Special Report

Most Common Ailments in America

There were about 860.4 million doctor’s office visits in 2018, or about 2.67 visits per person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 83.4% of adults and 94% of children had a visit with a doctor or health care professional in 2020. Many of these visits were likely prompted by the most common ailments in America.

To identify the most common ailments in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the weighted number of episodes in 51 broad condition categories, including 323 conditions treated in the U.S. in 2019, using data from the Health Care Satellite Account — a set of statistics measuring U.S. health care spending produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. To concentrate on specific conditions and diseases, we excluded miscellaneous categories. All other data is from the BEA. 

The list includes a host of chronic diseases, mental health problems, various hereditary conditions, infectious diseases, and more. According to the CDC, 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 have two or more chronic diseases. 

People can significantly reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers, and with proper care, many chronic conditions are controllable. Preventive care and regular screening are some of the easiest ways to detect problems at early stages, when the chances of successful treatment are highest. (Here are new recommended ages for important medical screenings.)

In addition to regularly visiting a doctor and adhering to recommended screenings and tests, a healthy diet and lifestyle – including being physically active, not smoking, and limiting alcohol intake – can help lower the risk of a wide range of diseases. But many of the most common ailments, including trauma-related ailments (like broken bones), allergic reactions, glaucoma, and auto-immune diseases may not be preventable. 

Asthma, the No. 1 ailment in the U.S., is not preventable – although a major contributing factor in the development of the condition is air pollution, which is structurally preventable. People who live in urban areas, where the air quality is likely worse, are more likely to have asthma. (Watch out if you live in one of America’s dirtiest cities in 2020.)

After asthma, the second most common category of ailments is mental disorders. According to a report from the Mental Health Million Project by the nonprofit Sapien Labs, 45% of people in the United States who have a clinical-level mental health problem don’t seek professional help. These findings hint that mental health problems may be more widespread than is widely acknowledged.

Click here to see the most common ailments in America
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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