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That which produces an effect or condition; that by which a morbid change or disease is brought about.
[L. causa]


Etymology: L, causa
any process, substance, or organism that produces an effect or condition.


Law & medicine That which creates a condition or results in an effect. See Immediate cause of death, Necessary cause, Proximate cause, Sufficient cause, Underlying cause of death.


in diseases, an agent, event, condition or characteristic which plays an essential role in producing an occurrence of the disease. Because there is nowadays much less certainty about what actually establishes a disease state it is becoming more common to use terms such as disease determinants, causal association, causal relationship. koch's postulates are no longer the sole criterion used in establishing causality.

constitutional cause
an inherent characteristic of the patient. Usually a systemic defect, e.g. protoporphyria.
direct cause
there must be no known variable intervening between the suspect factor and the disease.
endogenous cause
the cause comes from within the patient. See also constitutional cause (above).
exogenous cause
the cause comes from outside the patient, e.g. a virus infection.
indirect cause
all causes other than the direct cause (see above).
host cause
see endogenous cause (above).
necessary cause
a factor which must be present to produce disease; the disease does not occur unless the factor was or is present.
precipitating cause
the trigger mechanism that initiates the commencement of the disease state.
predisposing cause
a mechanism that makes a patient more susceptible to the precipitating cause.
primary cause
the principal factor in causing the disease.
secondary cause
a factor that assists the primary cause. A cause of secondary importance.
specific cause
the single cause in a single cause-single disease relationship.
sufficient cause
a minimal set of conditions and events which inevitably produce disease.

Patient discussion about cause

Q. What Causes Dizziness? My husband is 55 years old. Lately he's been experiencing dizziness when he gets up from sitting for a while. What could be the cause?

A. We often feel dizzy when we are very tired, however real dizziness could indicate on a variety of problems: neurological, cardiovascular (for instance low blood pressure), nutritional (for example lack of glucose), dehydration and more. When someone complains about experiencing dizziness when getting up from sitting or lying down, the cause is usually a sudden drop in blood pressure (called orthostatic hypotension).

Q. What causes dizziness? I’m a 55 years old woman with 2 children, and in the last few weeks I have a feeling of dizziness every time I stand up from my bed. What cause this feeling? Does it mean I have some serious thing? I also have hypertension and diabetes that are usually stable.

A. If this feeling appears solely on standing up, it maybe related to drugs you take to treat your hypertension (It’s called “orthostatic hypertension”). You should report this to your doctor and maybe changing your treatment can make this feeling disappear.

Q. What causes asthma? My 5 year old son has trouble breathing sometimes after he runs around too much. My friend suggested he might have asthma. What causes this disease?

A. Another consideration is that food sensitivities can exacerbate asthma.

More discussions about cause
References in periodicals archive ?
3]) Inactivating mutations in both TPO alleles have been found in patients with CH caused by TIOD.
This caused the sand to settle on the cope surface of the castings, thus causing the porosity.
Since cold sores are caused by a virus and are considered a medical condition, your doctor actually can help.
A company once asked him to see if its specially bred beans caused less gas than ordinary beans.
We do know that otorrhea is not always caused by an infection.
Doctors estimate that nearly half of the amputations caused by neuropathy and poor circulation could have been prevented by careful foot care.
Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses.
Like tetanus, it is caused by the toxin, or poison, of a bacterium, but it can spread from an infected person to the nose or throat of others.
This association provides information and support to women who have vulvovaginal pain, including pain caused by lichen sclerosus.
Functional vision loss can happen either because of the biological action of the eye to direct light or because of indirect glare caused by reflections from other objects.
Not fully considering the pattern reflected by several unusual fluctuations when trying to explain what caused them.
Of all homicides, more than 50 percent of the victims knew their assailants; 47 percent of homicides are caused by arguments, whereas only 15 percent occur during the commission of another crime (Prothrow-Stith, 1990).