What is Disease? Disease is an interesting medical word, derived from the Greek root of “path” which leads us directly to disease. Medical people know that PATHology is the study of disease and PATH/O/gens (bacteria) may cause disease. People who study have the ending Latin words of “o/logist,” so one who studies disease is a PATH/O/logist.

Here’s a part of a chapter in the training process for a Med-Certification student learning medical terminology… DISEASE. Want to learn more, check our course studies available here:
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The term disease broadly refers to any condition that impairs the normal functioning of the body. For this reason, diseases are associated with dysfunctioning of the body’s normal homeostatic processes. Commonly, the term disease is used to refer specifically to infectious diseases, which are clinically evident diseases that result from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular organisms, and aberrant proteins known as prions.

An infection that does not and will not produce clinically evident impairment of normal functioning, such as the presence of the normal bacteria and yeasts in the gut, or of a passenger virus, is not considered a disease. By contrast, an infection that is asymptomatic during its incubation period, but expected to produce symptoms later, is usually considered a disease. Non-infectious diseases are all other diseases, including most forms of cancer, heart disease, and genetic disease.
A disease is a particular abnormal, pathological condition that affects part or all of an organism. It is often construed as a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by factors originally from an external source, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune diseases. In humans, “disease” is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person. In this broader sense, it sometimes includes injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes, infections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviors, and atypical variations of structure and function, while in other contexts and for other purposes these may be considered distinguishable categories. Diseases usually affect people not only physically, but also emotionally, as contracting and living with a disease can alter one’s perspective on life, and one’s personality.

Death due to disease is called death by natural causes. There are four main types of disease:

  • pathogenic disease
  • deficiency disease
  • hereditary disease
  • physiological disease

Diseases can also be classified as communicable and non-communicable. The deadliest disease in humans is ischemic heart disease (blood flow obstruction), followed by cerebrovascular disease and then lower respiratory infections respectively.

Next we will learn how to find specific diseases of the several hundred thousand that plague mankind.