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gradual return to health after illness, injury, or an operation, esp through rest



in humans and animals, a period of recuperation that is characterized by the gradual disappearance of disease symptoms and the restoration of normal vital activities. The time limits of convalescence are conditional. The functions of individual organs begin to normalize at the height of the disease, that is, during the acute period.

Convalescence may be rapid or prolonged; the elimination of the basic disease and the restoration of bodily functions do not necessarily mean that the structures and functions of all systems and organs have recovered to the state prior to the illness. For instance, cardiomyopathy can occur after infections, and functional disorders of the nervous system can occur after influenza.

Convalescence is usually accompanied by improvement of appetite and by weight gain. General restorative treatment and medical rehabilitation are especially important. With some infections, for example, typhoid fever and dysentery, discharge of the causative agent may continue during convalescence. This accounts for the implementation of special measures to prevent epidemics; for instance, an individual may receive permission to work only after laboratory analysis confirms his health, and children convalescing from dysentery are kept in isolated wards.


The period and process of recovery after an illness or injury.