The 6 Most Common Chronic Diseases in Adults

most common chronic diseases

Did you know that every 6 in 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease? Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States and the most preventable too.

It’s essential to learn about the most common chronic diseases and how they can affect you so that you can take better care of your health. Remember, it just takes a few simple lifestyle changes to make the biggest differences in your overall health.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of chronic diseases so you can start improving your health today!

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term that describes a group of conditions that affect your heart, like blood vessel disease and other conditions that include:

  • Problems with your heart rhythm
  • Congenital heart defects or heart defects you’re born with
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart infections

Heart disease has different causes depending on what heart condition you have. Coronary artery disease is due to a build-up of fatty plaque in your arteries. Other causes are your heart valves not functioning correctly due to infections or connective tissue disorders.

Heart arrhythmias are due to stress, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Heart infections are caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses reaching your heart muscle.

Depending on your heart condition, you may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or swelling in your legs or abdomen.

2. Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high and is one of the most common chronic diseases. Sugar, also called glucose, is your body’s main energy source. It mostly comes from the food you eat daily.

When you eat food, your pancreas produces insulin which helps the glucose get into the cells so your body can use it for energy. With diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or any insulin at all, so the glucose doesn’t reach your cells.

There are different types of diabetes which include:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make any insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make enough insulin
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after birth

Symptoms of diabetes usually include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and weight loss. The most common causes of diabetes are not exercising and being overweight. Seeing a doctor who specializes in natural and functional medicine can help you make positive lifestyle changes.

3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a chronic inflammatory disease of your lungs that restricts and obstructs normal airflow from your lungs. When you have COPD, you have a combination of conditions that include:


Emphysema occurs when the air sacs in your lungs are damaged, and as a result, they can’t absorb oxygen as well as they need to. These damaged air sacs cause your lungs to stretch and trap air in your lungs, causing you to feel short of breath.

Chronic Bronchitis

You have chronic bronchitis if you have shortness of breath, congestion, and coughing that lingers for at least three months for two consecutive years.

You have tiny thread-like fibers known as cilia that are located along your bronchial tubes, which help move mucus out on a regular basis. Chronic bronchitis causes you to lose these cilia, so you can’t get rid of the mucus as easily. 

Refractory Asthma

Refractory asthma is when you experience frequent asthma attacks and ongoing asthma symptoms even when you take asthma medications regularly.

Causes of COPD

Most people get COPD from smoking cigarettes long-term, but you can also get it from air pollution and workplace exposure to dust or smoke. 

There is no cure for COPD, but treatments can slow down the disease progression and control your symptoms for a period of time.

4. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common chronic disease in adults and occurs when the pressure against your blood vessel walls is too high. Pressure builds up when you have a narrowing of arteries that resist the blood that your heart pumps.

You can have two different types of high blood pressure; primary high blood pressure and secondary high blood pressure. Primary high blood pressure is the most common type due to aging and unhealthy lifestyle habits like not exercising and poor diet choices. 

Secondary high blood pressure typically results from medical problems like kidney disease or different hormonal problems.

Hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” because many people don’t have symptoms and aren’t aware of the damage it does to their bodies. Hypertension also causes other serious health conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney disease.

5. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

The main job of your kidneys is to filter waste and extra water from your blood and produce urine. Kidneys keep your body working by balancing minerals and salts in your body like sodium, potassium, and calcium.

They also produce hormones that make red blood cells, control your blood pressure, and keep your bones healthy and strong.

CKD occurs when your kidneys can’t filter blood normally and gradually lose function over time. Most people don’t notice symptoms during the early stages, but eventually, you’ll experience symptoms like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling of your ankles and feet
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Changes in urination

CKD occurs when a health condition or disease damages your kidneys. Typically this kidney damage comes from conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or frequent kidney infections.

6. Cancer

Cancer is a disease that causes certain cells in your body to grow uncontrollably. Typically, your cells grow and multiply when your body needs them, and old or damaged cells die, allowing new cells to take their place.

If this process is altered by cancer, your cells grow and multiply when they shouldn’t and eventually form tumors. Cancer is mostly caused by genetic changes that are either inherited or caused by damage to DNA from harmful substances like chemicals or cigarette smoking.

Cancer can start anywhere in your body, and the most common cancers are breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer. Blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are also common and affect the cells that make up your blood.

Cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer you have, but regular cancer screenings and living a healthy lifestyle are key in preventing cancer.

Talk to Your Doctor About the Most Common Chronic Diseases

Now that you know more about the most common chronic diseases, it’s important to talk to your doctor today about prevention.

If you’re looking for a doctor, it’s time to turn to Fairbanks Family Wellness. Our services include natural medicine, functional medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics. 

We also offer services in acupuncture and counseling and focus on treating the underlying problem instead of focusing on medications and surgical treatments.

Make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment!