Many of the stories that most moved us were about celebrities whose sudden brushes with serious illness or death brought home to us our own vulnerability, and motivated us to protect our own health and that of our families.
Quite a few of the year's most important health stories reflect the times in which we live. They looked at how economic stress affects our sleep, our diet, and our relationships. They looked at the changing world in which our children are growing up. And they helped us learn to recognize dangers we can avoid and to cope with those we can't.
Here are WebMD's picks for the five stories that made the biggest impact on our readers' lives. For better or for worse, they changed the way we live and the way we think about our health.
1. Bedbug Invasion
They were supposed to be gone, a throwback to the times of Dickens.
But way back in 2003, exterminators told WebMD that they were getting about 50 times more calls about bedbugs than in previous years.
This year, it became official: Bedbugs have successfully invaded the U.S. A survey of U.S. pest control companies confirmed that bedbugs are biting from coast to coast -- and the news got under America’s skin. Blame international travel and the elimination of pesticides like DDT, which can destroy the critters.
Tell the truth: Haven't you been checking your sheets for telltale specks, or searching for lentil-sized bugs in the seams of your box springs? When you check into a hotel, do you leave your luggage on the tile floor of the bathroom while you check the bed for signs of infestation?
If not, it may just be a matter of time. Go ahead, check out our bedbug slideshow, featuring pictures of both the bugs and their bites.
The good news about bedbugs is that they don't carry diseases. The bad news is that it's really hard to get a good night's sleep if you're trying not to let the bedbugs bite -- and that it's hard to get rid of the icky critters.