Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being fit and healthy and the absence of illness and infirmity”. A wide variety of definitions have also been used over the years. For a simpler explanation, the definition of health is the ability to be healthy. It is also important to note that health varies greatly from person to person. Health varies among individuals because of the differences in genetics, lifestyle, habits, and environment.
The definition of health is extremely important, because it influences virtually all aspects of an individual’s life. There are three important components to the definition of health, which include prevalent illness, mortality, and morbidity. Peristent illness is any physical illness or symptom that persists for more than six months. Mortality is the expected number of deaths that occur in a person’s life span. Both morbidity and mortality can be influenced by various factors such as quality of life, access to health services, life expectancy, social conditions, economic prosperity, environmental exposures, dietary practices, and the behaviors of other individuals.
For individuals who strive to achieve wellbeing, wellness, and health, there are several questions that need to be asked about their current state of health. Individuals must first determine what constitutes complete health and how to measure this concept. This includes an assessment of their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. These three components are interrelated and each affects the other. When an individual is diagnosed with an illness, he or she should also ask what type of illness they have and if there are treatments available. A discussion regarding any potential treatments should be had.
In addition to asking how to assess overall health, individuals must also be aware of the definition of healthcare itself. The definition states that healthcare is a defined collection of services, payment processes and procedures related to providing quality health care and preventing illnesses and injuries. It is a public health system that provides all the needed services and pays for them through taxes. Most countries have a comprehensive system of health care, however the United States has a complex and often confusing system that resists transparency. As described by Henry M. Jackson, Jr., “measuring health and wellness has become more important in recent years as advances in preventive medicine and other medical practices have made prevention and the treatment of severe diseases much easier than ever before.”
The definition of good health also includes self-rated measures. Self-rated health is a composite index of five components that provide quantitative measurements of a person’s health: physical factors such as body mass index (BMI), mental factors such as perceived stress, diet quality, and exercise habits, and biological factors such as age, family history of health, and genetic predisposition. These components are used to create a score that represents the quality of life and a patient’s ability to receive medical care. Many people might be aware of their family’s immediate medical history, pertaining to their parents and grandparents, but might need to dig up more information about ancestors who have passed. This can be important to consider when looking at their overall health condition, as there are some genes might have skipped a generation, showing up in children and not their parents. A bit of research with available records, or performing an obituary search, could enable people to find out detailed information about their ancestors’ health and well-being as well. While the overall reliability of this definition of good health has been disputed over the years, it is important to note that the use of these composite indices of good health among the American population has increased significantly over the last few decades.
Research on well-being has found that people living in poor economic conditions are more likely to experience physical illnesses, to suffer from depression and to report feeling depressed than those who are in better financial situations. The relationship between income and health is very complex and there is no clear link between income and mental health. Poor nutrition and under nutrition are linked to physical illness and emotional distress as well, but those with mental illness are not always poor as a result. Family history of any form of illness, early childhood obesity, type of cancer, race, educational attainment, etc. are risk factors for both poor well-being as well as illness and disease.