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Understanding the Difference

There is a difference between physiology and pathology. Physiology defines normal functions. Pathology defines a disease state that usually includes cellular abnormalities that are recognized either through laboratory testing or by looking at slides. Physiological dysfunctions , on the other hand, are associated with symptoms or laboratory values that are not yet severe enough to be classified as disease. Dysfunctions may or may not have symptoms that you can recognize. For example, your blood sugar could be too high indicating that your physiology was headed in the direction of Diabetes, and you would have no idea it was out of balance.

Dysfunction can occur in any type of system. It simply means that the system is performing at a less than optimal level. For example, if some or all of the spark plugs in your car are not functioning properly, rather than getting your usual 30 miles per gallon, you may only get 20. This decrease indicates a dysfunction that you would want to correct, even though you could just keep plugging along. When the spark plugs eventually fail, this would be more like disease. If you want to drive, you will need to fix the problem.

Dysfunctions can indicate problems in many different areas. To continue with the example of Diabetes, elevated glucose levels can be because of poor diet, vitamin deficiencies, lack of exercise, autoimmune problems, or medication interactions. Correcting dysfunctions usually involves actions of maintenance; you correct the problem with lifestyle changes that require mental focus (recognition of the problem) and personal discipline (changing behaviors). Simply stated, you have to desire wellness and then work to maintain it.

The idea is that from both an economic and performance point of view, the best choice is to diagnose and repair the problem at the earliest stage possible. Wellness definitely is something that you do for yourself. It is an active process requiring your participation. We have many things in our lives call for our attention. We only have so much energy and we have to choose what things we wish to maintain. Health and Wellness are frequently taken totally for granted until, one day, they have simply vanished. If you want vitality, you will need to choose Wellness as one of the important maintenance areas in your life.

Author: Dr. David Luce

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. He is recognized as a innovator and thought leader in the integration of Western medicine with complimentary therapies.

Dr. David Luce | MD

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. He is recognized as a medical innovator, educator, public health advocate, and a leader in the integration of evidence-based Western medicine with complimentary therapies. Educated at Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale, Dr. Luce has over 20 years experience designing and implementing innovative treatment programs that restore health and wellness to his ...

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