The world is plagued by diseases in every corner. Some are caused by micro-organisms living with us in the environment, some are a consequence of poor lifestyle while others are a result of cellular degeneration that occurs due to aging.
Millions of people die from disease every year, even with the advanced healthcare systems we put in place and great research in science and medicine. Of course, not all diseases are created equal, some are more deadly than others. Here are the top 10 fatal diseases in the world that you should be aware of.
10. Infectious diseases
Infectious diseases are the conditions caused by pathogens that find their way into our bodies. These pathogens include viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Some of these pathogens are transmitted by hosts inform of insects and animals. Other pathogens occur in the environment and we introduce them in our bodies by consuming contaminated food and water.
Infectious diseases share flu-like symptoms. There are so many infectious diseases as there are micro-organisms. Some of the most fatal infectious diseases ravaging the world today are chickenpox, measles, malaria, common cold, cholera, dengue fever, and zika virus. They are responsible for millions of deaths every year.
Influenza is the seasonal flu affecting the world every year in outbreaks of about 3 to 5 million cases resulting in 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. It attacks your respiratory system and when infected you will exhibit the following symptoms; high fever, headache, coughing, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle, and joint aches. It is caused by up to 4 different types of influenza viruses known as Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D that evolve into new strains very rapidly. It is spread through the air in moist particles when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The influenza is punishing to children and older people because of their weaker immune systems. It is also lethal on people who have underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cardiac diseases. Influenza virologists study the direction of evolution of the viruses and environmental factors to develop new effective vaccines for influenza every flu season.
Tuberculosis otherwise known as TB is the world’s most infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It is spread through the air when people with TB sneeze, cough or spit. Classic symptoms of the disease include; fever, night sweats, chronic and persistent cough, and weight loss.
People can suffer from latent TB this means that they have the bacteria in their respiratory tract but they can’t get sick from it neither can they spread it. The active disease would kill up to half of those infected because it is usually resistant to multiple drugs. TB can be prevented through vaccination. Approximately 1.6 million people die from B every year. The most vulnerable groups are those who suffer from HIV/AIDS and those who smoke.
Known as infectious diarrhea or stomach flu, Gastroenteritis is usually caused by viruses but it may also be caused by bacteria, parasites, and fungus. Symptoms of the disease include; abdominal pain caused by inflammation of the gut, stomach and the intestines and dehydration due to vomiting and chronic diarrhea.
In 2015 alone, it was the cause of 1.3 million deaths worldwide, a majority of who were children under the age of 5. People normally get this infection by drinking contaminated water and eating dirty or improperly prepared food. Make sure to drink clean water and if you suffer from it stay hydrated through oral rehydration solutions.
Bronchitis is caused most by viral infections and sometimes bacteria that target the airways. It is characterized by inflammation in the bronchi that blocks the normal flow of air into and out of the lungs and this causes coughing, wheezing, chest pains and shortness of breath.
There are two types of bronchitis, acute bronchitis that lasts only about 3 to 4 weeks and chronic bronchitis that last for three months or more depending on its severity. About 5% of adults and 6% of children are affected by the disease every year. Those most at risk are smokers and people living in places where the air is significantly polluted. To keep off viral infections that cause bronchitis, make sure to wash your hands frequently.
Diabetes is a state of prolonged high sugar levels in the blood. It occurs when not enough insulin is produced to regulate the levels of glucose in the body, this is referred to as Type 1 Diabetes. It also occurs when cells in the body fail to respond to insulin and this is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes and it is the most rampant.
Type 1 Diabetes is managed through the administering of insulin injections at intervals or when blood sugar levels fall catastrophically low. Type 2 Diabetes, on the other hand, is treated with medications that prime the body to respond to insulin. Approximately 3.2 to 5 million people died of diabetes in 2017 alone. The disease can be prevented through a balanced diet, physical exercise and maintaining healthy body weight.
Cirrhosis is a disease caused by damage or dysfunction of the liver due to prolonged consumption of alcohol or infection from Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses. Early symptoms include weakness and weight loss and as the disease progresses it can cause itching and swelling of the lower legs, yellow skin that bruises easily and fluid build-up in the abdomen.
In severe cases, cirrhosis can lead to bleeding of dilated veins in the esophagus and even liver cancer. The disease can be prevented by vaccination from the viruses causing it and it can be treated through antiviral medications. About 1.3 million people died of cirrhosis in 2015. Health experts continue to discourage alcohol abuse as the first prevention measure.
Stroke is generally caused by poor blood flow to certain parts of the brain. The cells that are not nourished die as a result. Poor blood flow can be caused by blood clots or blocked blood vessels, this is referred to as ischemic stroke. It can also be caused by bleeding in a part of the brain and this is referred to as haemorrhagic stroke.
People who suffer stroke would have impaired mobility in the arms and legs, impaired speech, impaired vision and cognitive problems that may affect one or both sides of the body. They may also suffer severe headaches and loss of control in the bladder. About two-thirds of strokes occur with people above 65 years of age. About 795,000 people suffer stroke every year and 10% to 20% of these cases are fatal.
Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that spreads all over the body. It appears in the form of lumps or tumors that are fatal to normal physiological functions. There are over 100 types of cancers that affect humans depending on the location and group of cells that are involved and how they manifest and spread.
Cancerous cells can be inherited genetically and triggered in the course of one’s lifetime by factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, substance use, pollution form the environment and adverse exposure to ionizing radiation such as x-rays and gamma rays. In cancer treatment, the malignant tumors are usually removed through surgery and the remaining cancer cells killed through radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Cancer cases have risen tremendously in the past few decades. This has been attributed largely to environmental pollution and an increase in the consumption of processed foods. Today, cancer is the leading cause of death after heart disease. Approximately 10 million people die of cancer every year.