Understanding the different types and categories of disease
From rare diseases to the most common diseases, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information regarding symptoms, treatments and risks. Understanding how diseases are categorized and what the signifiers are of the different types of diseases can help take the fear out of your diagnosis.
Once you are diagnosed with a disease, it's important that you get the proper treatment. Seeing a doctor frequently and making sure you report any and all symptoms can help you get the best possible care. You may also want to look into support groups to further understand and learn to cope with your condition.
Infectious diseases are those that are spread by transferring bacteria, fungus and viruses. Common examples include colds, flus and conditions like chicken pox. These diseases may be easily contagious, spread by sneezing, drinking from the same cup and other methods of transference, or they may be more difficult to transfer, such as through blood or fluid exchange.
Infectious diseases generally spread from human to human, but may also spread from animal to human. One example of an animal-to-human transference is the H1N1 virus, which originated from pigs.
The difference between infectious health diseases and genetic diseases is that genetic conditions are caused by abnormalities in a person's genetic makeup. They are categorized into four types:
- Chromosomal. Chromosomal conditions result when a particular chromosome carrying genetic material is missing, duplicated or otherwise damaged. Of all chromosomal conditions, Down syndrome is probably the most commonly known.
- Mitochondrial. Mitochondrial conditions are caused by mutations in mitochondrial non-chromosomal DNA. It's important to note that mitochondrial conditions are very rare. An example of a rare disease caused by mitochondrial mutation is Leber optic atrophy, which causes optical nerve cells to degenerate.
- Single-gene. Single-gene conditions are caused when one gene in the DNA mutates. Two well-known examples of single-gene disorders include cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease.
- Multifactorial. Multifactorial conditions involve the mutation of multiple genes in DNA. Examples of multifactorial diseases include Alzheimer's and diabetes.