Of all the conditions endured by humanity, nothing puts us at dis-ease like disease. Thinking about it, worrying about it, changing habits to avoid it, and doing everything we can to reduce the symptoms of it, disease can easily take over our lives. And nothing reflects that idea quite like Google: the cheapest, most accessible “doctor” around.
Whether it’s out of morbid curiosity or outright concern, we all google physical ailments from time to time, hoping it’s nothing serious. So for science (and a tiny bit of nosiness), we’ve compiled a list of the most googled diseases in all 50 states.
We began by using Google Trends. Looking at each state (and Washington, DC) over the past year, we compiled every disease according to search popularity. The result is our list of the most googled disease for every state.
Interesting correlations and key findings
If there’s just one idea we should take from these findings, it’s that heart disease deserves a bit more attention. As the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease is kinda like aging: we know it happens, but deny it’ll ever happen to us. Yet only Maine claims “most googled” for this disease (way to go, Maine!). Fun fact—according to the Mayo Clinic, many forms of heart disease can be mitigated or even prevented entirely with healthy lifestyle choices.1
Here are some other interesting correlations we found:
- HPV (human papillomavirus), the most common sexually transmitted infection, is the most googled disease in the United States (one could say it’s “gone viral”).
- Heart disease is the deadliest disease in the United States but one of the least googled.
- Relapsing polychondritis isn’t just a great band name—it’s also a rare inflammatory disease that Illinois (and ONLY Illinois) is obsessed with.
- Lyme disease is one of the most googled diseases in Maine, which had an all-time high record number of Lyme disease cases in the state in 2017.2
- The second-most googled diseases are diabetes and celiac disease, which also have a good deal of overlap in patients.
- With high altitude and recreational marijuana, breathing can get difficult in Colorado. Interestingly, their most googled disease is asthma, a condition which also makes breathing difficult.
- Delaware’s most googled disease is liver disease. One cause of liver disease can be high alcohol consumption, in which Delaware also ranks third per capita in the US.3
(a.k.a., our plea for you to get a physical from your doctor, not Google.)
Google is a great source of information, but it doesn’t have the diagnostic power of your primary care physician. We recommend, whenever possible, that you consult a living and breathing doctor for your health concerns. After all, doctors go through eight years of school plus a three- to seven-year residency. Google doesn’t have any formal education (yet).
Plus doctors can give you a heads up about lifestyle changes you can make to avoid some of the more preventable diseases (like heart disease). They could also vaccinate you for the most googled disease, HPV, provided you are under 26 (if female) or under 21 (if male).4
What are your thoughts about our results? Did you see any interesting correlations? Are you making a doctor appointment after reading this? Let us know in the comments!
1. Mayo Clinic, “Heart Disease”
2. WGME, “Maine Is the Worst State in the Country for Lyme Disease, Study Says”
3. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Apparent Alcohol Consumption in the United States”
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen”
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