Invisible Illnesses

Invisible illnesses are illnesses that cannot be seen by the naked eye. A person with an invisible illness experiences symptoms that are not readily visible to an onlooker, and he/she typically does not require the use of external assistive devices (e.g. wheelchair, cane, braces). Given the invisible nature of these illnesses, they are often difficult to diagnose and can lead to misperceptions and false judgements from others.

Please keep in mind that the words, “but you don’t look sick” can be perceived as frustrating or belittling for a person battling an invisible illness, even when they are said with the best of intentions. Many people struggling with invisible illnesses often feel invalidated, misunderstood, or ignored by healthcare professionals and the general public. Just because an illness is invisible, does not make it any less debilitating or real than a visible illness.

Stats and Facts 

  • 50% of Americans have chronic medical conditions. (
  • 1 in 4 Americans have more than one chronic medical condition.(
  • Approximately 96% of people who live with a chronic illness have a condition that is invisible; they do not use any assistive devices and appear healthy. (
  • About 25% of U.S. adults have a disability, and most invisible disability metrics in the U.S. say that roughly as high as 20% (or more) of Americans have an invisible disability. (
  • Invisible disabilities are the most common type of disability among college students. (

Invisible Illnesses 

Below is a list of some of the most common invisible illnesses. Since there are thousands of illnesses that fall under the invisible illness “umbrella,” it is important to note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list by any means. The purpose of this list is to provide a brief overview of some of the most common invisible illnesses. If you have an invisible illness that you would like to see added to this list, please contact us at