Monday, October 12, 2015

Disease vs. syndrome — what’s the difference?

Why are some conditions considered a disease rather than syndrome?  This has to do the with the understanding of its pathology – or the cause and mechanisms of the condition.

Syndrome is a medical condition that produces a number of signs and symptoms that often occur together, but have no identifiable cause. So a syndrome can only indicate the risk of developing a certain disease.

A syndrome is only recognized as a disease when the medical community has established a high degree of certainty about the pathology.

So a condition like metabolic syndrome, which affects a third of Americans today, has a collection of symptoms that tend to occur together and increases your chances of getting chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

But since metabolic syndrome has many interconnected risk factors, there are also likely numerous causes that are still not well established, therefore it’s not labeled as a disease. Though insulin resistance and obesity have been two associated causes.



Animation & info via UCSF

Corina Marinescu

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