Difference Between Syndrome and Disease

Disease, illness, syndrome, disorder are some words that are hard to ignore if we are discussing health. Syndrome and disease are two words that have a clear difference in the meaning.

What is a Syndrome?

A syndrome is the association of several clinically recognizable features. Any sickness or illness cannot be called a syndrome. A syndrome is a special case. This word is given to a set of symptoms that may occur altogether at once. The word “syndrome” comes from the Greek meaning “run together”. A syndrome cannot be traced down to a single cause because a set of symptoms may occur due to one disease or even due to multiple disease conditions. Sometimes syndrome is the name given to a set of symptoms before the actual cause is found. One such example is AIDS- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which referred to the set of symptoms that occur due to HIV infection. The word is still in use even after finding the HIV infection.

Examples for syndromes: Down’s syndrome, Parkinson’s syndrome, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, Cervical Syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, Restless legs Syndrome, Scalded Skin Syndrome, Toxic Shock Syndrome, Yellow-Nail Syndrome, Acute Radiation Syndrome etc.

What is a Disease?

A disease is an abnormality in the normal functioning of the body which is indicated by certain symptoms triggered by a specific cause. Some diseases are grouped into major classes of diseases such as auto-immune diseases. There are many classifications for diseases. In one classification, diseases are divided into 4 main classes as pathogenic diseases, physiological diseases, hereditary diseases, and deficiency diseases. Diseases are also classified as communicable and non-communicable diseases. The characteristic feature of diseases with respect to syndrome is that it has a specific cause, a specific set of symptoms, and consistent change in anatomy.

Examples for diseases: Cholera, syphilis, malaria, Lyme disease, Meningococcal disease, Hepatitis, Hemophilia, Typhoid fever, meningitis, dengue, measles etc.

What is the difference between Syndrome and Disease?

• Syndrome is a set of symptoms occurring altogether, but the disease is an abnormality in normal functioning of the body.

• Syndrome does not have a specified cause, but a disease does.

• A Syndrome may indicate a disease or even a combination of diseases.

• Two or more different diseases may cause the same syndrome.

• Treating a syndrome is symptomatic but treating a disease allows treating the underlying cause because it is known.