The definitions of Illness and Wellness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of illness and disease. Over time various definitions have also been applied to this concept. One such definition is that health is the ability to live an active and healthy life.
The word “public health” is often used in conjunction with the definition given above. Public health is concerned with the overall condition of the health of the population as a whole. It also includes the maintenance of a level of quality of life that ensures the basic survival of the human race. This definition differs from that of the life course definition as it focuses on the entire life course.
The life course definition emphasizes, “Health is the optimal condition or state of health that a human being can attain through appropriate lifestyle choices.” These choices include both external and internal practices. The external practices refer to those things that an individual does to promote optimal health. These would include nutrition, regular exercise, and other similar activities. The internal practices are those that an individual employs in order to achieve optimal health.
The life course definition emphasizes that a person’s mental well being and physical health depend on each other. Therefore, one cannot achieve optimal health without the other. Mental wellness includes cognitive processes, knowledge, values, attitude and interpersonal skills. Public health, on the other hand, emphasizes the relationship between illness and public health.
Illness, like risk factors, can be controlled. Illness may lead to poor nutrition, poor eating habits, undernourishment and other associated diseases. Poor eating habits can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other illnesses. Public health can be improved by curbing smoking and promoting the consumption of nutritious foods.
The definition of illness also shows that the absence of a disease is not equivalent to health. There are certain situations that may cause illness but may not cause death. These circumstances may include the following: the existence of other serious diseases that do not affect the central nervous system, the presence of a non-infectious substance in the blood (such as a tumor, virus, infection, or other foreign body) in the blood, and death caused by another cause. Illness is also defined as the absence of any serious impairment from normal functions. The lack of a disease is considered equivalent to wellness when there is no evidence of permanent disability or immaturity.