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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 ?
With this history, it's no surprise they don't mind making common cause with the party of Ashcroft.
But by making common cause with the Defenders in 1798, they threw away a golden opportunity to advance democracy and were drawn into what became a sectarian blood bath.
Making common cause, environmental and neighborhood groups haven't opposed casinos in commercial areas, but are vigorously fighting them in pristine wetlands zoned for recreation and other such uses by the state's Coastal Zone Management Plan.
We can accelerate the momentum by making common cause with education's dissidents.
And in making common cause with the rest of the planet, who knows what we might learn?
Transit providers (a large group in the case of pricey rail) and their unions have benefited, promoting the erroneous notion that more conventional transit capacity means less pollution (correlation between annual transit use and annual transit subsidies is negative [Cox 1997]) and making common cause with clean air advocates.
This non-sectarian opposition also increased opportunities for making common cause with Cordoba's still far from radical Peronist working class.
The United States is now considering making common cause with Iran, something that critics see as a dangerous move that would support "Iranian hegemony.
I could imagine our region making common cause with Scotland on many issues, and our region's economy benefiting from stronger links with a resurgent Scotland.
Despite Al Nusra Front being focused on defeating Al Assad's regime, its strength is bad news for the Iraqi government, as it has succeeded in making common cause with like-minded Islamists in Iraq.
British workers are increasingly pessimistic about job prospects in the immediate future, but overall workers appear to be making common cause with their managers to help keep people working.