30 of the Top Leading Causes of Death in the World

23. Nutritional Deficiencies Those of us in the United States of America often deal with the health effects of overeating combined with a sedentary lifestyle, but… Trista - July 13, 2019
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23. Nutritional Deficiencies

Those of us in the United States of America often deal with the health effects of overeating combined with a sedentary lifestyle, but in many parts of the Global South hunger and malnutrition are still severe problems that kill countless people, especially children, every year. Starvation alone kills many, and nutritional deficiency leads to anemia and many other health issues that can lead to death.

While none of us possess the ability to stop worldwide famine ourselves, supporting organizations like Heifer International that help build local food security. Starting your own backyard gardens to support local food pantries are steps we can all take to help prevent starvation and malnutrition deaths.

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24. Malaria

Despite the numerous efforts to eradicate it over the years, many of which have caused irreparable climatological damage, the malaria mosquito continues to wreak havoc throughout much of the Global South.

If you live in a region where malaria is endemic or plan on traveling in one, be prepared to pack and religious apply heavy-duty insect repellents. Sleeping nets are also a must at night, especially in areas with houses that aren’t well sealed or insulated. Mefloquine, which is related to quinine, is recommended as prophylaxis before, during, and after travel to areas in which malaria is endemic.


25. Diarrheal Disease

While the days of cholera may seem long past to many of us, cholera is still a reality in many parts of the Global South. Contaminated water is the vector for cholera, and many areas in the Global South still struggle to access clean water, an issue that will only worsen as climate change threatens our world’s reservoirs. Other causes of diarrheal disease death include viruses like Norwalk and cytomegalovirus as well as parasitic infections.

If traveling to an area where cholera and other waterborne infections are endemic, bring your own supply of bottled water and water purifying equipment or chemicals. You should always boil municipal water before consuming it. For those who live in such areas, it is crucial that we all continue to advocate for all humans’ right to clean, potable water.

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26. Measles

The year is 2019 and Measles is making a triumphant comeback across Europe and the United States. While this wasn’t a sentence anyone expected to have to write in 2019, it is the unfortunate reality thrust upon us by those who refuse immunizations and threaten the concept of herd immunity that protects people who are unable to get vaccines and those for whom they are ineffective.

There is a proven, safe, and effective way to present the Measles infection, which is to vaccinate yourself and your children. Measles is an incredibly contagious disease that, when reintroduced to a population, will spread rapidly due to its highly infectious aerosolized droplet transmission route. Not only can Measles cause death, but it can also cause permanent blindness and devastating secondary effects like subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or SSPE.

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27. Childhood Diseases

In addition to Measles, many other childhood diseases like diphtheria, pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) and others are making a comeback thanks to the drop-off in vaccination rates in the western world. In the Global South, many childhood diseases were never adequately eradicated or controlled, and many continue to kill children who lack access to adequate medical care routinely.

Continuing standard immunizations for all children in order to preserve herd immunity is the single most effective choice that can be made, worldwide, to prevent the resurgence and continued existence of devastating childhood diseases that are entirely preventable.

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28. Tuberculosis

This disease is long reviled and feared, and even occasionally trendy — looking at you, Victorian England. Tuberculosis has been destroying the lungs and leading to premature death for many centuries. Some also speculate that this disease, in part, gave rise to the common myths around vampires. What is far scarier than vampires, however, is the fact that some strains of tuberculosis are now showing signs of antibiotic resistance, which could make the old-timey disease a brand new public health menace.

Thankfully, tuberculosis is relatively difficult to spread. If you are diagnosed, take all of your medicines for the entire length of time required by your doctor. You should wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and avoid prolonged contact with immuno-suppressed people, the elderly, and young children.


29. Drowning

The vast majority of leading causes of death on this list are caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking or substance use, a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or genetic factors. However, drowning is another tragically avoidable cause of death that claims a surprisingly large number of lives around the world each year.

Giving children swimming lessons and water safety courses is a great way to instill the fundamentals of water safety at a young age. For adults, always wear life preservers when on the water. Don’t drink and boat or swim. If swimming in an area where riptides are present, make sure you have completed training on how to escape that dangerous form of current.


30. Meningitis

Meningitis refers, broadly, to an inflammation of the meninges, which comprise the protective membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by numerous infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses. The most common form varies by region, but all areas of the world can experience Meningitis infections.

One of the easiest ways to prevent an infection is through using all of the available immunizations, including mumps, meningococcal, and Hib vaccines. College students in the US are typically encouraged to receive the meningococcal vaccine due to the close living quarters.