An illness is a certain abnormal condition which negatively effects the functioning or structure of some or a portion of an organ, and which isn’t caused by any direct external stimulus. Illnesses are also often called generic medical disorders that are typically associated with certain characteristic symptoms. For instance, arthritis is a typical illness which causes joints to become inflamed and painful, but it can also result in a decreased level of mobility and muscular weakness. Similarly, anemia is an illness that causes the body to produce low levels of hemoglobin, which contributes to the shortage of energy for carrying out normal bodily functions.
Most of the illnesses and disorders are categorized according to how they affect the different parts of an individual’s body. For instance, in the case of cancer, the disease affects both the internal organs and the body tissues as a whole. This is usually evidenced by either a growth on the affected organ or by changes in its appearance (for example, a mole growing on a cancerous site). In order to understand how these conditions arise, we need to have a clear understanding of the concept of illness itself. An illness is described as a disease when it interferes with the normal activities of an organism. In other words, it interferes with the normal functioning of an otherwise normal body system.
It should be pointed out that many illnesses stem from an underlying cause, which is still unknown to us (the cause of a virus for instance may be known to a doctor-patient, but in layman’s terms, an illness cannot be fully explained without reference to biology). A doctor-patient, therefore, needs to know what illness he or she is suffering from, in order to determine what actions to take and to control the illness. In addition, doctors should also ensure that the patient seeks medical attention for the reason indicated by the patient, so that the illness does not recur due to negligence on the part of the doctor (e.g., if the doctor fails to administer the appropriate medication).
One example of a disease that interferes with the immune system is influenza. Flu season usually lasts from November through March each year in North America, and the peak number of cases usually occurs during the flu seasons. The most common symptom of flu is the inability to hold down fluids, with consequent severe dehydration. For this reason, people usually seek medical help very soon after they experience the first symptoms of flu. However, dehydration alone is insufficient to cause death – in fact, the majority of flu deaths occur in those whose underlying medical conditions are supportive, such as those with low blood pressure and adequate levels of fluids.
To complicate the picture somewhat, if someone contracts pneumonia or a lung infection on four or more days of severe dehydration, they are considered to have contracted a “short-term” illness (influenza). It has been determined that a person can become dehydrated due to viral respiratory tract infection on only three days of illness, but can remain healthy and show symptoms on four or more days. Thus, anyone who contracts a short-term illness that interferes with the ability to drink adequate fluids (e.g., cough, sore throat, diarrhea) may remain healthy and show no signs or symptoms of illness for up to six or more days. Viral infections that persist and do not resolve within three days are categorized as “acute,” and may indicate that the underlying condition requires immediate medical attention.
Viral infections spread through airborne particles, direct contact with bodily fluids, and through secretions from the nose and mouth. In addition, these infections are usually accompanied by fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. Because the virus spreads so rapidly, it is very important to avoid indirect contacts (e.g., sharing utensils, eating food, etc. ), which can spread the illness to an infected person. The most common foods that can lead to illness include those high in fat and sugar, eggs, dairy products, chicken, and fish.