What Are the Leading Causes of Disability?


Did you know that disability is the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 44? It’s a sobering statistic, but it highlights the importance of understanding what causes disability. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the leading causes of disability and provide tips on how to reduce your risk.

What’s the Problem?

The real issue, and some rather harrowing statistics, show that there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you’ll become disabled in some way, to some degree, before you get to retirement age. However, this could be in a number of ways and may vary in their severity.

Some such conditions include heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Others include accidental injuries such as falls or car accidents, and then there are congenital disabilities that are present from birth.

To answer the real question, the current leading causes of disability are;

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions

These are increasingly common conditions that are caused by things like high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol. They account for a large number of deaths each year, as well as disabilities.


This includes all forms of cancers, from breast cancer to leukaemia. Treatment for cancer can often lead to long term disability. The condition can vary dramatically in severity, some being very mild and treatable, whereas others can be terminal.

The journey through cancer as well is not just physical, but the emotional consequences that can accompany it can be traumatic and can leave long-lasting effects on both the affected individual and their loved ones.


Accidental injuries are a leading cause of disability, especially for younger individuals. A fall, a car accident or any other type of accident can result in long-term disability.

This is actually surprisingly more common than you may think, with around one-third of all disabilities being caused by accidents. This includes accidents that happen at home, at work, or in public places.

Congenital Conditions

These are conditions that are present from birth and can often be hereditary. They can range in severity, from something as mild as a club foot to more serious conditions such as cerebral palsy. These are conditions that can often be managed, but they may require lifelong treatment and support.

Lower respiratory infections

This includes conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis. These are both extremely common, especially in young children, and can often lead to long-term disability.

Pneumonia is actually the leading cause of death for children under the age of five, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and get treatment early. What’s more, these conditions are often preventable through vaccination.

Mental illness

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability, affecting around one in four adults in the United States. Conditions such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia can all lead to long-term disability.

These conditions can often be managed through medication and therapy, but they may require lifelong treatment.

Diabetes mellitus (type II)

This is a condition that is becoming increasingly common, especially in developed countries. It often leads to long-term disability as it can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed through diet and medication. The best way to avoid this condition is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight, as well as to get regular check-ups.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

These are two of the most common forms of dementia, and they both lead to long-term disability. Dementia is a condition that results in a decline in mental abilities, whereas Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia that causes gradual memory loss.

There is currently no cure for either condition, but there are treatments available that can help to slow down the progression of the disease.

Musculoskeletal conditions

These are conditions that affect the muscles and skeleton, and they often lead to long-term disability. Conditions such as arthritis, back pain and chronic fatigue syndrome can all lead to a significant decrease in quality of life. These conditions can typically be caused by a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these conditions, but there is a range of treatment options available that can help to improve quality of life.

However, there is currently no cure for most musculoskeletal conditions, but there are treatments available that can help to manage the symptoms. With the help of a healthcare professional, most people with these conditions can lead a relatively normal life.

So What Can Be Done?

There’s no one simple answer to this question; it depends on the individual and their circumstances. However, it is obviously clear that prevention is always going to be better than cure. If you can reduce your risk as much as possible when it comes to your health, then you stand the highest chance of not contracting one of these.

The best way to reduce your risk of becoming disabled is to focus on prevention. This means eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding things like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. It’s also important to be aware of your family history and to get regular check-ups to ensure that you are as healthy as possible.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent disability, taking these steps can help to reduce your risk. What’s more, you may want to check out the best disability insurance quotes to ensure you’re covered from a financial standpoint, regardless of what you’re dealing with.

What’s more, if you’re living with someone who develops a disability themselves, it’s always good to get educated so you understand the condition, what it is, how it works, and how you can best support your loved one.

This is just a glimpse into the world of disability – there are many other causes, and each one presents its own unique set of challenges. However, it’s important to remember that we all have the potential to become disabled at any time, so it’s crucial to be as prepared as possible.


Yes, it can be scary when you look at a list like this to think that so much can go wrong, and while it’s not always 100% unavoidable, if you’re proactive in your health and looking after yourself, you can massively reduce your risk of becoming disabled at any point in your life. So, make sure you’re eating well, exercising and keeping on top of those health check-ups!


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