All across the world people are struggling with genetic vs hereditary diseases. They are more prevalent than you’d think and can cause many problems if left alone. Yet, individuals don’t always understand the difference between the two.
We know how difficult this subject can be. That’s why we’ve created this brief article to break down the key distinctions between the two so everyone can understand them. Whether you’re struggling with these diseases or are helping someone who is, this article will help you understand them better.
Keep reading to learn more.
What are Genetic Diseases?
Genetic diseases are conditions caused by abnormalities in an individual’s genetic makeup. These abnormalities can be inherited from one or both parents or can be the result of spontaneous mutations. These diseases can cause a wide range of health problems, from mild to severe, and can affect various parts of the body.
Some common genetic diseases include:
Cystic Fibrosis (CF), is a life-threatening disorder. It affects the lungs, digestive system, and sweat glands. This is caused by a mutation in the gene responsible for producing a protein called cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). This protein is responsible for maintaining the balance of salt and water in various parts of the body.
In individuals with CF, this protein is defective. This leads to the production of thick and sticky mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.
Sickle Cell Anemia
This is a type of blood disorder where the red blood cells are not shaped like the usual disc shape but instead have a sickle or crescent shape. This abnormal shape makes it difficult for the red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, resulting in anemia, organ damage, and pain.
It is caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Since it is a genetic disease, it can be passed down from generation to generation.
Huntington’s disease is a progressive neurological condition caused by a mutation in the huntingtin gene. This gene produces a protein that is essential for brain function, and the mutation leads to the production of a toxic form of the protein. As a result, individuals with Huntington’s disease experience symptoms such as:
- involuntary movements
- cognitive decline
- emotional disturbances
These diseases can have a significant impact on an individual’s life and may require ongoing medical care.
What are Hereditary Diseases?
Hereditary diseases are medical conditions that are passed down from one generation to the next through genes. These diseases are caused by abnormalities or mutations in the genetic material, which can be inherited from one or both parents. They can manifest at birth or later in life and can range from mild to severe.
Examples of hereditary disorders include:
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a hereditary disease caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a person’s genetic makeup. Some common physical characteristics associated with Down syndrome include:
- low muscle tone
- small stature
- flattened facial profile
Other health issues that can result from Down syndrome include:
- intellectual disabilities
- heart defects
- digestive problems
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to form blood clots. This results in excessive bleeding and bruising. It is a hereditary disease, meaning it is passed down from parents to their children.
This disorder is caused by a mutation in the gene responsible for producing blood-clotting proteins. This leads to a deficiency or absence of these proteins in the blood.
Hemophilia mainly affects males, as the gene responsible for the disorder is located on the X chromosome. But, females can also carry the gene and pass it on to their children.
These diseases are not contagious and cannot be acquired through contact with an infected individual. However, individuals with a family history of hereditary diseases are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Genetic counseling and testing can help individuals understand and manage their risk. View this DNA health test to help you get started with understanding your genetics insights.
The Difference Between Genetic vs. Hereditary Diseases
Genetic and hereditary diseases are both caused by alterations in an individual’s genetic code. However, there are key differences that set them apart.
The Causes and Diagnosis
Genetic diseases are caused by mutations in our DNA. It is either inherited from their parents or acquired through environmental factors.
Hereditary diseases are passed down from one generation to another through specific genes. This means that individuals with a family history of a hereditary disease are more likely to develop it. While genetic diseases can affect anyone.
Another important distinction is that hereditary diseases can be traced through family history. Genetic diseases may occur sporadically without any prior family history. Understanding the causes of these diseases is crucial for proper diagnosis and management.
Treatment options for genetic diseases focus on managing symptoms and preventing further complications. This is because there is no cure for the underlying genetic mutation.
Hereditary diseases may have specific treatment options such as:
- lifestyle changes
- gene therapy
Understanding the differences is crucial in guiding appropriate and effective treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
Genetic diseases often present with noticeable physical characteristics or abnormalities that are present from birth. On the other hand, hereditary diseases may not show any visible signs until later in life, making them harder to detect or diagnose. Furthermore, genetic diseases can affect a wide range of body systems, whereas hereditary diseases tend to be more concentrated in specific organs or tissues.
Understand the Key Differences Between Genetic vs Hereditary Diseases
Understanding the key differences between genetic vs hereditary diseases is crucial for promoting wellness and preventing the spread of these conditions. By recognizing the various causes, risk factors, and patterns of inheritance involved, we can make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to improve our overall health and that of the next generation. Take charge of your health and get regular check-ups to detect and manage any potential genetic or hereditary diseases. Your well-being is in your hands.