The Most Googled Health Problem in Every State
Paging Dr. Google. According to Medicare Health Plans, these are the most Googled conditions in each state—from Alabama to Wyoming—and that can sometimes predict where outbreaks are going to happen next.
Looking at the health terms most searched on Google in all of 2018 can be a real an eye-opener. Not only has Birmingham been ranked one of the worst cities for respiratory infections, Alabama as a whole is one of the 10 states with the highest rates of death from influenza and pneumonia. While pneumonia can get very serious very fast, there are simple steps you can take to prevent getting it in the first place, from getting enough sleep to washing your hands regularly. Here’s how to know if you may have pneumonia and it’s time to call your doctor.
Alaska: Urinary tract infection (UTI)
While UTIs maybe be common in Alaska, one of the commonest cures for a painful urinary tract infection is cranberry juice—which could be made using Alaska’s very own highbush cranberries. Cranberries of all varieties contain hippuric acid, which fights the E. coli bacteria and prevents it from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract and from spreading from the bladder to the kidneys. Eating fresh-picked cranberries or taking pure cranberry supplements will also do the trick. If you like natural remedies like this, here are 10 more home remedies for curing a UTI.
Arizona: Hashimoto’s disease
Hashimoto’s disease—an autoimmune attack on your thyroid gland—is the primary cause of low thyroid in the United States. The condition can exist in your body for several years before you even experience symptoms. And even then, the average amount of time between the first signs and the actual diagnosis is a decade. Watch for the 12 signs of Hashimoto’s disease everyone should know.
Cramps, bloating, cravings for comfort foods—no one ever said periods would be fun. But how do you know if your menstrual pain and other symptoms are just averagely annoying or something more serious? If you have incredibly painful periods, bleed heavily, if it hurts to have sex, or if you experience any of these other silent signs, you could be suffering from endometriosis, a condition where cells that resemble those in the uterus grow elsewhere in the body, then also bleed and cause pain during your period. Read about the 15 things no one ever tells you about endometriosis.
The number of reported STD cases in California is not only up 45 percent from five years ago, the syphilis count alone is at a three-year high. Doctors blame lack of public health funding for safe-sex education and outreach, and they’re most concerned about the stillbirths caused by congenital syphilis, which are also at their highest since 1995. You can now test yourself for STDs at home—here’s how to do it. It goes without saying if you test positive, see your doctor immediately. Syphilis can be cured with the right dosage of penicillin; if left untreated, it can go dormant for up to 20 years but eventually can cause dementia, paralysis, organ damage, and death.
Google has another superpower—it can predict when and where the next big syphilis outbreak will occur. UCLA researchers found that certain search terms on Google or keywords in tweets on Twitter are highly correlated with the number of syphilis cases in a city or county. In other words, Coloradans (and Californians), you have extra incentive to practice safe sex. Learn about 14 more diseases you thought were gone—but aren’t.
Connecticut: Quarter-life crisis
According to the website The Muse, “a quarter-life crisis is a period of intense soul searching and stress occurring in your mid-20s to early 30s,” and people who struggle with this tend to be very ambitious and intelligent. If anxiety about your career and life direction is keeping you up at night, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Finding ways to manage these worries now may help you avoid a mid-life crisis down the road. Here’s how to find a therapist, according to a therapist.
You might know it as high blood pressure, and it’s as much an issue for your head as it is for your heart. Scientists are now saying that hypertension could dramatically raise your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When your heart rate is elevated, it can cause strain and damage to the blood vessels in your brain cells. If you’re worried you might have hypertension, try one of these 31 ways to lower your blood pressure.
Miami isn’t all sun-soaked beaches and vibrant cafe culture—it’s also the city with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS cases in the country. One reason for the virus’s spread across Florida is the state’s booming tourism industry, which draws millions each year to its rampant party scene—and the drugs (and infected needles) that accompany it. And it’s not just Florida: Almost half of all people living with HIV in the United States live in the southern states.
Sensing a pattern? Syphilis rates across the country are the highest they’ve been in years—and health experts attribute the rise in part to apps like Tinder and Grindr, which facilitate high-risk hookups. Both Tinder and Grindr are now adding sexual health safety tips to their menus.
Hawaii: Hashimoto’s disease
Be wary of sushi and other fish in your poke bowl, Hawaiians, especially if the autoimmune thyroid condition Hashimoto’s disease is a concern. According to doctors, consuming foods with high mercury can cause the body to store mercury in place of iodine, and low iodine levels can prevent your thyroid from producing enough hormones. Typically, larger fish—like tuna, swordfish, shark, and orange roughy—have higher levels of mercury, so stick to smaller fish like salmon just a few times a week. Besides fish, read about 8 additional foods thyroid experts recommend avoiding.
Idaho: E. coli
Remember the massive romaine lettuce recall earlier this year? The leafy green was blamed for a major Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak. Idaho was one of the states hit the hardest. Washing your lettuce or spinach isn’t a guarantee you’ll be safe, but a rinse that includes one part water and one part white vinegar can help kill the bacteria.
Syphilis can have serious—and even fatal—consequences. If left untreated, this bacteria can attack your brain’s optic nerve, resulting in permanent blindness. Or it can spread to your spinal cord which can affect your muscles (to the point of paralysis); it may cause meningitis. Prevention is the best “cure.” Here’s everything you need to know about STDs so you can protect yourself—it could save your life.
Indiana has the fourth-highest rate of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the United States. Across the entire country, 6.4 million kids have been diagnosed with it—but it isn’t just children who are affected: 4 percent of adults deal with ADHD as well. Think you might have ADHD? Here are the silent signs you might be ignoring.
Iowa: Binge drinking
According to a report by the United Health Foundation, Iowans are the sixth worst state when it comes to binge drinking; 21 percent of people between the ages of 20 to 64 admit that they drink to excess. Here are 7 signs you’re drinking dangerously too much.
The number one cause of death in Kansas is heart disease, so it’s no surprise that so many residents are worried about diabetes and how to prevent it—the two conditions are closely related: 65 percent of people with diabetes later go on to develop heart disease. If you’re worried about your own health, try incorporating into your everyday life these 21 habits (proven by science!) that can reduce your risk of diabetes.
Kentucky: Hepatitis A
In Kentucky, every student is now required to get the hepatitis A vaccine. Why? The state suffered the worst outbreak of the virus in the entire country. Over 1,000 cases of this liver disease (and eight related deaths) were recorded last year. How do you know if you have hepatitis A? Think of it like the flu, but worse; symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and yellowing of the whites of your eyes.
When it comes to HIV/AIDS in the United States, the state of Louisiana has the second highest incidence of AIDS and the third highest rate of HIV infections in the country. The numbers have decreased slightly in the last couple of years, but public health officials worry the downtick is temporary, given the quickly growing opioid crisis. (HIV is easily spread through shared needles.)
While there haven’t been any cases of human rabies in Maine since 1937, residents are concerned about the viral disease in the state lately due to four rabid fox attacks in three weeks. Rabies is almost always fatal—and an animal doesn’t have to be foaming at the mouth to have it. So if you or your kids come into contact with a wild animal, err on the side of caution and get to a doctor immediately.
A fascinating breakthrough in ADHD treatment is a form of mind control: With an EEG detector (a device that measures electrical activity in the brain), kids can play video games just by controlling their brain waves. The goal is to help retrain their brain to focus better. While researchers are still studying the technique, they hope it will give children—and their parents—an alternative to prescription medication.
Did you know that boys are three times more likely to have ADHD than girls? Scientists have yet to discover the reason for this; boys and girls actually learn differently, too—here’s why. There are other factors besides gender that can increase a child’s risk for ADHD, as well, including the education level of the parents, a family history of ADHD, and smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy.
A recent study from by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that endometriosis and sexual abuse may be linked: Women abused as a child or teen were up to 79 percent more likely to suffer endometriosis (a painful disorder that affects the uterus) later in life. Tragedy, multiplied: Michigan has the sixth highest rate of childhood sexual abuse in the United States. Learn what it’s like to live with endometriosis from this woman’s moving firsthand account.
Chances are you’ve had hemorrhoids and didn’t know it. In fact, the small swollen veins in the rectum and anus affect three out of four American adults at some point in their lives. They’re usually caused by straining during bowel movements and can be easily treated and prevented at home by eating more fiber, taking a magnesium supplement, soaking in a sitz bath, and being patient when you’re on the toilet. Make sure you’re avoiding these 10 other mistakes you could be making in the bathroom.
Mississippi: Genital herpes
Head’s up engaged parties in this state: An appeals court ruled that under the “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” law, not telling your spouse that you have herpes is grounds for divorce. It may sound harsh, but it makes sense, especially given that there is currently no cure for the STD. Be aware that condoms are less effective in preventing STDs that are passed through skin-to-skin contact, such as syphilis, herpes, and HPV. Discover 13 more facts about STDs that could save your life.
Imagine having a serious disorder that affects every part of your life—but not getting the help you need for it. That’s what’s happening to the 23 percent of kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Not treating ADHD in children can negatively impact their life as an adult, making them more prone to illegal drug use and crime because of lack of impulse control. It can also hurt their job performance and increase their chances of divorce.
This one is a puzzler: One of the most effective ways to treat (or prevent) hypertension is exercise, and residents of Montana have loads of stunning places to hike. All it takes to strengthen your cardiovascular system and help it work more efficiently is the minimum recommended 10-minute brisk walk each day. So, what gives, Montanans? The conundrum begins to make more sense when you learn the condition is more common than average in the state’s urban dwellers but less common than average in the state’s suburban and rural folks.
For most of us, shedding a few pounds could be good for our health, but in some it’s an urge that can be taken too far. One in 20 Americans will suffer from an eating disorder—like anorexia or bulimia—in their lifetime. If you think you (or someone you know) may have an eating disorder, these are the silent signs to look for.
Nevada: Skin cancer
Residents of the Silver State watch out: 790 Nevadans were diagnosed with melanoma last year. And 80 of those cases resulted in death. Nevada’s hot desert sun delivers some of the highest ultraviolet radiation levels in the country, meaning residents need to be especially careful when they’re outside. Smear on sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and visit the dermatologist at least once a year. Watch out for these 7 skin cancer symptoms.
New Hampshire: ADHD
Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute recently made an intriguing discovery: They studied the brains of four- and five-year-olds and found that those with ADHD had less brain volume in the cerebral cortex surrounding the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. If the findings are confirmed, they may provide a way to start earlier treatment for the condition. In the meantime, here are five ADHD symptoms to look for in a toddler.
New Jersey: Breast cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, New Jersey ranks among the top 10 states for incidence of breast cancer. Don’t miss these 50 everyday habits that can lower your risk of breast cancer.
New Mexico: PTSD
We tend to think that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is primarily a problem for members of the military, but you don’t have to have served overseas to suffer from this mental health issue. Any serious trauma—and over 50 percent of the population will experience one (anything from a car accident to a natural disaster)—can trigger this syndrome. And it’s more common in women; it’s just one of 15 diseases that strike women more than men.
New York: Breast cancer
This dreaded cancer targets one in eight American women, so it’s hardly a surprise that it turns up on the most-Googled list. What’s upsetting is that only about 6 percent of women eligible for breast cancer gene testing currently get the screen, according to new research published in JAMA. The test is key because it can not only help these women be on alert and potentially catch the disease earlier, but it can steer them toward effective treatment. If you’re concerned about your genetic risk, push your doctor to get this life-saving test. Read about how this woman had her DNA tested—and it changed everything.
North Carolina: ADHD
While the condition is technically a learning disability, ADHD can be a boon for some people: One beneficial aspect of the disorder is hyperfocus—the ability to intensely hone in on an interest. This can boost creativity and productivity when it comes to work you like.
North Dakota: Ear infection
Think twice before lending your headphones to your coworker or handing an earbud to your friend to listen together to your favorite song. Sharing headphones can actually lead to ear infections because it can transfer any bacteria from your ears to the other person’s. And the more you use earphones, the more bacteria can build up in your ears.
Rabbits may one day provide the answer to syphilis. Using a recently identified protein of the syphilis bacteria T. pallidum, Scientists at the University of Connecticut created antibodies for the protein and tested a new vaccine in rabbits that might one day prevent infection in humans. Currently, there are only three STDs that can be prevented with a vaccine: HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.
All that delicious fried food that Midwestern fairs are known for (here’s where to find the best) unfortunately isn’t helping anyone win the fight against diabetes, especially if you eat it often. Eating fried food four times a week can increase your chances of having type 2 diabetes by almost 39 percent. That’s because the oil that fried food is cooked in (especially if it contains trans fats) induces chronic inflammation, which is thought to be at the root of most chronic diseases, including diabetes. Meet the doctor who is reversing diabetes, one patient at a time.
Prevention or treatment? That’s the big debate surrounding HIV/AIDS in the health community. While there’s a drug on the market that could potentially eliminate the AIDS epidemic in America, it’s way too expensive for most people. The pill, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is up to 99 percent effective at preventing HIV. The hitch is that it will cost over $1,600 per month. If you think that’s pricey, check out the 11 most expensive drugs in the U.S.
Honesty is the best policy, especially when you’re at the doctor’s office. However, a study by Quest Diagnostics found that teen girls and young women are tight-lipped about their sexual health in front of their doctor—and that reserve could be harming their health. Only 56 percent of women between the ages 18-24 who are sexually active have been tested for STDs, primarily because they either are too embarrassed or don’t have any symptoms.
Rhode Island: Lupus
Lupus, an autoimmune disease affecting 1.5 million Americans, isn’t something you hear about every day. Surveys indicate that 73 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 know nothing or very little about the condition. Combine a lack of knowledge with confusing symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and joint pain, and you can see why lupus is difficult to diagnose. It takes sufferers an average of six years from the time they first notice symptoms to get treatment.
South Carolina: Endometriosis
Hope may be on the horizon for those Googling endometriosis: The Food and Drug Administration just approved a new medication to help women manage the severe pain associated with endometriosis, a condition of the uterus that currently has no cure. Elagolix, set to arrive in pharmacies sometime in August, may offer relief to the one in 10 American women who suffer from this painful condition.
South Dakota: Insomnia
No one has made Sleepless in South Dakota yet. Perhaps it should be sleepless in America: The Sleep Health Foundation reported that 1 in 3 people suffer from at least mild insomnia. FYI: It should only take you about 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep—any longer than that, and there may be something wrong. Is it something you’re doing; here are the mistakes you might be making that cause those nights of tossing and turning.
Tennessee: Strep throat
Talk about a serious sore throat: Last year in Tennessee, a woman contracted an incredibly aggressive strain of streptococcus that systemically attacked her entire body, sending her into septic shock. She survived, but she lost several of her fingers and toes. While extreme cases like this are rare, strep throat is still a major concern—and the bacteria is evolving to resist treatment. Watch for symptoms including nausea, fever, and headaches in addition to a sore throat.
Texting, tweeting, streaming media—all these activities can more than double a teen’s risk of developing ADHD, according to a study published in JAMA. (Mindless things like binge-watching videos or scrolling through your Instagram feed are the biggest culprits.) The average American spends almost 11 hours a day staring at a screen, so it may not come as a surprise that ADHD isn’t the only iPhone-related problem; here are 15 other ways your technology could be making you sick.
Utah: Hashimoto’s disease
Hashimoto’s disease is not the same thing as hypothyroidism: They’re similar, sure, and often occur at the same time, but they’re still different issues. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid is underproducing the key hormones—triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). With Hashimoto’s disease, the antibodies in your immune system attack your thyroid, damaging it so that it can’t make enough of the necessary hormones. These are some of the most common signs of a thyroid problem.
Vermont: Opioid use disorder
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Vermont has the highest rate of babies born with opioid-related diseases—33 per 1,000 births. They are the innocent victims of the opioid crisis, as more and more Americans are becoming addicted to pain medication. If you’re prescribed pain pills, ask your doctor these 13 critical questions first.
ADHD medication has been in the news—it seems more and more college students are taking prescriptions meds designed for ADHD, like Ritalin and Adderall, to help them study. Although the meds can improve focus and concentration in people with ADHD, they won’t help students without the brain disorder in the same way, according to research. In fact, the so-called “study drugs” may actually harm non-ADHD users, impairing their problem-solving ability and memory.
Washington: Body dysmorphia
Everyone has the occasional day when the mirror is the enemy. But if you’re obsessing about your perceived flaws and it haunts you every minute of every day, you may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which afflicts more than 5 million Americans. It’s treatable—it just takes regular therapy sessions. Here’s how to know if you need help.
West Virginia: Porn addiction
Ahem: Porn gets more views in a month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. The world’s fastest growing industry is only getting bigger—and becoming even more of a problem. Porn addiction can take over a sufferer’s life; even worse, watching too many videos online can actually change the structure of the brain. Check out these other 15 things that can rewire your brain.
You really are what you eat—especially when it comes to ADHD. For children, eating foods high in protein can improve focus and strengthen the neurons in the brain. Also, protein helps the body absorb medications—like the kind taken for ADHD—faster and easier. Shifting a kid’s diet away from refined sugar and flours and filling their plate with more protein and high-fiber complex carbohydrates may eliminate some ADHD symptoms simply by stabilizing blood sugar levels. While the brain relies on glucose as its main energy source, too much can actually disrupt proper brain function.
“It’s just the flu.” That’s a sentiment you won’t hear in Wyoming, where the number of flu-related deaths (27) nearly doubled during the 2018 season. Last winter’s flu vaccine was meant to guard against a strain of the influenza virus that mutated, making the vaccine less effective. So should you still get a flu shot? Here’s what you need to know.