Defining health and illness to me is somewhat of a difficult task. There are many different ways to interpret the terms, and even though the terms mean different things, they are often times used together. To me, the definition of health is a person’s mental and physical well being. For example if a person is functioning at their cultures norm. Illness is a chronic extrinsic or intrinsic factor that has a negative impact on one’s health.

I believe the criteria that I base my definitions of health and illness come mostly from my schoolwork. However, there is also an influence from my family and society.

My thought process for deciding if the conditions should be considered an illness was as follows. I thought about how many people are affected by the condition, the symptoms the condition produces and the severity of the symptoms.

For HIV it was fairly simple for me to classify the condition as an illness. It affects a person’s entire life, there are many people who have the condition, and the effects of the condition can cause death. The condition affects so many people that there is plenty research going on to try and find a cure for the condition. So to clarify, HIV is a condition that is should be considered an illness.

For migraines, it was a little bit more difficult to determine whether or not the condition should be considered an illness. There are many people who experience migraines, and the symptoms cause much discomfort negatively impacting one’s health. However, unlike HIV death is not normally a result of a migraine. There are treatments for the symptoms of migraines, and usually migraines are a symptom of a different illness in the body such as dehydration or a brain tumor. With this thought process, I came to the conclusion that migraines are not an illness.

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  1. Emily Tassoni says:

    Migraines are fairly common among people in the U.S., with most people experiencing at least one in their lifetime. In the U.S., while the exact cause of migraines is unknown, it is generally accepted that stress, changes weather or seasons, and menstruation for women are affecting factors. One culture, the Dinka tribe of Sudan, believes that all pain, including migraines, is caused by wrong-doings and going against the laws and traditions of their culture. To cure the pain, Dinka must restore favor with their gods and make amends of their sins. If that does not work, the Dinka also have traditional healers that can use herbal or religious means to alleviate the pain.

    Mary Moore Free, Cross-cultural conceptions of pain and pain control (Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). Apr 2002) 15(2), 143–145

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