Turns out, it’s not what you think. Chronic medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease do bring men and women to the doctor but not as often as other things. The most common reasons folks in the U.S. go to the doctor may surprise you, and skin is a huge player.
1. Skin disorders. Actinic keratosis, acne, and sebaceous cysts topped the list and brought the most men and women to their doc. Actinic keratosis is a skin condition caused by sun damage that causes scaly, rough, or bumpy spots on the skin. Sebaceous cysts are lumps beneath the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material. They are usually found on the face, neck, and trunk. Acne you already know.
2. Osteoarthritis and joint disorders, aka “joint pain” comes in right behind skin for bringing the most people to the doctor. This group feels overuse and activity injuries to the hips, knees, and shoulders and long-term pain in those joints requiring their doctors help.
3. Back problems. Back pain is not only incredibly common but the eighth most costly chronic condition in patients aged 18 to 40. Lumbar strain or sprain causing low back pain can be further divided into 3 problem areas: degenerative disease (arthritis,) discs, or facet joints.
4. Lipid/Cholesterol problems come in fourth place. People taking “statin” drugs to lower their cholesterol will come to their doctor for routine monitoring of liver function which helps bring them in to the office.
5. Cough, runny nose and sore throat are common and affect all age groups which brings it to a fifth place finish. Runny nose from allergies (allergic rhinitis) accounted for over half of the people in this category. Turns out 40 million Americans have allergic rhinitis and seek treatment for it.
8. High blood pressure comes in eighth place, which is reassuring because many folks with high blood pressure are not adequately treated and never reach their goal blood pressure.
9. Headaches, including migraines come in ninth. This common, chronic and disabling problem requires tight management and frequent visits to the doctor.
10. Adult onset diabetes is so much more common with our obesity epidemic yet comes in far behind skin and joint pain for bringing people to the doctor.
Bring it on skin and joints!
- Dr. O
File under: Expert Spotlight