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What Are the Most Common Incurable Diseases?

Incurable diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, and HIV, pose ongoing challenges for patients and healthcare systems alike. These conditions persist despite medical advances, often requiring lifelong management. Each carries a unique burden, impacting lives in profound ways. Curious about how these diseases affect individuals and society? Discover more and join the conversation on coping with chronic illness.
Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

Among the most common incurable diseases are Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes and multiple sclerosis are other diseases that often do not have a cure. Other debilitating diseases, which have been largely eradicated or controlled in developed countries, but are still common in underdeveloped countries, include polio and cholera. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are not necessarily deadly by themselves, but are progressive in nature and people with these conditions eventually die while still being affected by them.

Unlike rare, incurable diseases like Pompe disease, which causes the heart and other muscles to stop working, many common diseases are those that doctors have learned to treat despite being unable to cure them. Vaccines, clean hygiene methods and public health warnings have also helped keep incurable deadly diseases under control in certain parts of the world. For example, polio was once an extreme health threat in the United States and claimed many lives, but vaccinations against this disease have caused it to now be almost nonexistent in that country.

AIDS is one of the most common incurable diseases.
AIDS is one of the most common incurable diseases.

One of the most common incurable diseases, AIDS, has had a global impact and continues to regularly kill those who are stricken with it. Although it is one of the most deadly diseases in the world, a person may have AIDS for as many as 10 years without having any symptoms or without knowing he is even sick. As one of the most debilitating diseases, the symptoms of AIDS include night sweats, fever, chills, extreme weight loss and swollen lymph nodes. A person who is infected with AIDS may also contract a number of secondary illnesses as a result of a severely compromised immune system.

Diabetes is a common incurable disease.
Diabetes is a common incurable disease.

Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease are examples of diseases that are not necessarily deadly, but that people are afflicted with until their eventual demise. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary, but the disease largely affects the nervous system, which results in a variety of progressive symptoms such as weakness, an unsteady gait, and memory loss. Parkinson’s disease may also mimic some of these symptoms, as well as dementia, which is a hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common incurable diseases.
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common incurable diseases.

Diseases like diabetes can often be controlled with medication, diet and exercise. Extreme cases of this this disease, however, often result in limb amputation and a significant reduction in the quality of a person’s life. Such is one of many incurable diseases that can lead to death if not properly diagnosed and treated at its earliest onset. If treated in time and properly managed, however, many people with diabetes and similar diseases can enjoy a somewhat normal life despite an illness.

Discussion Comments

literally45

@fBoyle-- I'm not an expert on this topic. I think that many auto-immune diseases are incurable, but this also depends on how severe the disease is. For example, lupus is generally considered to be incurable but I have never heard this being said about eczema.

And even though a disease may be incurable, this does not mean that the disease cannot go into remission. All immune related diseases can go into remission and the symptoms can usually be controlled with medications. If the issue is an over-working immune system attacking the body's own tissues for example, immunosuppressant drugs could be used to slow it down.

So even if doctors label a disease as incurable, patients should not lose hope or assume that they will always be suffering.

fBoyle

What about auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, eczema and inflammatory bowel diseases. Are they considered incurable?

bear78

I'm not so sure that we have learned to treat incurable diseases like diabetes. Although it is possible to manage symptoms and effects of diabetes, I think that these remedies slow down the progression of the disease rather than treat it.

I will have to do more research for official numbers but as far as I know, many type two diabetics require insulin when they are elderly even if their diabetes is managed. Type two diabetes may not require a lot of effort to be managed in the beginning. If the disease is diagnosed early, medications, diet and exercise are usually enough to keep blood sugar levels in the normal age.

But as people get older, insulin resistance increases and more medication is needed. At some point, the body may stop producing insulin altogether causing a type two diabetic to become a type one diabetic. Diabetes also has long-term effects like high blood pressure, poor circulation and nerve damage. I wouldn't exactly call this treatment. I think we are still far away from treating diabetes and even farther away from a cure.

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    • AIDS is one of the most common incurable diseases.
      By: designua
      AIDS is one of the most common incurable diseases.
    • Diabetes is a common incurable disease.
      By: rob3000
      Diabetes is a common incurable disease.
    • Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common incurable diseases.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common incurable diseases.
    • Extreme cases of diabetes may result in limb amputation.
      By: kolotype
      Extreme cases of diabetes may result in limb amputation.