Every year, a number of health concerns emerge in the United States that deserve special attention. The problems concern patients and physicians alike. By gaining information about the latest health concerns, families and individuals are more likely to protect themselves from the risks. Here we have put together the biggest health risks that you should be aware of in 2018:

2017-2018 Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season was expected to be more serious than in previous years and that has certainly seemed the case as we are currently in the midst of it. Normally, the flu season peaks anytime between December and February, however it seemed to start early this season. In November 2017, six southern states reported having widespread cases. Another 20 states reported regional outbreaks. In addition to arriving earlier in the year, the influenza A strain of H3N2 flu is causing more serious illness. Outbreaks began in Australia and resulted in 29,000 hospitalizations and 745 fatalities. The flu vaccine is also supposedly only 10 percent effective.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The public first became aware of antibiotic-resistant bacteria when cases of methicillin-resistant Staph aureus or MRSA were reported. However, since 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are now more than 18 strains of bacteria that developed resistance. Every year, approximately two million people develop infections from resistant bacteria and approximately 23,000 fatalities occur.

Zika Virus

In 2017, there were 373 cases of diagnosed Zika virus. Almost half of the states in the country have at least one of the three species of mosquitoes that pose a potential Zika hazard. Many people who become infected do not experience symptoms. Some may have only mild symptoms. However, the greatest danger occurs in pregnant women. Even without symptoms, an infected expectant mother passes the disease to her unborn child. Growing fetuses then suffer serious birth defects that include insufficiently formed brains. However, researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research report that during trials, 92 percent of people receiving a newly developed Zika vaccine demonstrated immunity to the virus.

Drug Overdose Epidemic

In 2015, there were 59,000 reported fatalities linked to drug overdoses. One year later, the number rose to 64,000. In many cities across the United States, Fentanyl or a derivative was responsible for the majority of deaths. The prescription pain reliever is 500 times more potent than morphine. A dose no larger than a few salt crystals can prove fatal. Unfortunately, the drug makes its way to the street where dealers combine Fentanyl with cocaine, heroin or other substances. Unsuspecting drug abusers purchase the formulas and become victims of an overdose. Other prescription medications implicated in accidental overdose deaths include benzodiazepines. The group of medications include Ativan and Xanax and are responsible for up to 10,000 of the annual fatalities.

Heart Disease

More than 614,000 deaths in the United States are attributed to heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death. One-fourth of the fatalities are caused by cardiac arrest. Heart disease may describe a variety of cardiac-related conditions including coronary artery blockages, angina, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. While more men die of heart attacks when compared to women, women are at an additional risk because they often do not experience typical warning signs.

Cancer

Despite advances made in detection, treatment and research, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Although cases are gradually declining, more than 591,000 people died in 2016 as a result of cancer. It is now known that various infectious processes may progress to malignancy. The list of infections includes Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes gastric ulcers, hepatitis B and C, the human papillomavirus and HIV. Individuals can reduce their risk of developing cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a healthier diet, avoiding extensive sun exposure and by eliminating tobacco products.

Energy Drinks

The World Health Organization reports that the ingredients in popular energy drinks pose potential health risks and should not be consumed by children. The beverages contain anywhere from 80 to 350 milligrams of caffeine. The most an adult should consume in a 24-hour period is 400 milligrams. However, many individuals drink multiple cans of the beverage each day. Along with regular caffeine, the drinks also contain the substance in hidden forms that include guarana, kola nuts or yerba mate. Manufacturers also often include the amino acid taurine, which enhances the effects of caffeine. The ingredients cause increased heart rates and constricted blood vessels, which could lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Do you have any emerging health risks on your mind that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments section below.