Healthcare News & Insights

The 12 Most Debilitating Diseases

Debilitating diseases come in many shapes and forms – from those that attack the muscles in our body and affect our physical abilities to those that affect our brain function and impair our thought processes.

People with debilitating diseases face a number of challenges that take an extensive toll on their health and finances. A person’s life can be completely changed in just a few short months as the disease progresses.

Here’s a list of debilitating diseases that significantly change the lives of millions of people:

12. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RARA is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in joints and organs throughout the body. A fairly common disease affecting 1.3 million people in America alone, RA includes symptoms that are painful and debilitating. People diagnosed with it may go through periods of remission for months or years where symptoms are not noticed. This is, however, a progressive illness that leads to joint destruction and physical disability, and there is no cure. Treatments have improved over time, and the prognosis for those with RA has improved. Physicians are now able to better control and prevent flare-ups, so patients are able to live a somewhat uninterrupted lives.


11. Schizophrenia

schizophrenia brainThis brain disease is a complex mental disorder that makes it difficult for those diagnosed with it to differentiate between reality and imagined experiences, behave normally in social situations, and have normal emotional responses to everyday situations. Though genetic factors have been identified as one of the causes of the disease, mental health experts still can’t pinpoint specific causes. People who suffer with schizophrenia often spend their lives in monitored isolation due to the disease’s extreme psychological barriers that prevent them from having friends or a job. Antipsychotic medications are the most common form of treatment, and because this is a life-long illness, patients usually have to stay on these medications, which have many side effects, for their lifetime.


10. Poliomyelitis

poliomyelitisThis disease, caused by the spread of the poliovirus, affects the central nervous system and can lead to partial or full paralysis. Though vaccinations to the poliovirus have helped prevent the spread of this disease in many parts of the world, it is still a big concern today due to its extremely debilitating complications. There are three main types of the disease, each ranging in complexity and health threats: subclinical infection, which accounts for 95% of the diagnoses, causes mild discomforts and runs its course within 72 hours; nonparalytic poliomyelitis, which causes pain, stiffness and fatigue, and usually lasts one to two weeks; and paralytic poliomyelitis, which targets the brain and spinal cord, and can cause full or partial paralysis or even death.



9. Muscular Dystrophy (MD)

MDMuscular dystrophies are actually a group of related and inherited disorders that contribute to muscle loss and weakness over time. Each type of MD can affect children and adults, though the most severe forms usually occur in early childhood. There is no cure for these diseases, making their debilitating effects even more upsetting. The effects can target all muscles or just a  group of muscles in the body, causing severe decreases in mobility, lung failure, scoliosis, cardiac fibrosis and tightening of muscles around main joints that cause complications that lead to death.


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  1. COPD and Cystic Fibrosis are both devastating, I have seen many instances of both. Everything else on this list is staggering also… a very sobering, but well written, piece. Thank you.

  2. Outrageous that you have left Chronic Fatigue/ME off this list.

  3. Shaswar says:

    I think Meniere’s Disease should be included in this list.

  4. Nikki Potter says:

    Two words: pulsitale tinnitus.

  5. Debbie O'Sullivan says:

    Would chronic pain syndrome/fibromyalgia fall into this list of debilitating diseases?

    • No. The title is “Most Debilitating Diseases.” These diseases cause paralysis and early death. How can you compare fibromyalgia with ALS wtf? I have MD and I know that many of these are even worse.

  6. I agree, where is severe intractable Tinnitus on this list? it literally makes even the act of thinking hard to do, i’ve suffered from it for 8 years.

  7. Brandy Nix says:

    Did you consider Lupus for this list? There are conditions on here that are NOT fatal but Lupus IS. Whoever wrote this needs to do some more research on debilitating diseases.

  8. Why is SLE not on this list but RA is? You can’t die from RA but you can certainly die from lupus. All credibility is lost on this list and perhaps even site.

    • Leon Gower says:

      Yes you can die from RA as it causes systemic inflammation not just of the joints but of all the organs. Many people do die from this disease and the title is “12 most debilitating diseases” …. RA is most certainly debilitating.

    • Blingthang says:

      Uh, yes you can die from RA. It happens all the time. What do you think Adrienne Rich died of? RA is a systemic disease and can cause heart attacks, strokes, serious lung disease, kidney disease, renal disease, spinal cord syndrome, lymphoma and fatal infections. Makes you two – three times more likely to die than someone your age who doesn’t have the disease and takes ten years off your life.

      But I agree Lupus should definitely be on the list.

    • Early death would be nice

      • Audrey Franco says:

        Early death is only nice if you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and therefore, know you will be spared from eternity in REAL hell. I pray for your salvation ♡

    • Pamela Hyndman Johnson says:

      Yes you can die from RA.I have RA Lupus Sjogrens Celiac and fibromyalgia and with all the pain comes depression too. I see a neurologist because my nerves are severely sensitive I cannot stand to be touched at times it’s so painful. RA can attack organs as lupus can they are both autoimmune diseases. I wish they’d find a cure.

  9. Seal Rj IV says:

    There is so much more out there. How can you even choose what’s better or worse?

  10. How about Progeria?

  11. Blingthang says:

    Ha! Whoever wrote this obviously hasn’t actually spoken to any RA sufferers. “Uninterrupted lives.” That’s laughable. It interrupts every part of your life: your work/financial life, athletic life, social life, romantic life and even your ability to care for yourself.

  12. Bouleh Art says:

    Mine should be number one but not sure if I could call this as a toxivicated or disease. I cannot seep permanently (not insomnia or sleep disorder neither seep deprivation) cause by taking heavy 13000mg of moleculized fluoride Antibiotic For 2weeks course that damage and washout my central nervous system that control sleep and wake up cycle.


    I was diagnosed of Lung disease (Asbestosis) in 2013, the doctor told me it has no permanent cure, i was given medications to help me with breathing and bronchodilators inhaler to slow it down, this continued till i saw a testimony in a health forum posted by an Anita Fords from Switzerland about how she was cured of the disease by a herbal Doctor from South Africa Dr Ejiro, I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and he sent me the herbal medicine for Asbestosis through courier service, when i received tthe herbal medicine i applied it for 2 weeks as instructed and i was totally cured off the disease, my health is back again, Contact this herbal doctor via his email or +27617403481

  14. Michelle Smith says:

    Huntington’s disease is one of the most horrendous diseases. Period.

    Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to mental decline and behavioral symptoms.[1] Symptoms of the disease can vary between individuals and affected members of the same family, but usually progress predictably. The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or cognition. A general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follow. As the disease advances, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent, along with a decline in mental abilities and behavioral symptoms.[1] Physical abilities gradually worsen until coordinated movement becomes difficult. Mental abilities generally decline into dementia. Complications such as pneumonia, heart disease, and physical injury from falls reduce life expectancy to around twenty years from the point at which symptoms begin. Physical symptoms can begin at any age from infancy to old age, but usually begin between 35 and 44 years of age. The disease may develop earlier in life in each successive generation. About 6% of cases start before the age of 21 years with an akinetic-rigid syndrome; they progress faster and vary slightly. The variant is classified as juvenile, akinetic-rigid, or Westphal variant HD.

    HD is the most common genetic cause of abnormal involuntary writhing movements called chorea, which is why the disease used to be called Huntington’s chorea. The disease is caused by an autosomal dominant mutation in either of an individual’s two copies of a gene called Huntingtin. This means a child of an affected person typically has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. The Huntingtin gene provides the genetic information for a protein that is also called “huntingtin”. Expansion of a CAG (cytosine-adenine-guanine) triplet repeat stretch within the Huntingtin gene results in a different form of the protein, which gradually damages cells in the brain, through mechanisms that are not fully understood. Genetic testing can be performed at any stage of development, even before the onset of symptoms. This fact raises several ethical debates: the age at which an individual is considered mature enough to choose testing; whether parents have the right to have their children tested; and managing confidentiality and disclosure of test results. Genetic counseling has developed to inform and aid individuals considering genetic testing and has become a model for other genetically dominant diseases.

    There is no cure for HD. Full-time care is required in the later stages of the disease. Existing pharmaceutical and non-drug treatments can relieve some symptoms, but are still limited in improving quality of life. It is much more common in people of Western European descent than in those of Asian or African ancestry. The disease can affect both men and women.

  15. I can’t believe Huntington’s is isn’t even on the list! I thought it would be in the top 3. It’s the mother of all diseases.

    • I remember when Sammy Davis Jr. had Huntington’s Chorea on and episode of the Mod Squad. He sure seemed upset.

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  17. Illuminati Pyramid says:

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  18. Sherlock Ohms says:

    I am an HVAC service technician,I had a call where the condensate pan of the evaporator coil that sits atop the furnace(upflow), was leaking. In this case the pan was plastic. Upon further disassembly I uncovered a large section of plenum missing behind the equipment, as a result noone could detect this, it was this way from it’s installation. After each heat cycle, due to this gap, cool air migrated in and caused thermal shock, after years of being heated then exposed to cool air after each heat cycle, the heat exchanger cracked, in this case it cracked long ago, finally when the crack became a hole, flames from inside the exchanger were able to contact the plastic drain pan which was how this condition was discovered.
    The entire time this furnace was running it was sending carbon monoxide into each room as they lived and slept, luckily it was in California and the furnace never ran enough to kill everyone outright, however I discovered the entire family was a basket case of maladies.
    The Mother had Fibromyalgia, she thought, the Father had sleep apnea, angina, high blood pressure, narcolepsy, the kids had maths, allergies, everyone had migraines, lethargy, it was insidious in its slow steady exposure, the home was only 7 yrs old so noone assumed they might need detectors at that juncture, however had they carbon monoxide detectors they would have long learned of the problem, the real problem. I wondered if the Father had a cardiac some day nobody would have attributed the faulty installation of their homes furnace was responsible.

  19. Sherlock Ohms says:

    If someone wants to die, they find a way, regardless of babysitters, one day, they just walk off a skyscraper or bridge, or into a freight train going 70 mph, a big rig doing 80 mph , a motorcycle into a tree etc etc.

    • Audrey Franco says:

      Suicide should be discouraged. Its the only unforgivable sin, besides rejecting Jesus. Suicide affects the family and friends and is the most selfish act besides murder.

  20. Greg Dahlen says:

    I do wonder if my unusual diet would help some of these diseases. For about eight years now I’ve been living on milk. Every day I drink one to two gallons, or four to seven liters, of nonfat cow milk and hardly eat or drink anything else. For me it helps with eye discomfort. For the same reasons it helps me, that milk is exceptionally easy to digest and use, I think it might help with many diseases.

  21. Greg Dahlen says:

    I do wonder what my unusual diet would do for various diseases. For about eight years now I’ve been living 90% on cow milk, mostly skim. In my case it helps with eye pain. I have the idea that for the same reasons it helps with eye pain (that milk is exceptionally easy for the body to digest and use), it might help with many diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, and so on. I’m trying to get the medical research community to test the idea.
    I think this diet would help healthy people as well. Milk is already broken up by the mother so it doesn’t clog you up as much inside and you therefore think and perform better.

  22. FunkyMagurk says:

    No Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis? Those are worse than most of these.

  23. Scleroderma is particularly horrible when it is bad. My Dad had Parkinsons and it was the only thing that was able to knock him down.

  24. Scleroderma can lead to loss of fingers and toes, disfigurement, severe arthritis (like RA), COPD from lung damage and heart damage, and kidney failure. No cure and no one really understands it.

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  26. Audrey Franco says:

    What ? Why would suicide even be mentioned ? How aweful to encourage ending ones ones own life !! If you were a Christian, you would know that we all have purpose in living, even though we suffer. God made us, and God is to decide when He is ready to take us home to spend eternal life with Him in heaven. Suffering is to be expected, if one is a Christian, and we are not living a wasted life just because we are in pain, whether mentally or physically. I pray that you come to know Jesus, before its too late, and I pray that He will heal you ♡

  27. Audrey Franco says:

    Sorry about your pain. I must agree, just suffering from depression alone, is like a living nightmare, and I agree mental illness is WAY worse than physical illness. I pray you know Jesus. I suffer with Panic Disorder and Major Depression, and Jesus has helped me much more than medication. People don’t realize how much mental illness takes away from your quality of life. As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the “inside” that counts. I would take physical over mental illness any day. Antidepressants don’t work, and panic attacks make you think you are truly dying. God Bless You♡

  28. This type of list will always be successful in achieving their goal of extracting everybody’s superiority while simultaneously getting them incredibly pissed off.

  29. Maggie Shenton says:

    I have had Underactive thyroid for 17 yrs the last ten years it has been unstable 2 years ago along with this have be come even more depressed and now have chronic fatigue and Ulcerative Colitis as well as fibromyalgea my life is so debilitating i do not enjoy my life any more my hubby is such a lovely man does every thing now clean cook washing shopping i would be lost without him.

  30. Arno Krippene says:


  31. Star Man says:

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a neurimmune disease where patients are significantly more functionally impaired than Multiple Sclerosis. Quality of life is significantly worse as well. And there are 3 times more with ME/CFS than MS.

    I doubt any nonfatal disease is more debilitating than severe ME/CFS.

    There is no effective treatment for ME/CFS. NIH research funding for ME/CFS per patient is less than 1/50th that of MS.

  32. Susan Marie Salvato says:

    I agree with you. I am so moved by your words because i feel the same. I am no longer human to the doctors, the people who know you are mentally ill etc. you are afraid to seek help for more traditional diseases or health issues because they assume you are making it up! – and they put you in the “ward” and do nothing about what your seeking healing for in the first place. I am terrified of hospitals, I would rather die at home suffering cancer or ms or whatever because i am Nuts and i don’t deserve respect and am not to be believed. They feed and water you in the ward. That’s all. – Horrible quality of life no friends family wants nothing to do with you – I myself don’t want to wake up anymore. Its’ too much worry sadness pain lonliness cruel world – i didn’t ask to be born this way. Just let me go home to God.

  33. jackjude . says:

    I take your point, but the quality of life with Alzhiemers or ALS/MND is far far far worse than your cited mental illnesses.

    • Terry Murray says:

      Actually schizophrenia is far far far worse then Alzheimer’s….people with schizophrenia are a danger not to only themselves but also everyone around them or who ever they might cross paths with in society because there highly unpredictable & can become extremely dangerous to the point they no longer know right from wrong because the false reality they live in could end up killing people with out even knowing they did it because there so far out of there mind and is unconsciously aware of what there doing if schizophrenia progresses that far untreated & isn’t closely monitored…the worlds leading scientist and #1 doctor in the field of schizophrenia which is my expert, doctor & schizophrenia specialist told me personally her self schizophrenia is worse then Alzheimer’s and is the worst progressive brain decease in the world…people with Alzheimer’s don’t have a nasty reputation for killing people and murdering others & people with schizophrenia do have that nasty reputation…not 1 person in history that was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s killed another person…but hundreds of people in history diagnosed with schizophrenia has ended up murdering people & went on a killing spree…that’s why schizophrenia is far far far worse then Alzheimer’s is…people with Alzheimer’s is mainly a danger to only themselves and the people who know them….people with schizophrenia is mainly a danger to everyone that’s a member of society (even people they don’t know) including there selfs because murder rate is far much higher with people that have schizophrenia and are much more likely to kill

  34. Cathrine Minor says:

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  36. Lingard Ellis says:

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