Today and In The Past People in the United States and other developed, Changing Patterns of Illness and Its Diseases industrialized nations live longer, on the average, than they did in the past, and they suffer from a different pattern of illness. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, people in North America suffered and died chiefly from two types of illness: dietary and infectious.
Dietary diseases result from malnutrition—for example, beriberi is caused by a lack of vitamin t31 and is characterized by anemia, paralysis, and wasting away Disease Processes in the Mind Body.
Infectious diseases are acute illnesses caused by harmful matter or microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses, in the body. In most of the world today, infectious diseases continue to be the main causes of death (WHO. l999c).
A good example of the way illness patterns have changed in developed nations comes from the history of diseases in the United States. From the early colonial days in America through the 18th century, colonists experienced periodic epidemics of many infectious diseases, especially smallpox, diphtheria, yellow fever, measles, and influenza. It was not unusual for hundreds, and sometimes thousands. of people to die in a single epidemic. Children were particularly hard hit. Two other infectious diseases. malaria and dysentery, were widespread and presented an even greater threat. Although these two diseases generally did not kill people directly, they weakened their victims and reduced the ability to resist other fatal diseases.
Most, if not all, of these diseases did not exist in North America before the European settlers arrived—the settlers brought the infections with them—and the death toll among Native Americans was extremely high. This high death rate occurred for two reasons. First, the native population had never been exposed to these new microorganisms, and thus lacked the natural immunity that our bodies develop after lengthy exposure to most diseases (Grob, 1983).
Second. Native Americans’ immune functions were probably limited by a low degree of genetic variation among these people (Black, 1992).
In 19th century infectious diseases were still the greatest threat to the health of Americans, The illnesses of the colonial era continued to claim many lives, but new diseases began to appear. The most significant of these diseases was tuberculosis, or “consumption as it was often called. In 1842, for example consumption was listed as the cause for 22% of all deaths in the state of Massachusetts (Grob, 1983). But by the end of the 19th century deaths from infectious diseases had decreased sharply we have already known Definition of Health And Wellness.
For instance, the death rate from tuberculosis declined by about 60% in a 25’year period around the turn of the century. Did this decrease result mostly from advances in medical treatment? Although medical advances helped to some degree, the decrease occurred long before effective vaccines and medications were introduced. This was the case for most of the major diseases we’ve discussed, including tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, and influenza. It appears that the decline resulted chiefly from preventive measures such as improved personal hygiene, greater resistance to diseases (owing to better nutrition), and public health innovations, such as building water purification and sewage treatment facilities. Fewer deaths occurred from diseases because fewer people contracted them.