What’s the Difference Between a Syndrome and a Disease?

What’s the Difference Between a Syndrome and a Disease?
When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had no idea what a syndrome was. Maybe you didn't, either. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, not a disease. But what's the difference between a syndrome and a disease? Are diseases more important than syndromes?

Typically, a disease has common symptoms and a treatment protocol and involves one or more organs. Some diseases are autoimmune, which means your body is attacking itself. An example would be ANCA-associated vasculitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the kidneys and other organs. Treatment for ANCA-associated vasculitis is usually a combination of immunosuppressive medications.

In an interview for "The Scope," Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones differentiates between syndromes and diseases: "Disease is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms. A disease usually has a defined or understood cause, process, and treatment."

A syndrome, on the other hand, is a collection or group of symptoms that frequently occur together. Thus far, no underlying cause has been established for fibromyalgia, so it is considered a syndrome. If that changes, it could be classified as a disease. Later in the interview, Dr. Jones explained syndromes:
"Syndromes are defined by a group of signs or symptoms. And you may not have to have all of them, but you might have two from one group and one from the other to have a syndrome. It is not a disease. Some women with a syndrome aren't really very ill. And there is no clearly
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