REVEALED: The health questions your state Googles the most

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Americans are most curious about which diseases are contagious and how much water they should be drinking, according to an analysis of medical Google searches.

Researchers in the US analyzed Google search data from the first few weeks of 2024 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

They found that, on a national level, Googlers were most interested in whether common winter infections – like bronchitis, pneumonia and strep throat – are contagious.

Also popular were searches for details about the autoimmune condition lupus, which affects 1.5 million Americans including actress Selena Gomez.

However, answers varied by state.  

Researchers at pharma recruitment firm Soliant Health analyzed Google search results to find the country’s most common medical questions

For example, Floridians were most worried about what happens if you eat mold, whereas people in Kentucky wanted to know if you can live without a spine – the answer is no, by the way. 

Meanwhile, Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, and West Virginia asked questions about monkey pox, now known as Mpox, which spread rapidly across the US and UK in 2022. 

And Minnesota and Wyoming were curious about blockbuster weight loss drug Ozempic and its safety. 

But with 176,000 monthly searches, the most popular question across the country was: ‘Is bronchitis contagious?’, according to the analysis by pharma recruitment firm Soliant Health.

Bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs. 

This is usually caused by a virus and can lead to lead to coughing up mucus, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and chills. 

Risk factors include smoking, compromised immune system, and exposure to irritants like chemical fumes. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, bronchitis itself is not contagious, though the virus behind it could be. For example, the flu (influenza), which is highly contagious, has been shown to cause bronchitis. 

America's top five most Googled medical questions included queries on bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat, all of which can be contagious

America’s top five most Googled medical questions included queries on bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat, all of which can be contagious

With 148,000 monthly searches, the second-most popular question for Dr Google was: ‘Is pneumonia contagious?’

Unlike bronchitis, pneumonia inflames the lungs’ air sacs, which could cause them to fill with fluid or pus.

Along with coughing up mucus, the condition can cause chest pain when you breathe or cough, confusion, fatigue, fever, chills, low body temperature, nausea, and shortness of breath.

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses like Covid have been shown to cause pneumonia.

The American Lung Association (ALA) states that some forms of pneumonia are contagious, such as those from certain bacteria or fungi. For example, bacterial pneumoniais contagious for about 48 hours after you start antibiotics or your fever goes away. 

In third place for most popular queries, with 135,000 monthly searches was: ‘What is lupus?’   

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy tissues and organs. Over time, it causes inflammation in pain in the skin, joints, and internal organs. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain, swelling, a butterfly-shaped rash on the face, skin lesions, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dry eyes. 

Anyone can develop lupus, but it’s most common in women ages 15 to 45, as well as people who are black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. 

Among the sufferers is singer Selena Gomez, who admitted she had the condition in 2015.  

Symptoms are typically managed with medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants.

Raking in 105,000 monthly searches, fourth on the list was: ‘How much water should you drink a day?’

The age-old advice is eight, eight-ounce glasses every day. 

However, some experts caution that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, as it depends on your height, weight, and activity level, as well as pre-existing medical conditions that could lead to water retention. 

Penn Medicine suggests drinking 0.5 to one ounces for every pound of body weight, depending on your activity level. 

And in fifth place, with 92,000 searches every month, was: ‘Is strep throat contagious?’

Strep throat is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus. 

Symptoms include throat pain that comes on suddently, painful swallowing, red and swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, rash, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. 

The infection is most common in children. Left untreated, it can lead to infections in the tonsils, sinuses, skin, and blood, as well as inflammation in the kidneys. 

Strep throat is highly contagious, though it becomes less so after 24 to 48 hours of taking antibiotics.  

What are your state’s most asked medical questions?


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