Good health is a priceless asset that it is easy to take for granted. Sometimes poor health is unavoidable. However, poor health can also arise from years of harmful habits and neglect. Ten common causes of poor health include cigarette smoking, poor diet, inactivity, lack of sleep, infectious diseases, genetic disorders, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, poor oral hygiene and injuries.

Smoking Cigarettes

According to the National Cancer Institute, cigarette smoking kills around 443,000 people each year 1. Cigarettes contain hundreds of harmful chemicals like nicotine, tar and formaldehyde that are hazardous to your health. Long-term cigarette smoking can cause cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory problems.

Poor Diet

Eating an unhealthy diet is a surefire way to worsen your health. Diets composed of foods that are high in fat, salt, sugar and calories can lead to health problems like weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


Being inactive can deteriorate your health by making your muscles weak, stiff, sore and more vulnerable to injury. Without regular activity, your body will fail to burn calories, causing you to gain weight. Staying sedentary for too long can also decrease your energy.

Lack of Sleep

Sleep is an essential function that allows your body to rejuvenate. Failing to get enough sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, making it more difficult to function during the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation can cause health problems like depression, heart disease and cognitive dysfunction 2.

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases like the flu, chickenpox and HIV sicken and kill millions of people each year. Infectious diseases occur when a person comes in contact with someone or something that is infected with germs like viruses and bacteria. Common methods of transmission include breathing, kissing, drinking and having unprotected sex.

Genetic Disorders

A genetic disorder is one that you inherit from your family members. Some genetic disorders, such as congenital heart defects, can be present at birth. Other genetic disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may surface later in life. Genetic disorders can be mild, crippling or even deadly.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

While having an occasional drink is alright, consuming alcoholic beverages in excess can affect your health. According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol can damage your liver and increase your risk of developing cancer 13.


Stress can be extremely taxing on both your physical and emotional health. Common causes of stress include financial strain, family conflicts and problems at work. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can cause health problems like depression, insomnia and heart disease 45.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is a commonly overlooked cause of poor health. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is essential to keeping your mouth clean and healthy. According to Mayo Clinic, not taking care of your teeth and gums can cause tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer 4. Research also suggests that heart disease may be linked to oral bacteria from gum disease.


Getting injured can affect your health by causing you to experience pain, stiffness or reduced range of motion. Injuries can arise from car accidents, falls and improper lifting. Common injuries include broken bones, fractures, sprains, strains and tears.