Sep 21, 2017

The seasons when people freak out about health issues

Dehydration is a hot topic in the summer, common cold in the winter. Gabriel Gianordoli / Google News Labs

When people do Google searches about health problems, they're most likely to be looking up pain, cancer, or diabetes. That's one of the big takeaways from a new Google Trends study of the millions of searches related to health issues: which health problems people worry about most, how the seasons affect searches, and how epidemics spread.

Why it matters: This is the first project of its kind, and gives new insight into the seasonality of the public's health concerns, as searches related to maladies make up about 5% of all Google searches. The Google News Lab gave Axios an exclusive first look at the data.

Keep in mind: These charts can only describe seasonal trends of health searches. It can't explain them. While searches about a disease may partially be influenced by the number of people who have symptoms of that illness, they're not necessarily or directly correlated. More research would be needed to document the reasons behind the searches.

Highlights:

  • Most searched: Since 2004, around the world, the most common searches for health issues were pain, then cancer, with diabetes most commonly coming in third. It was occasionally replaced by acne and in 2004, HIV/AIDS.
  • Seasonal trends: Searches related to the flu, bronchitis and the cold are significantly more common during the winter, while dehydration, skin rashes and Candidiasis — likely caused by wet bathing suits — peak in the summer. And during the spring, allergy-related searches are most common — as well as chicken pox, since the spring is the peak season for the disease.
Searches for colds and bronchitis peak in the winter months.Gabriel Gianordoli / Google News Lab
  • Campaigns: Advocacy initiatives like Breast Cancer Awareness month cause the number of searches related to breast cancer and cancer in general to skyrocket in October. And for ALS, there was a significant spike in searches related to the disease in the summer of 2014, when the ice bucket challenge became popular.
The spike in searches for breast cancer coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.Gabriel Gianordoli / Google News Lab
  • Holidays: After New Year's Day, searches for chest pain are the most popular, plausibly due to increased food and alcohol consumption related to the holidays, which could cause heart problems.
  • Epidemics: The project also maps out how epidemics like Ebola, Zika and yellow fever spread all over the world. Watch their interactive map, here.

Go deeper: See Gabriel Gianordoli's visuals for yourself and search for other health trends on your own, here.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."