Defining Good Health and the Importance of Maintaining an Assigned Definition
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an “uneven condition of the body” and not just the absence of illness and infirmity. Various definitions have been employed over the years for varying purposes. Some healthful definition would include a state of good health, that is, one in which the person enjoys good physical condition and adequate resources for sustaining it. Others use the word to indicate a state of health that is generally recognized as good for the body, mind and spirit.
As one age group approaches its golden age, diseases that were unknown to them before the age of sixty begin to affect them, sometimes with alarming frequency. The word “age” is sometimes used in association with this adverse aging process, and the term “disease” is used to indicate the widespread occurrence of these diseases. Although no cure has been found for any of the diseases that afflict older adults, proper diet, exercise, stress management and appropriate healthcare coverage can help keep them healthy and fend off disease. Some diseases that affect older adults include heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, urinary tract infections, infectious diseases such as herpes and gonorrhea, as well as vision problems and hearing disorders.
As indicated above, the disease has been applied to describe a wide array of conditions that affect people as they grow older. However, some diseases lack a medical definition, since their presence is not known until significant medical care is provided to an affected individual. For example, it has been a source of dispute whether or not heart disease should be considered a disease. It has been accepted, however, that there is an increasing likelihood of individuals approaching the point where they are likely to develop heart disease, regardless of age. Similarly, many individuals may be inclined to view arthritis as a disease, but it is still necessary for individuals who are experiencing joint pain to consult a physician, and never assume that it can be cured.
There is also a third definition of the word “disease” that emphasizes the concept that it describes something that goes wrong. For example, although many people would consider the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to be a form of mental decline, in actuality it is a disorder of the brain. Similarly, although people may tend to view heart disease as a physical problem, it is instead a disease of the heart. The absence of a clear definition for the disease makes it difficult to formulate universal criteria by which a person can diagnose and treat a particular disease. In fact, while the lack of a universally accepted definition leaves room for conflicting interpretations of many medical terms, it has actually facilitated the development of many effective medical treatments and diagnosis procedures. In addition, the lack of a standard definition of disease has resulted in the development of many diagnostic tools that can help medical professionals to determine whether or not a particular condition warrants the attention of a medical professional.
Despite the existence of no universal definition of disease, there are certainly two general classifications of diseases that medical professionals use regularly. These include the physical form of the disease, as well as the mental or psychological type. While diseases of the physical nature are usually fairly easy to diagnose, mental disorders and diseases of the psychological type are more difficult to ascertain. One of the main problems with establishing the existence of a disease or its cause is the vague and relative nature of the definition itself. While it may be reasonably assumed that good health is synonymous with the absence of disease, this relationship is not so clearly understood.
The first step that any health policy should take is to establish a definition that is easily adaptable to various forms of diagnosis and different diseases. The second step is to ensure that the definition of health remains constant over time as new technologies and diseases arise. Unfortunately, there have been some recent attempts to standardize the definition of health in the United States, although these efforts have not been successful. It is important, therefore, for health professionals to continue to look for better ways to evaluate and define the quality of life.