Chronic illness and chronic disability may refer to any health condition or disability that is long-term. Generally speaking, for a condition to be considered "chronic" its effects or the condition itself must last more than 3 months. Chronic conditions are more commonly non-communicable meaning they are not passed from person to person. They may have a genetic basis or run in families. Examples of chronic illnesses are heart disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer or long-term respiratory illness. Some may be acquired through the environment or by an accident. Some communicable conditions, like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, are also considered chronic. Mental health conditions, developmental delays or disabilities, and impairments such as hearing or vision problems are also considered chronic illnesses/disabilities.
Most chronic conditions are long-term because there is no cure or treatment. However, many chronic conditions may be improved or better tolerated with medications or lifestyle changes. Some chronic illnesses or disabilities can be prevented by limiting exposure to certain things such as tobacco use, alcohol use, exposures to hazardous products, and maintaining a healthy body weight and lifestyle. Unfortunately lower income countries and regions have fewer resources to help manage chronic illness. Finding the right doctor or team of doctors to help one manage their condition is important. Support groups may be especially helpful for individuals with a chronic illness or disability.