Diseases and illnesses

Here you can find health information and resources, for yourself or someone you care about, on common diseases and illnesses.

In this section

  • Learn about what can cause abdominal (tummy or stomach) pain, self-care tips, and when to see your doctor. Read more
  • Abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding can be caused by infection and hormonal changes, but can also be a symptom of more serious problems. Read more
  • Learn about allergy symptoms and treatment, how to recognise a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), and more. Read more
  • Arthritis makes your joints stiff, painful and swollen. This page talks about osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Read more
  • An asthma attack makes it hard to breath. Find out about managing asthma, asthma medication, treating asthma attacks, and more. Read more
  • If your child has a bad cough, it’s important to recognise it early. A persistent wet cough can lead to the development of lung diseases such as bronchiectasis. Read more
  • Many people suffer from back pain and it can have a variety of causes. If you have back pain, find out how to help recovery and prevent the pain from returning. Read more
  • If you or a family member has bleeding from the anus (back passage or bottom), it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Read more
  • A boil starts as a red lump or pimple with red skin around it. It might be itchy or a bit painful. Find out what to do if your child has a boil. Read more
  • Botulism is a rare and serious disease. Find out what the symptoms are, how it is treated and what to do if you think your child might have it. Read more
  • Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the bowel. It is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer. Read more
  • Bronchiectasis is when your lungs have been damaged, usually because of infection. The main symptom is a wet cough that won’t go away. Read more
  • Breast cancer is New Zealand’s third most common cancer. A national screening programme checks women for early signs of breast cancer. Read more
  • Find out about New Zealand’s most common cancers and where to find more about cancer, treatment and support. Read more
  • Cellulitis is a serious skin infection which can start from broken skin (like a cut or insect bite). Find out what the signs are and what to do about cellulitis. Read more
  • Learn about acute bronchitis, including symptoms and self-care tips, and signs of more serious chest infections like pneumonia. Read more
  • Chest pain is usually caused by something minor – but it can indicate a serious problem, like a heart attack. Learn more about chest pain and when to see your doctor. Read more
  • In New Zealand, about 160 women develop cervical cancer each year. Learn more about what causes cervical cancer and how you can protect yourself. Read more
  • Chickenpox causes small itchy blisters on your skin. Find out how to care for someone with chickenpox, how to stop it spreading, and when to see a doctor. Read more
  • Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection, which is spread by having unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Read more
  • Learn about colds, including advice on self-care and what you can do to prevent spreading or catching them. Read more
  • An infection or allergies can cause conjunctivitis, making your eyes red and irritated. Find out what to do and how to use treatments like eye drops. Read more
  • Learn about causes of constipation, constipation in children and pregnancy, and preventing constipation. Read more
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a form of lung damage that causes coughing and breathlessness. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Read more
  • A cough is only a symptom, not a disease in itself.  The importance of a cough often depends on what other symptoms you have. Read more
  • Croup is a childhood illness that affects the upper airways. Learn about types of croup, when it’s serious, and self-care you can carry out at home. Read more
  • Diabetes is a disease where your body can’t control your blood sugar properly. Find out about kinds of diabetes, and where to get more information. Read more
  • Diarrhoea is when you have to keep going to the toilet to pass loose, watery bowel motions (‘poos’). Find self-care tips, and advice on when to see a doctor. Read more
  • Diphtheria is a throat infection that can be life threatening. You can protect your children by making sure they get their free immunisations. Read more
  • Occasional attacks of dizziness are normal, but dizziness can have serious causes – find out what to do if you have dizzy spells. Read more
  • Learn about common causes of earache, when to see your doctor, and what you can do at home if you or a family member has earache. Read more
  • Information and advice for the public and travellers on Ebola, a serious disease which can cause severe bleeding, organ failure and, in many cases, death. It has never been reported in New Zealand. Read more
  • Eczema (or dermatitis) is patches of dry itchy skin that become red. Find out how to care for eczema, to stop it itching and cracking. Read more
  • Endometriosis is a condition that causes painful periods, and in some cases makes it difficult to get pregnant. Read more
  • Enteroviruses cause mild to severe respiratory illness and are a frequent cause of summer and autumn ‘colds’. The kind of enterovirus called EV-D68 has been detected rarely in New Zealand. Read more
  • The eye is very complex and injury or disease can easily damage your eye beyond repair. Find out what symptoms can indicate a threat to your vision. Read more
  • Find out when a fever (high temperature) is something you can take care of at home and when you should see your doctor. Read more
  • Find out what you can do to avoid getting sick from a food or water-borne disease or parasite. Read more
  • Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease, which is spread through skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Read more
  • Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are spread by skin contact. HPV infection can lead to cancer later in life. Read more
  • Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that can spread through skin contact during sex. The infection is easily treated with antibiotics. Read more
  • Gout causes attacks of pain and swelling, usually in the joint of the big toe. Read more
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes serious illness in young children – and can be life threatening. Find out about getting your child immunised for free. Read more
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease can be a mild or a very serious illness. It is caused by a virus. Read more
  • Headaches are very common. There is a wide variation in the type of pain you could experience with a headache, and how long it may last. Read more
  • Head lice (nits) spread easily and make you very itchy. Find out how to treat head lice and stop them spreading. Read more
  • Heart (cardiovascular) disease is when your heart or blood vessels aren’t working properly. Heart disease can include angina and heart attacks. Read more
  • Hepatitis A is an infectious liver disease. It’s rare in New Zealand. If you’re travelling overseas, there’s a vaccination which can help protect you from hepatitis A. Read more
  • Hepatitis B is a liver disease which was common in New Zealand until a vaccine was introduced. Find out about getting your child immunised against hepatitis B. Read more
  • Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus that attacks the liver, causing inflammation and scarring. Many people have chronic hepatitis C and don’t know it. Read more
  • HIV damages the immune system and can lead to AIDS. It’s spread through unprotected sex and contact with infected blood, or from mothers to babies. Read more
  • Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of conditions where the intestine becomes inflamed. This leads to symptoms such as diarrhoea and stomach pain. Read more
  • Influenza (the flu) spreads quickly and can be serious. Find out the symptoms, when to see a doctor, and how to protect yourself from catching flu. Read more
  •  Iron overload (haemochromatosis) occurs when a person's body takes in and stores too much iron from their diet. Too much iron is toxic. Read more
  • Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition. It causes an upset stomach, with bloating, stomach pains and alternating constipation and diarrhoea. Read more
  • Kidney disease stops your kidneys from cleaning your blood properly. It can lead to kidney failure. Find out if you’re at risk, and how to prevent or slow down damage. Read more
  • The germs that cause tuberculosis disease can make you very sick. But if your body can suppress the germs, you will stay well. This is called latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Read more
  • Some people will develop health problems or lead poisoning if they are exposed to enough lead. Read more
  • Lung cancer kills more people in New Zealand than any other cancer.  Lung cancer must be caught early to have the best chance of treating it successfully. Read more
  • Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be life threatening. Find out what the symptoms are and how immunisation can protect you and your family. Read more
  • Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can spread rapidly and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Read more
  • Meningococcal disease causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Find out about symptoms and keeping your family safe. Read more
  • Mumps causes swelling in the glands around the face. It can lead to meningitis. Protect your child by making sure they get the free immunisations. Read more
  • Neck pain is common and has a variety of causes. Find out how to care for the pain and stop it from returning. Read more
  • Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause stomach or intestinal infection, leading to vomiting and diarrhoea. Read more
  • Osteoporosis is when your bones become thin and brittle. It’s most common in older people, and means you’re more at risk of breaks and fractures. Read more
  • Pneumococcal disease can be life threatening. Keep your family safe by making sure your children get their free pneumococcal immunisations. Read more
  • Polio is serious illness that can lead to meningitis or paralysis. Protect your family from polio by making sure your children get their free polio immunisations Read more
  • A rare disorder is one that only affects a small proportion of the population – but combined together, rare disorders are relatively common. Read more
  • There are many different kinds of rash. They have a variety of causes, such as diseases, allergies and fungal infections. Read more
  • Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable illness. To stop rheumatic fever, it’s important to have sore throats checked. Find out about the symptoms and prevention. Read more
  • Ringworm is a flat, ring-shaped infection. Find out what to do if your child has ringworm. Read more
  • Rotavirus is common in children and babies. It causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and can be very serious. Learn what to do about rotavirus and how to stop it spreading. Read more
  • Prostate cancer is common in men, but not all prostate problems are caused by prostate cancer. Not all prostate cancer needs to be treated.   Read more
  • Rubella is usually mild, but if you catch it during pregnancy, it can cause birth defects in your baby. Find out about the free immunisation against rubella. Read more
  • Scabies are small mites that burrow under the skin, causing a very itchy rash. Read more
  • Impetigo causes blisters and sores on exposed parts of body, like your hands, legs and face. The sores spread easily to other parts of the skin and to other people. Read more
  • Shingles is a disease that causes a rash and other symptoms. You’ll need to see a doctor if you think you have shingles. Read more
  • Find out what to do if your child has as skin condition such as eczema, a cut or graze, ringworm and more. Read more
  • Slapped cheek is a common childhood illness. It causes bright red cheeks – like you’ve been slapped – and a lace-like rash on the body. Read more
  • Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing. Find out what some common sleep problems are and where to find more information. Read more
  • Having a sore throat is very common. The discomfort can range from a scratchy feeling to severe pain. Read more
  • Know what the signs of a stroke are – the sooner treatment is received, the less damage a stroke will cause. Read more
  • Melanoma is the most serious kind of skin cancer – and New Zealand has the highest rate in the world. Learn more about skin cancer and access resources. Read more
  • Tetanus is a serious disease caused by bacteria usually found in the soil. You can protect yourself by getting immunised. Read more
  • Thrush is a fungal infection which can affect breastfeeding women and their babies. Learn how to recognise thrush and how to treat it. Read more
  • Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs, but can also affect the lymph nodes, bones, joints and kidneys. Read more
  • Learn more about common urinary problems, including frequent, painful, difficult and uncontrolled passing of urine. Read more
  • Vertigo makes you feel as though you are spinning or tumbling in space, or as if your surroundings are moving. Find what to do if you have vertigo. Read more
  • Vomiting is often caused by your body is trying to get rid of germs or some other toxin. Find self-care tips and learn when to see a doctor. Read more
  • Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious infection spread by coughing and sneezing. It’s caused by bacteria which damage the breathing tubes. Read more
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a bacteria that can cause acute stomach illness. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is rare. Find out about how it's spread, symptoms and prevention. Read more
  • Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that can spread Zika virus are not normally found in New Zealand, but they are found in many countries around the world. Read more
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