What Is a Disease?

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I have no idea what this means. I just do as our Benevolent Seed Overlords command
So our Benevolent Seed Overlords pose the question “What is a disease?” This question merely proves that longer questions are usually easier to answer than shorter ones.


So I’ve decided to change the question to “What is an infectious disease?” (cuz it’s my blog). There are two underlying meanings of the word disease:

  1. An organism that lives on or in a host and that harms the health–that is, lowers the fitness–of that host.
  2. The effect of a parasite (the previously described organism) on the unhealthy host.

I like the first definition–or I should say I find it more interesting–because I really don’t want to hear about your symptoms (mine, on the other hand, are fascinating to me). The etiological agent is far more interesting than a kvetching human.

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6 Responses to What Is a Disease?

  1. N.B. says:

    My pathophysiology professor provided us with an interesting definition of disease once:
    “Disease is the absence of health.”
    Of course, this doesn’t really help much, but it certainly explains the problems of the “worried well”…

  2. bob koepp says:

    There’s actually a pretty extensive literature addressing this question. And how it’s answered turns out to be relevant to quite a number of important practical issues. Prominent among these is the question of the scope of medicine, and thus, the scope of medical expertise and professional duties. It’s also of interest to health insurers, who would like to be able to demarcate healthcare from the promotion of various other social goods.

  3. Typy says:

    That´s something which i always wanted to know!

  4. Bukmacherzy says:

    Good work, regards form Poland!

  5. Hello Mike, thank you for great article 😉

  6. It’s also of interest to health insurers, who would like to be able to demarcate healthcare from the promotion of various other social goods.

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