A syndrome is a collection of recognizable traits or abnormalities that tend to occur together and are associated with a specific disease. A syndrome is really a collection of traits or distinctive features that run together.
In fact, that’s the origin for the term, is from the Greek “syn“, for “together“, and “drome“, for “run“. So, this is a collection of findings that you tend to see in a number of individuals who otherwise aren’t related.
Most syndromes named after the physician who first noticed them in people. So that, for instance, Down syndrome is a condition that was first noticed by a Dr. Down. Marfan syndrome is a condition that was first noticed by a Dr. Marfan. There are a whole list of these, or really hundreds and hundreds of syndromes have been described mostly over the last 150 years or so in medicine, and often named after the individual who first noted that these traits tended to run together.
Medical syndromes can be caused by genetic mutations or other factors.
A disease is a medical condition of the body which disrupts the normal functioning and physiological processes. Each disease has its own signs and symptoms attributed to it. It is generally accepted that there are four kinds of diseases – pathogenic, hereditary, physiological and deficiency.
The basic difference between the two terms relates to the symptoms that they produce. A disease can be defined as a health condition that has a clearly defined reason behind it. A syndrome (from the Greek word meaning ‘run together’) however, may produce a number of symptoms without an identifiable cause. A syndrome refers to a group of symptoms, while a disease refers to an established condition.
A disease is a condition that is marked by 3 basic factors.
- An established biological cause behind the condition
- A defined group of symptoms
- Consistent change in anatomy due to the condition
A syndrome does not have any of these features. Even the symptoms that are present are usually not consistent, and definitely not traceable to a single cause.
The symptom caused by a syndrome does not have an established reason behind it. In case of a disease, the cause is identified. Treatment of a syndrome is mainly symptomatic. In case of a disease, the underlying cause is treated. A disease causes changes in the anatomy; a syndrome may not produce any such changes.
A disruption of the disease to the normal or regular functions in the body or a part of the body.
For example, a disorder resulting from cardiovascular disease is an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. An arrhythmia is not a disease itself – it’s an abnormal heartbeat that occurs as a result of having cardiovascular disease.
Disorders can be classified into the following areas:
An abnormal state of health that interferes with the usual activities or feeling of wellbeing. Sometimes, a syndrome can be caused by a number of diseases or it can be a medical condition itself. For example, chronic fatigue syndrome is a neurological condition, diagnosed from a collection of symptoms in addition to the main symptom of post-exertional malaise.