Why People REALLY Go to the Doctor

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.

6. Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders. Mood disorders are a common cause of disability in young people and are the sixth most common reason people visit their doctor.

7. Chronic neurologic disorders. Dementia and Parkinson’s have become more common with our aging population and bring many people to the doc.

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


Dr. Sharon Orrange

Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC/Keck School of Medicine and completed residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, Dr. Orrange is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the USC/Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Orrange spends part of her time as the Attending Physician for medical students and residents during their medicine rotations at LA County-USC Medical Center and USC University Hospital. She also has an active private practice in General Internal Medicine and is board certified in Internal Medicine.

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