Difference between Disorder and Disease

They are used with some frequency as synonyms, but they are two terms that identify two different types of conditions in humans. A disorder is a concept that defines an alteration in the state of health of a person while a disease has a known origin.


This term comes from Latin, from the sum of two words: Trans which means “on the other side” and tornare which means “turn or turn”. A disorder is a description of symptoms, behaviors and actions of a person and that may be associated with pathologies and disorders. It may be especially related to mental pathologies, cognitive or developmental disorders.

It has numerous uses, but, in most cases, it refers to a state of slight alteration of health. It is the action and effect of upsetting or reversing the order or regular behavior of something.


The term comes from the Latin infirmitas and means “lack of firmness” According to the WHO, a disease is the alteration of the physiological state in one or several parts of the body caused by known causes and manifested by characteristic symptoms and whose evolution is to a greater or lesser extent, foreseeable.

Disease is also understood as the loss of health and whose negative effect is the structural or functional alteration of an organ or system at any level. The concept of disease is only an approximation that guides the type of health problem, facilitating its understanding.

Differences between disorder and disease

  • Illness is the loss of health, bodily and emotional well-being. It is considered the alteration of the normal state of health of an individual. Disease is an abnormal disorder of the body or mind that causes a disturbance of normal function.
  • A disease has to have a known cause, a diagnosis, a prognosis, and a treatment.
  • A disorder is descriptive, it describes the symptoms and altered behaviors of an individual. For example, you may have a vision disorder and its cause may be a disease.

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