Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is, “a condition of full physical, mental and emotional well being with no limitations.” A wide variety of definitions have also been applied to health. For some people it means being healthy, totally restored to a state of youth, while others define it in more complex terms as maintaining good health, being in good physical condition and of good mind. The dictionary may be the best place to look for definitions of health as some do not use it. When searching on the internet, you will probably find a lot of terms that are commonly used, although you can also find terms that have no medical background.
The definition given by the WHO is, “excess body weight; a poor diet; unhealthy living conditions; physical inactivity; self-negligence; neglected health conditions, and infectious diseases.” To add to this list of conditions, there are many more, such as diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, colon cancer, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, infertility, and cancer of the breast, rectum, lungs, gallbladder, prostate and stomach. If any of the previous conditions are present, the person should see his or her doctor. All are preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This would include a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, proper compensation for body mass, regular visits to the doctor and avoidance of tobacco and alcohol.
One group has come up with another definition which is more controversial. It states, ” wellness means an active involvement in determining an individual’s health through measurement and assessment of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.” Strictly speaking, this is included in the wellness approach, which is often applied to preventive health measures. For example, a wellness approach is applied to screening for breast, colorectal, cervical, liver, and prostate cancers. The screening process in this case may include blood tests, ultrasound, or some combination thereof. This definition is also used in the Center for Disease Control’s definition of wellness.
The definition of wellness applied to prevention and preventing disease is given a similar interpretation. It includes the measures taken to eliminate or reduce the chances of occurrence of a specific disease. In this instance, prevention is not focused on curing a disease but on preventing one from occurring. Thus, it differs from the clinical definition of wellness, which focuses on improving health through controlling or preventing disease.
The third definition emphasizes the importance of diagnosing and treating illnesses early. This is necessary so that they can be dealt with effectively and to ensure optimum survival and performance in everyday life. Although early diagnosis and treatment of some diseases can reduce their impact in daily life, this approach does not always bring about significant reduction in morbidity or mortality. Moreover, absence of treatment for certain conditions may leave the person with no means of recovery. Therefore, a combination of prevention and curative measures is necessary to ensure that diseases are not spread and remain at the manageable levels in the health system.
The fourth and final definition considers healthy adaptation as the sum total of all the efforts aimed at achieving and maintaining maximal wellness. This sum has to equal the sum of morbidity and mortality and therefore, it is not enough to achieve a state of maximal wellness. In health management, this definition is applied to determine the balance between the absence and presence of illness and death. It is an attempt to create a definition of health that would be in the best interests of the community as a whole and the individual as well.