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Posted: 20th October 2020

Subject: Models and Methods / Sub-category: 1° and 2° Prevention of Illnesses

An Overview – 1˚ and 2˚ Prevention of Illnesses

The terms illness and sickness are both generally used as synonyms for disease; however, the term illness is occasionally used to refer specifically to the patient’s personal experience of his or her disease. In this model, it is possible for a person to have a disease without being ill (to have an objectively definable, but asymptomatic, medical condition, such as a subclinical infection, or to have a clinically apparent physical impairment but not feel sick or distressed by it), and to be ill without being diseased (such as when a person perceives a normal experience as a medical condition, or medicalizes a non-disease situation in his or her life – for example, a person who feels unwell as a result of embarrassment, and who interprets those feelings as sickness rather than normal emotions). Symptoms of illness are often not directly the result of infection, but a collection of evolved responses – sickness behavior by the body – that helps clear infection and promote recovery. Such aspects of illness can include lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, sleepiness, hyperalgesia, and inability to concentrate.

Primary disease – A primary disease is a disease that is due to a root cause of illness, as opposed to secondary disease, which is a sequela, or complication that is caused by the primary disease. For example, a common cold is a primary disease, where rhinitis is a possible secondary disease, or sequela. A doctor must determine what primary disease, a cold or bacterial infection, is causing a patient’s secondary rhinitis when deciding whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.

Secondary disease – A secondary disease is a disease that is a sequela or complication of a prior, causal disease, which is referred to as the primary disease or simply the underlying cause (root cause). For example, a bacterial infection can be primary, wherein a healthy person is exposed to a bacteria and becomes infected, or it can be secondary to a primary cause, that predisposes the body to infection. For example, a primary viral infection that weakens the immune system could lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Similarly, a primary burn that creates an open wound could provide an entry point for bacteria, and lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

1˚ and 2˚ Prevention of Illnesses Lead Body

For more information, please select Lead Body – Royal Society for Public Health in Resources on the left, to be redirected to their site.