Humans have been battling with various communicable as well as non-communicable diseases since the ancient times.
The advancement of medical knowledge and technology has enabled the world to develop antiviral, antibiotics, vaccines and other methods to prevent and treat a large majority of these diseases.
According to the WHO report, there has been a decrease in the number of deaths due to infectious diseases like malaria and HIV as well better awareness amongst people about the risks of non-communicable diseases such as lung cancer, cardiovascular problems and more.
But while things have generally improved, there are still diseases affecting and killing a substantial amount of population every year. These include traditional infectious diseases, new emerging infections, and non- communicable diseases.
Here are the top most common diseases killing people over the globe:
1. Coronary Artery Disease
Also known as ischemic heart disease, this condition occurs when the supply of oxygen to the heart is affected. This happens as the arteries get choked up due to the accumulation of cholesterol on their walls.
Coronary heart disease is mostly the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Diet high in fatty foods, sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise and obesity are the reasons people get this disease.
Even though it is largely preventable, around 7.25 million people die from it every year making it the leading cause of death among humans.
Malaria is a deadly disease that is spread among humans via mosquito bites. It is caused by a parasite which the female Anopheles mosquito carries and enters the human body when the mosquito bites.
These parasites multiply rapidly inside the bloodstream and cause a number of problems like fever, muscle aches, chills etc. If proper treatment is not provided, it can lead to death.
Malaria is a common problem in Southeast Asia, South America and parts of Africa, killing about 1 million people every year; few cases every year are also reported in developed countries. The only way to prevent it is to keep yourself safe from mosquito bites and getting rid of breeding grounds near your home.
Stroke, or as it is known in medical terms as cerebrovascular disease, is caused when the blood flow to the brain gets interrupted. This can happen, either due to the bursting of the blood vessel or due to blockage of the blood vessels.
When the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted, the brain does not get sufficient oxygen. Lack of oxygen causes the cells in the brain to start dying, thus causing permanent damage.
More than 6 million people die of stroke each year even though it is largely preventable. Regular exercising and dieting can lead to a healthier lifestyle which can easily reduce the chances of people getting a stroke.
4. HIV – AIDS
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the immune system of humans and destroys a type of white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infection.
As this virus progresses, it makes the immune system weaker, eventually leading to AIDS which is the last stage of HIV.
Although recent awareness about the disease, prevention methods like using condoms during sex as well access to treatments like antiretroviral treatment have greatly reduced the number of people dying because of it, it is still killing a lot of people.
Globally, 1.2 million people die every year due to HIV – AIDS with the majority of the people belonging to Sub – Saharan Africa. More measures are being adopted to complete WHO’s target of eliminating the disease altogether.
You might think it a recent infection but, the first incidence of Ebola outbreak was reported in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recently, there was an outbreak in West Africa in 2014 which was the largest till date.
The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which, if left untreated, can be deadly. It can spread among human via direct contact with blood and other fluids, or from the tissue of infected human or animal.
Symptoms of Ebola include fever fatigue, muscle ache and sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. There are currently no vaccines available.
Although the outbreak of 2014 – 2016 was concentrated mainly in West Africa, there is a possibility it could become a global epidemic in future due to its contagious nature.
Diabetes is a condition when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or the body is unable to utilize the insulin the pancreas produces to regulate blood sugar levels in the body.
With rising income and prosperity, the incidence of diabetes has been increasing globally, especially in high-income countries. But, while there are more cases of diabetes in high-income countries, it is the people in low and middle-income countries that are most commonly killed by it.
According to WHO, 1.5 million people globally, die because of diabetes every year. This number was 4.6 million in 2016. Even though easily preventable and reversible, diabetes is still the 7thleading cause of death in America.
7. Zika Virus
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that was first recorded in humans in 1952 in Uganda. The latest outbreak was in Brazil in 2015, where it was connected to microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
In 2016, WHO declared Zika a global public health emergency. While it is not in itself fatal, it can cause microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome which can be a serious health concern. This is because it can lead to underdeveloped brains in babies which causes developmental delays and even death.
Zika spreads through sexual intercourse and from mother to her unborn child. Symptoms of Zika include joint pain, headache, conjunctivitis, and mild fever. There are currently no vaccines available against it.
8. Diarrheal Diseases
An occasional bout of diarrhea is something almost everyone has experiences at least once in their lifetime. It involves irregular bowel movements that lead to excretion of liquid stools for 2 – 3 days.
Diarrhea is caused due to an imbalance in bacteria diversity of the gut, eating stale or spoiled food or ingesting bacteria in your body through other means such as by drinking unclean water.
But when this disease continues on for 4 weeks or more, it is termed as chronic diarrhea and can be fatal for children living in impoverished conditions. Chronic diarrhea leads to loss of water and electrolytes from your body and therefore needs to replenished immediately.
Due to lack of access to safe water and food as well as ignorance about the disease, diarrheal diseases have claimed about 2.46 million lives each year, most of them children.
9. Trachea, Bronchus, and Lung Cancers
Uncontrolled growth of cells that spread around the body is the reason why people get cancer. Cancer accounts for 13% of all global deaths, according to WHO. But, lung, trachea, and bronchus cancers are the leading causes of deaths in cancer patients.
More people die from lung cancer than from any other cancer form. Nearly 80% of lung cancer is directly connected to smoking. Other causes of such high lung cancer numbers could be rising pollution and toxicity in the air.
When you breathe in all that toxic air, it harms your respiratory system and can lead to cancer in extreme cases. Around 1.6 million people die of this form cancer every year.
10. Lower Respiratory Infections
Lower respiratory infections or LRIs account for nearly 3.1 million deaths worldwide, each year. These infections include pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and others.
2012 WHO report documented that 1 out of every 100 deaths caused by LRIs were among children below 15 years of age. About 1.5 million children below the age of 5 died due either pneumonia or tuberculosis in third world countries.
Lower respiratory infections are caused due to pollution of indoor and outdoor air, burning of solid fuels like wood and tobacco smoke. Vaccines are available to prevent pneumonia and influenza, two of the most common lower respiratory infections.