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Synonym: illness, sickness
Latin: morbus, Greek: nosos, pathos
German: Krankheit

1 Definition

A disease is a disturbance of normal physical or mental functions that reaches a degree that negatively affects the performance and wellbeing of an individual to a subjectively or objectively notable extent. The border between disease and ailment is fluid.

In terms of social security legislation, a disease is defined as the presence of a disorder that requires treatment in the sense of medical therapy and nursing and leads to incapacity to work.

2 Terminology

With people that suffer from a disease, you talk about ill or sick people. You can say someone is taken or fallen ill/sick.

3 Classification

3.1 ...according to systematics

The classification of diseases can be made roughly corresponding to the organ-specific in the major diagnostic categories (MDCs). The ICD-10 classification, or the ICD-O (International Classification of Diseases for Oncology) for oncological diseases, is more specific.

3.2 ...according to causes

Another rough classification can be made according to the cause of the disease, eg. in

3.3 ...according to progression pattern

From clinical observation, you can further divide a disease according to the disease progression pattern, among others into

  • acute diseases - erupting suddenly
  • Chronic diseases - progressing over a long time

3.4 ...according to therapeutic options

  • treatable
  • untreatable

3.5 ...according to prognosis

Also, the prognosis or healing prospects of a disease can serve for its classification.

  • spontaneously healing
  • curable by treatment
  • incurable

Diseases that cause a significant weight loss and an increasing weakness of the organism are called consuming diseases.

4 Cause and effect of diseases

The causes of disease can be manifold. So, you can differentiate between congenital and acquired diseases or between interior and exterior causes of disease. With many diseases, however, a single cause cannot be determined, so that one tries to find out risk factors (see eg. myocardial infarction). With symptomology and diverse diagnostic methods, you try to find specific or unspecific symptoms of a diagnosis.

5 Disease progression

The disease itsself is preceded by the preliminary stage of disease.
Disease - treated or untreated - leads to healing, remission, a recurrence (or several recurrences), suffering or death.
However, it is to be mentioned that many patients overcome their disease ìdespiteî treatment.

Also see: Health, self-healing capacities, prevention, medication, healing method, malformations, accident, injury, incidence, prevalence, morbidity, healthcare policy, medicine, healthism


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