Individual characteristics and their influence on the disease occurrence process.

The individual characteristics are the features of the body system which differentiate one person from the other, these features could either be external to the body or found in the body system.

Most proponents of disease theories consider individual characteristics as a major determining factor regarding the possibility of becoming infected with a particular disease. The severity of the disease and recovery rate are not excluded from the influence of these characteristics as they are a part of the disease occurrence process.

This article aims to explain characteristics that put individuals at risk of becoming ill and possible ways of managing these characteristics to prevent the occurrence of ill-health.

Personal environment and their influence.

Existence: the longer each individual lives, the probability of getting coming down with a disease increases therefore, being alive increases the chances of becoming ill. However, eating hygienic and nutritious foods, regular exercise, good personal hygiene, and regular medical check-up are some of the ways that could increase the probability of achieving optimum health.

Exposure: the duration of exposure to a disease-causing agent also increases the possibility of an individual getting ill and the severity of the illness. For instance, when a person is continuously being bitten by mosquitoes for a month, this increases the possibility of them having malaria and could also cause malaria to be severe.

individual’s should endeavour to protect themselves from disease-causing agents for instance, in the case of malaria, individual should ensure they stay in a clean environment, sleep under a treated mosquito net, clean surrounding drainages and ensure all doors and windows are properly screened to prevent mosquitoes from gaining access to where we stay.

Biological characteristics and their influence

Immune system : though the human body has its own soldiers that help fight diseases which are called the white Blood Cells, sometimes the body system gets overwhelmed with these activities, giving room for disease causing agents (bacteria, virus, fungi, protozoa) to thrive thereby, resulting in the manifestation of signs and symptoms of such diseases.  

The ability of the immune system to adequately carry out its protective task is dependent on the individual’s health habits in terms of nutrition, exercise, and rest. Therefore, individuals should ensure in-take of well balanced meals, regular exercise, drinking clean water regularly and adequate rest in order to boost the immune system.

Gene: genetic make-up is another biological factor that could be for or against an individual when it comes to the occurrence of a disease. For instance people that have the sickle cell genotype are more predisposed to falling ill.

One of the most common genetic diseases in this part of the world is sickle cell disease therefore, every individual should endeavour to confirm their genotype from a good laboratory so that necessary steps can be taken when there is a need for it. Also, seeking proper professional management is necessary for every individual living with sickle cell disease or any other type of genetic condition. This is necessary to ensure adequate steps are taken towards boosting the ability of the immune system to protect the body against disease-causing agents.

Gender: the presence or absence of one or more body parts is what differentiate one gender from the other, and it is also a major determinant of disease occurrence especially for chronic illnesses like cancer. For instance, though breast cancer still occur amongst few men, it is more common with women since they have bigger breast tissues also, penile and prostate cancers can only occur in men as women do not have a penis or prostate.

Presence of existing illness: opportunistic infections are illnesses that are more severe in people living with HIV/AIDS, this occurs as a result of their weakened immune system. Some examples of these opportunistic infections are; Candidiasis, herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Lymphoma, Tuberculosis e.t.c

To prevent opportunistic infections, individuals should confirm their HIV status and people living with HIV/AIDS should ensure strict adherence to medication, protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, drink clean water and eat well cooked meals, and avoid sharing sharp objects

Skin: the skin is the largest organ in the body and it is also a major barrier between microbes in the environment and the body system. The skin protects the body from a lot of disease-causing agents, however, the ability of the skin to carry out its protective task could be compromised if the skin is damaged. Damage to the skin could be caused by the use of bleaching cream/soap and injury.

Avoiding the use of skincare products that contain prohibited chemicals like hydroquinone and preventing the occurrence of injury to the skin are some of ways of improving the skin’s ability to serve as a protective guard.

Body PH: the PH (Potential of Hydrogen) balance also known as acid-base/alkalinity balance of the body is the level of acid and base in the blood. This acid-base/alkalinity level ranges between 0 to14, with 0 being the most acidic (acidity reduces as the number increases) and 14 being the most basic (basicity reduces as the number reduces) with 7 being neutral on the PH scale.

Though the human body has been designed to maintain the acid-base balance with the help of the lungs and the kidney, however when there is a problem with one or both of these organs, it could lead to an imbalance in the blood PH. This imbalance influences an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases.

Regular water in-take, adequate exercise, eating a well-balanced meal and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking have been confirmed as ways to assist the organs responsible for maintaining the body PH.

Psychological characteristics and it’s influence.

Excessive Stress: though, stress can be positive, however, it could become negative if it becomes too regular and there is no form of recreation or relaxation between stressful events. This can negatively affect the internal equilibrium of the body thereby, leading to the manifestation of physical symptoms like headaches, increase blood pressure, stomach upset, and insomnia or emotional symptoms like depression, panic attack, and worry, all of which could also increase the severity of an already existing illness.

One of the functions of the nervous system includes helping the body respond to stress through the activation of the flight or fight response, the continuous activation of this response when an individual is consistently stressed without a break could drain the body system physically and emotionally thereby making the body vulnerable and unable to fight disease-causing agents.

To protect the body from becoming vulnerable to illness due to stress, necessary steps should be taken by individuals to ensure intentional relaxation after stressful events.


For a disease to occur, it takes one or more of these individual factors with the presence of the disease-causing agent and an enabling environment. These factors which vary amongst individuals, pose certain people at a greater risk of being infected with an illness than others, these factors also play a role in the speed of the recovery process as it favours some over others. The knowledge of these influencing factors should be a guide for individuals regarding the different ways they can reduce the chances of getting sick or improve the recovery process.

About the Author

Akinlabi Bisola has a Bachelors degree in Health Education and Masters Degree in Public Health Education. She is the founder of The Health Educator's Library Consultant and a Trained and certified first aider. She is a Social Media for Health and Development Expert (GHEL) as well as a Health Communication Expert (GHEL).
She runs a podcast called THEC with Bisola and a website called


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