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A self-limiting illness is an illness, such as the common cold, which has various levels of impact on peoples functioning (in terms of academic performance, ability to perform the activities of daily living, job performance, social functioning etc) such that at particular levels of severity some people will define themselves as clinically affected, while others will carry on trying to live their everyday lives.

The self definition of oneself as being ill triggers an individuals illness behavior and where appropriate the social responses to illness. Where others see the self declaration of illness as premature this would be seen as malingering, or where it is mistaken as hypochondriasis.

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