Get answers to the most common questions about health.
What are the most common health problems people have?
The five most common health issues:
Physical Activity: Staying active can really improve your overall health, even if you are active for only a short period of time each day. As little as 20 minutes of heart-pumping movement can really improve your overall health.
Overweight / Obesity: Even having “a few extra pounds” can lead to serious health conditions. Excessive weight has been linked to some of the most common illnesses and conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and respiratory problems, among others.
Tobacco Use: This is one that everybody knows, but a lot of people still ignore. There is no redeeming value to using tobacco, and it has been associated with all kinds of disease, including dozens of cancers.
Substance Abuse: Whether it’s just one drink too many, a handful of prescription pills, or illegal drug use, there is a growing epidemic of substance abuse in the United States. This can be deliberate, or it might be unintentional, such as by mixing up or taking prescriptions that interact poorly together.
Mental Health: People who are physically hurt or ill often get sympathy and support, but in many cases mental health problems go undiagnosed because people are afraid to acknowledge that something may be wrong or that they need help. Depression is the most common mental health condition, but there are many other types of mental illness as well.
What’s the difference between a health issue and a safety hazard?
One of the major differences between health issues and safety hazards is that every individual’s health is different, based on genetic factors, medical history, and environmental factors. Safety hazards are potentially dangerous for everyone, such as using a device that can malfunction regardless of who is using it, or taking a drug that can affect anyone in a potentially hazardous way.
Not everyone will be affected by every safety hazard. For example, some people may take a blood thinner without any problems, while others might wind up bleeding to death because their body is no longer able to clot wounds naturally. Just because some people do not experience the negative effects of a safety hazard, that does not mean the hazard does not exist. Safety hazards still pose risk to anyone who uses an unsafe product, drug, medical device, or food.
Some health issues can be overcome or managed through a change in diet, lifestyle, environment, other factor, such as by discontinuing use of a certain product. In that sense, it is possible in some cases for people to improve their health by removing the safety hazard or addressing the issues it is causing.
What are the best ways to improve my health?
No matter how healthy you are, everyone has something they could be working on to improve their health. Here are a few quick examples of how to take your health to the next level.
Sleep: Most people do not get enough sleep. While there is no set amount of sleep that each person should be getting, if you are constantly tired and feel fatigued, then you probably need to get a little more shut-eye. Remove the electronic devices from your bedroom, and cultivate a nightly routine to help you. If you still can’t find a way to get enough sleep, talk to your doctor.
Drink Water: Too many people drink sugary drinks – including added sugar in coffee and natural sugar in fruit juices, not to mention soda, sports drinks, “energy” drinks, and alcohol. Start drinking more water and eating foods with high water content to cut back on those empty calories and keep your hydration level up.
Eat Vegetables: Everyone knows they need to eat more vegetables, but few people actually do it. Not only do vegetables tend to have higher water content than other foods (see above), but they are filled with the dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals necessary to keep our bodies in tip-top shape. “Cruciferous” vegetables like dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and related foods are the best, but really just increasing your overall vegetable intake is the best. Stay away from the starchier items, like potatoes and corn.
Cardio Exercise: The only type of exercise that has been connected to longer life is whatever gets the heart pumping. The best studies show that about 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of cardio per week is optimal, but you can break that down however you want: 22 minutes every day, 30 minutes 5 days out of the week, or 50 minutes 3 days of the week are all good options.
Mindfulness: Activities that calm the mind have been shown to have positive effects on the body as well, by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and improving overall productivity and body function. These activities can include meditation, yoga, tai chi, or similar practices.
Daily practice is recommended, but if you can’t do it daily, then establishing a regular routine is still important.
What products should I avoid for health reasons?
Many products, foods, drugs, and medical devices are generally safe, so long as they are used in according with the instructions on their labels and any warnings that they may contain. However, certain items can become a danger to your health in certain circumstances:
- Improper use (i.e., against instructions and warnings)
- Contamination with an allergen, toxic substance, or some other material
- Malfunction due to engineering or manufacturing defects
ConsumerSafety.org provides information about recalls and safety notices to help individuals know more about the various ways that products, drugs, medical devices, and foods may be unsafe. You can search for specific topics or browse our alerts to learn more about these items.