain and weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
- Kidney and liver ailments
- Vision problems like macular degeneration
If you’re a small business owner like me, you have to re-evaluate your healthcare coverage every year. This always comes up when I speak with corporate leaders through my Wellness At Work program. The cost of healthcare is always rising – and rising quickly – because American businesses have such a sick employee base. We have to pay for chronic illness.
That’s the big problem. Our healthcare system wasn’t designed to treat chronic illness, an epidemic created by man. Our system was designed to deliver acute care. If you break your arm, you to go the doctor, he or she resets the bone and puts it in a cast, and you go for a few follow-up visits. The problem is solved.
If you have a sinus infection, you zap it with an antibiotic and it goes away after a few days. The problem is solved.
Chronic illness is a disease that never really goes away. Chronic illness typically stays with us, or it keeps coming back. It saps our energy and wears us down, day after day, month after month, year after year.
The effects of chronic illness can be managed in order to get occasional relief from pain or discomfort. We get pills to treat the symptoms but don’t attack the root cause, so the problem is rarely solved. And the cost of never-ending doctor visits and pill popping is staggering.
According to The Disease Delusion, a phenomenal book by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, chronic illness has four characteristics:
- Chronic illness is not a self-limiting disorder. Unlike the common cold, which eventually goes away, the body can’t cure itself of chronic illness.
- Chronic illness grows worse over time. Medication may make you feel better, but chronic illness often gets worse with age and requires an ongoing management system for recurring episodes.
- Chronic illness does not have a single cause. Several factors or agents create the disease. There are a number of hard-to-specify causes but no single origin.
- Chronic illness has complex symptom profiles. A person suffering from chronic illness is usually dealing with a number of issues that could be caused by a variety of illnesses. Solving the problem of chronic illness is an equally complex proposition.
The human body isn’t single dimensional. It’s a miracle of many systems working together in unison, like a symphony. While I love going to see one of my kids perform in the elementary school orchestra, I wouldn’t want my body’s systems to perform like that.
I want my body to perform like the New York Philharmonic.
Chronic illness causes a breakdown in these systems. Reversal of chronic illness is possible, but it takes a different way of thinking. We have to stop popping pills and treating symptoms or singular causes.
We created the chronic illness epidemic, so it’s time to use a different approach that’s capable of undoing it. We need to look at these diseases from an origin perspective and work backwards. Most importantly, we need to work harder to prevent chronic illness from occurring in the first place by living a wellness lifestyle.
I would love to have the opportunity to speak to your business or organization about improving employee health. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about my Wellness at Work health education programs.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.