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10 most common reasons for hospitalizations in Singapore

Singapore’s society has long been aging, with over 26% of those aged 65 or older still working to support themselves. Last year, the city was ranked 4th in the world for average life expectancy by CEOWORLD Magazine, besting other developed economies such as France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  

As Singapore’s elderly population grows, the demand for medical treatment continues to rise, increasing the burden on the city’s healthcare system. 

Up to 569,200 people in Singapore were admitted to hospitals in 2016. This Pacific Prime Singapore article will explore the 10 most common reasons for hospitalizations in the Lion City.

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1. Accidents, poisoning, and violence (8.3%)

In 2016, the number of road accidents in Singapore which resulted in injuries stood at 8,304, according to the Singapore Police Force. Thankfully, the number has gone down since, reaching only 7,726 in 2017, and 7,690 in 2018. 

The key causes of road accidents in 2018 were: 

  • Speeding (719 cases)
  • Jaywalking (259 cases)
  • Drink-driving (176 cases)
  • Red-light running (120 cases)

Meanwhile, crime is no stranger to the city despite it being known as one of the safest cities in the world. In 2016, the Singaporean government reported 4,354 cases of crimes against persons, many of which led to hospitalizations. 

2. Cancer (5.9%)

Daily smoking is one of the five most common disease burdens Singaporeans face, according to the Singaporean Ministry of Health. It is prevalent among up to 12% of adults aged 18 to 69 years. 

For this reason, it is no wonder that lung cancer is among the most common types of cancer found in Singaporeans regardless of gender and ethnicity. The Singapore Cancer Registration report 2015 found that lung cancer made up 14.8% of all male cancer cases and 7.5% of all female cancer cases.

Other types of cancer common among men include: 

  • Colorectal (17.2%)
  • Prostate (13%)
  • Liver (7.5%)
  • Lymphoid neoplasms (6.8%)

Other types of cancer common among women include:

  • Breast (29.1%)
  • Colorectal (13.4%)
  • Corpus uterus (6.9%)
  • Ovary (5.4%) 

3. Pneumonia (3.2%)

Pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs caused by an infection, often follows an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold or influenza. 

As with other types of flu outbreaks, those that are most at risk from being infected in Singapore are young children and its growing elderly population. Pneumonia can lead to symptoms including: 

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulty

Mild cases of pneumonia can often be cured by drinking plenty of fluids, a balanced diet, and getting good bed rest. However, more severe cases may require the patient to be hospitalized for medical treatment.

4. Ischaemic heart diseases (3.1%)

Ischaemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is heart disease resulting from narrowed coronary arteries, which leads to insufficient blood flowing through the heart. It can cause chest discomfort, breathlessness, and in worst cases, heart attacks. 

The key causes of ischaemic heart disease include hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol), diabetes, and obesity. 

Unfortunately, these are conditions commonly found in Singaporeans. Here are the percentages of Singaporean adults aged 18 to 65 years who have the aforementioned conditions: 

  • Hypertension (21.5%)
  • Hyperlipidemia (33.6%)
  • Diabetes (8.6%)
  • Obesity (8.7%)

5. Intestinal infectious diseases (2.8%)

One of the most common intestinal infectious diseases found in Singapore is the norovirus gastroenteritis (gastric flu), characterized by the inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Resulting from bacteria, parasites, or virus infections, gastric flu can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. It is a highly contagious flu that can be transmitted by consuming contaminated food or drinks, touching contaminated surfaces, or having contact with an infected person. 

For this reason, those who suffer from gastric flu are often hospitalized.  

6. Other heart diseases (2.5%)

Apart from ischaemic heart diseases, other heart diseases include

  • Congenital heart disease: deformities of the heart that have been present since birth. 
  • Arrhythmia: irregular heartbeats.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: the heart struggles to pump blood properly due to the dilation of its chambers. 
  • Heart failure: the heart does not pump blood around the body sufficiently. 

7. Infections of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (2.1%)

While currently making up only 2.1% of all hospitalization cases in Singapore, serious skin infections are on the rise in this seemingly hygienic and tidy city.

Eczema is the most common skin disease treated by the Singaporean National Skin Center (NSC). In 2017, there were 18,405 new cases. This could be attributed to Singapore’s hot and humid weather, leading to excessive perspiration which makes the skin more susceptible to infections.  

8. Acute upper respiratory infections (1.9%)

Upper respiratory infections include infections in your throat, nose, pharynx, larynx, sinuses, and trachea (windpipe). Acute upper respiratory infections can often occur when the patient has a common cold.

If left untreated, respiratory infections can become acute and severe, and may require the patient to be hospitalized. 

9. Cerebrovascular diseases – including stroke (1.8%)

Cerebrovascular diseases occur when there is sufficient blood supply to the brain, potentially leading to strokes. This group of diseases can develop from various causes, such as arterial blood clot, blood clot in a vein of the brain, or blood clot in the sinus area.

The symptoms of cerebrovascular diseases include: 

  • Severe and sudden headache
  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Loss of balance and vision
  • Difficulty communicating, including slurred speech

10. Obstetric complications affecting fetuses and newborns (1.7%)

Pregnancy complications affecting fetuses and newborns can be caused by various factors, many of which are not within the mother’s control. Here are some common pregnancy complications that can have an effect on fetuses and newborns: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Preterm labor

Getting your medical risks insured

As seen above, those living in a fully developed city known for its outstanding hygiene and safety can still be prone to various medical risks from pneumonia to skin infections. If you are living in Singapore, you may have to visit the hospital several times a year to get your health checked for these medical risks.

As the cost of medical treatment in Singapore is among the highest in the region, it is advisable to get hospitalization insurance in Singapore so that you don’t have to pay for expensive medical fees with money from your own pocket. To find the best private health insurance plan in Singapore that fits your needs and budget, you can contact insurance brokers, such as Pacific Prime

At Pacific Prime, we offer free plan comparisons and unbiased professional advice from our experts on the best health insurance plans for you. We work with the top insurers in the world to offer you various international health insurance solutions for both you and your family.

You can get a free quote today on our webpage or contact us for more information.  

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Singapore
Phuwit is a content writer who helps inform readers on insurance-related issues through writing articles, blogs, and more. Phuwit strives to produce quality content that makes insurance easier to understand for readers.

In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.