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Pathophysiology is the study of functional changes in the body which occur in response to disease

or injury. For example, if someone ingests a toxin, that toxin might be associated with a variety of
physical changes, such as inflammation in the stomach lining or necrosis of the extremities. The
field of pathophysiology is designed to help people study the progress of disease so that they can
quickly identify diseases and consider various treatment options.

This field is required study for most people who work in the medical profession, including doctors,
nurses, and medical technicians. Understanding the progress of disease is key to learning how to
identify and treat it, and many medical professionals gain additional pathophysiology skills in the
course of their work. A radiologist, for example, often becomes quite adept at identifying the
structural changes associated with cancer as a result of viewing hundreds or thousands of films.

There are two separate medical fields involved in pathophysiology. The first is physiology, the
study of the body and its functions. The second is pathology, the study of disease and its impact
on the body. In pathophysiology, students look at how the progress of a disease changes the body,
and how the changes can be treated or reversed.

This field of study is not merely academic. Knowing the way in which a disease progresses can
allow a doctor to predict the next move of the disease, providing appropriate care to the patient.
Understanding the ways in which diseases can be treated is also critical, as doctors must choose
the best procedures and medications for their patients. Pathophysiology can also be important in
end of life care, as doctors can recognize the signs that a patient is close to the end of his or her
life, and they can provide the care needed to keep the patient comfortable.

Pathophysiology is the study of the changes of normal mechanical, physical, and biochemical
functions, either caused by a disease, or resulting from an abnormal syndrome.[1] More formally, it
is the branch of medicine which deals with any disturbances of body functions, caused by disease
or prodromal symptoms.

An alternate definition is "the study of the biological and physical manifestations of disease as
they correlate with the underlying abnormalities and physiological disturbances."[2]

The study of pathology and the study of pathophysiology often involves substantial overlap in
diseases and processes, but pathology emphasizes direct observations, while pathophysiology
emphasizes quantifiable measurements.


An example from the field of infectious disease would be the study of a toxin released by a
bacterium, and what that toxin does to the body to cause harm, one possible result being sepsis.

Another example is the study of the chemical changes that take place in body tissue due to
inflammation. the intersection of two older, related disciplines: (normal) physiology and pathology.

• Physiology is the study of normal, healthy bodily function (as opposed to anatomy, which is
the study of normal structure). When something disrupts normal physiological processes,
it enters the realm of pathophysiology.
• Pathology, broadly speaking, is the "study of the nature and cause of disease." [3] or the
results of disease in the body.

Pathophysiology looks at the specific malfunctioning that comes from or - alternately - causes
One caution in this approach is that "healthy" structure and function is not precisely the same in
any two individuals.


Pathophysiology is a required area of study for nearly all healthcare professional school programs
(medical, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, pharmacy, nursing and paramedic programs) in the
United States and other countries.

An infectious disease is a clinically evident disease resulting from the presence of pathogenic
microbial agents, including pathogenic viruses, pathogenic bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular
parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. These pathogens are able to cause disease in
animals and/or plants. Infectious pathologies are usually qualified as contagious diseases (also
called communicable diseases) due to their potential of transmission from one person or species to
another.[1] Transmission of an infectious disease may occur through one or more of diverse
pathways including physical contact with infected individuals. These infecting agents may also be
transmitted through liquids, food, body fluids, contaminated objects, airborne inhalation, or
through vector-borne spread.[2]

The term infectivity describes the ability of an organism to enter, survive and multiply in the host,
while the infectiousness of a disease indicates the comparative ease with which the disease is
transmitted to other hosts.[3] An infection however, is not synonymous with an infectious disease,
as an infection may not cause important clinical symptoms or impair host function. [ A toxin (Greek:
τοξικόν, toxikon) is a poisonous substance produced by living cells or organisms[1][2] (although
humans are technically living organisms, man-made substances created by artificial processes
usually aren't considered toxins by this definition).

For a toxic substance not produced by living organisms, "toxicant" is the more appropriate term,
and "toxics" is an acceptable plural.

Toxins can be small molecules, peptides, or proteins that are capable of causing disease on contact
with or absorption by body tissues interacting with biological macromolecules such as enzymes or
cellular receptors. Toxins vary greatly in their severity, ranging from usually minor and acute (as in
a bee sting) to almost immediately deadly (as in botulinum toxin).

The bacteria ( [bækˈtɪərɪə] (help·info); singular: bacterium)[α] are a large group of unicellular
microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes,
ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth,
growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste,[2] water, and deep in the Earth's crust, as well
as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million
bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a millilitre of fresh water; in all,
there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth,[3] forming much of the world's
biomass.[3] Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on
these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However,
most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have
species that can be grown in the laboratory.[4] The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a
branch of microbiology.

There are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells in the human flora of bacteria as there
are human cells in the body, with large numbers of bacteria on the skin and as gut flora.[5] The vast
majority of the bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the
immune system, and a few are beneficial. However, a few species of bacteria are pathogenic and
cause infectious diseases, including cholera, syphilis, anthrax, leprosy and bubonic plague. The
most common fatal bacterial diseases are respiratory infections, with tuberculosis alone killing
about 2 million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.[6] In developed countries, antibiotics
are used to treat bacterial infections and in agriculture, so antibiotic resistance is becoming
common. In industry, bacteria are important in sewage treatment, the production of cheese and
yoghurt through fermentation, as well as in biotechnology, and the manufacture of antibiotics and
other chemicals.[7]

Once regarded as plants constituting the class Schizomycetes, bacteria are now classified as
prokaryotes. Unlike cells of animals and other eukaryotes, bacterial cells do not contain a nucleus
and rarely harbour membrane-bound organelles. Although the term bacteria traditionally included
all prokaryotes, the scientific classification changed after the discovery in the 1990s that
prokaryotes consist of two very different groups of organisms that evolved independently from an
ancient common ancestor. These evolutionary domains are called Bacteria and Archaea.[8]

Sepsis is a serious medical condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state

(called a systemic inflammatory response syndrome or SIRS) and the presence of a known or
suspected infection.[1][2] The body may develop this inflammatory response to microbes in the
blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues. An incorrect layman's term for sepsis is blood poisoning,
more aptly applied to Septicemia, below.

Septicemia (also septicaemia or septicæmia [sep⋅ti⋅cæ⋅mi⋅a][3], or erroneously Septasemia and

Septisema) is a related but deprecated (formerly sanctioned) medical term referring to the
presence of pathogenic organisms in the blood-stream, leading to sepsis. [4] The term has not been
sharply defined. It has been inconsistently used in the past by medical professionals, for example
as a synonym of bacteremia, causing some confusion. The present medical consensus is therefore
that the term "septicemia" is problematic and should be avoided. [2]

Sepsis is usually treated in the intensive care unit with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. If fluid
replacement is insufficient to maintain blood pressure, specific vasopressor drugs can be used.
Artificial ventilation and dialysis may be needed to support the function of the lungs and kidneys,
respectively. To guide therapy, a central venous catheter and an arterial catheter may be placed.
Sepsis patients require preventive measures for deep vein thrombosis, stress ulcers and pressure
ulcers, unless other conditions prevent this. Some patients might benefit from tight control of
blood sugar levels with insulin (targeting stress hyperglycemia), low-dose corticosteroids or
activated drotrecogin alfa (recombinant protein C).[5]