You Didn’t Know These Diseases Could Actually Be Deadly

We live in an age of Purell, OSHA, industrial sanitation guidelines, and the FDA. Things are cleaner and more sanitary than they’ve ever been, and life expectancies are longer as well. Technology and modern medicine have created an environment in which we can live longer, happier lives — even with a debilitating disease or illness. But we’re still quite vulnerable to diseases from all kinds of sources, and if we don’t take action or seek treatment, we can end up dying from an otherwise preventable cause.

Chronic disease is still the leading cause of death for Americans — specifically, heart disease and cancers. But if you look back just a generation or two, you’ll see many diseases among the leading causes of death that have been eradicated, or at least shoved to the back of the queue. Typically, we don’t worry about polio, smallpox, or malaria in the United States anymore.

But that wasn’t always the case. And there are still numerous deadly maladies you can contract at almost any time. With treatment, most are manageable. It’s when you ignore them or don’t take them seriously that otherwise non-life-threatening illnesses can become fatal. Here are seven diseases that, when not treated, can kill you.

1. Measles

A boy gets a Measles vaccination, stopping a deadly disease in its tracks

A boy gets a Measles vaccination, stopping a deadly disease in its tracks. | David McNaw/Getty Images

If you’re still afraid of vaccinations, it’s time to cross over to reality and get your kid to a doctor. In the wake of the anti-vaccination push, many children are now exposed to unnecessary risks when going to school. One of those risks is measles, a disease largely eradicated or suppressed in modern America. But outbreaks are happening, and they can kill.

2. Syphilis

A health awareness poster from the 40s warns about Syphilis

A health awareness poster from the ’40s warns about Syphilis. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The dreaded STD syphilis, which is spread via a bacterium in bodily fluids, can be deadly if not treated. Typically, syphilis can be dealt with promptly and effectively with modern treatments. It’s when you ignore it that things get ugly.

3. Lyme disease

Nymph ticks, carriers of Lyme Disease

Nymph ticks are carriers of Lyme disease. | Getty Images

Another disease caused by a bacterial infection and typically spread by ticks, Lyme Disease can leave you feeling like hell with headaches, fevers, rashes, and more. If left untreated, infections can actually spread to your internal organs and nervous system, creating a whole host of new problems. Eventually, it may kill you. The cure is a track of antibiotics, though a bout with the illness is no fun at all.

4. Lupus

Entertainers attend a Walk to End Lupus in L.A.

Entertainers attend the Walk to End Lupus in L.A. | Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Lupus Foundation of America

Lupus isn’t an illness most people worry about, but it’s out there, and even celebrities come down with a case now and then. It’s a chronic autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack itself and leaves nasty rashes and other physical signs. The worst part is there isn’t a cure, but there are numerous treatment options that can help keep it under control. If left alone, though, it can be fatal.

5. Psoriasis

A patient uses an alternative method to treat Psoriasis -- fish

A patient uses an alternative method to treat psoriasis — fish. | Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Psoriasis might just look like a gnarly skin condition, but like so many other nasty illnesses, if you are reluctant to act when symptoms appear, you might end up paying for it with your life. While it usually just requires some visits to a doctor and standard treatments, psoriasis can neutralize your body’s immune system and leave you vulnerable to infection — which is what ends up killing some patients.

6. Asthma

 an asthma inhaler is seen dispensing a dose of drug

An inhaler is needed for asthma patients. | Getty Images

Asthma is a fairly common condition and is easily treatable and controllable with certain drugs. Patients usually have their inhalers handy and simply avoid environmental triggers to steer clear of any complications. But it’s a serious problem, and failure to treat it as such can be fatal. More than 3,600 people die from asthma in the United States every year.

7. Parkinson’s disease

The feet of Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease

The feet of Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. | Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

We know some famous figures, like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali, for example, have been able to handle Parkinson’s disease for many years. For that reason, it might seem like it’s not a very serious or deadly malady — but that’s a misnomer. Parkinson’s alone won’t kill you immediately, but can rapidly weaken your body and make it easier for you to succumb to other maladies. For older patients, Parkinson’s can create a host of problems, like muscle freezing, that may lead to death given the right circumstances.

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