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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 ?
The most promising studies suggest a relationship between low vitamin D intake and many diseases, but they have failed to show direct cause and effect.
It was the direct cause of the two coups in 1966, the Nigerian-Biafra Civil War of 1967-1970, and the subsequent coups and counter-coups that have been the misery of Nigeria.
However, the hospital where Nisbet died did not report the death to Medtronic or the FDA because it did not consider the company's product to be the direct cause of death, the paper said, quoting the hospital's spokesman.
After an 18-month investigation, the report described the Rumsfeld order as "a direct cause for detainee abuse" at Guantanamo Bay, and concluded that it "influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, and stress positions," that began in Guantanamo, and spread to Afghanistan and Iraq.
There was contact with another player but we can't point to a direct cause.
While repeated deployments and post-traumatic stress disorder certainly add stress to relationships, she said, it's unusual for them to be the direct cause of a suicide.
explained the realities about secondhand smoke: "[W]e as medical examiners do not list ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] on death certificates since the present state of our knowledge and controversial aspects of ETS adverse health effects neither allow us to document ETS as a direct cause of death nor to establish to a reasonable degree of medical certainty the role of ETS as a contributory cause of death.
If they smoke multiple times throughout a day, they may be constantly nibbling on sweets, leaving food lodged between teeth and gums, a fairly direct cause of gum disease.
Whatever the direct cause, the blast is just the latest indicator that the security situation in this country.
And while it's not a direct cause of diabetes, metabolic syndrome is a strong predictor of the disease.
Although it couldn't be identified that the heads of hurdles were a direct cause of deaths at the Festival, the RSPCA is confident that their removal will make it safer for horses at Cheltenham, as it is taking away an element that prevents an animal from moving forward, and is therefore potentially dangerous.
involvement in Iraq or if other events were the direct cause of occupation (Langan, 2003).