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Difference between Disease, Syndrome, Disorder and Condition

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Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | October 2, 2021 (Last update: October 2, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

Disease. Disorder. Syndrome. Condition. For a layperson each of them are similar, if not the same, and can be used interchangeably. But, have you ever wondered why AIDS is always called a syndrome but cancer is a disease? Well, it’s because all these seemingly similar words are different in meaning. In this article, we are going to discuss about the differences between these terminologies. Keep Reading.

What is a Disease?

Disease is an abnormality caused due to pathophysiological response to external or internal factors. This abnormality negatively affects the structure or function of all or a part of an organism. It is not caused due to any immediate external injury. E.g. Cardiovascular diseases.

A disease is a medical condition that has a clearly known and understood reason behind it.

A disease is the highest level of conceptual understanding of medical issues. This means all the underlying causes are known by the medical fraternity in case of a disease.

What is a Syndrome?

Syndrome is a set or collection of various identifying signs and symptoms that characterizes certain disease or disorder. E.g. Down Syndrome i.e. presence of extra copy of chromosome 21 characterized by various physical and mental signs.

A syndrome (Greek word meaning ‘run together’) may produce symptoms without an identifiable cause.

What is a Disorder?

Disorder is a disruption in normal functioning of mind or body due to a disease, genetic factor or trauma. Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, for an example, is a disruption in normal functioning of heart caused due to cardiovascular diseases. It is not a disease in itself.

Disorders may be of the following types:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Genetic
  • Emotional
  • Behavioral
  • Structural

What is a Condition?

Condition is an abnormal state of physical or mental health that interferes with usual activities or the feeling of well-being. E.g. Dementia.

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