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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 ?
5 and a FRAX score at or above 20% or at or above 3% at the hip, or (3) a hip or vertebral fracture should lead clinicians to consider bisphosphonates--plus vitamin D, calcium, and lifestyle advice--after excluding secondary causes of osteoporosis or low BMD.
Secondary causes, with a moyamoya-like appearance, are more common.
headaches are divided into those with primary and those with secondary causes.
A much larger increase was observed in patients with liver disease as a secondary cause of underglycosylation.
One could pray for the salvation of souls, and this prayer, a secondary cause, would produce real effects, because God chooses to work through secondary causes.
Then I look at the thyroid gland The thyroid is often the most common secondary cause of hypertension.
The problem is that the death certificate, signed at Kings Cross Hospital, Dundee, gives the primary cause of death as cancer and the stroke as a secondary cause.
A secondary cause for horizontal cracking/finning is refractory lining hang-up, which occurs near the spout of coreless induction furnaces.
1) The patient exhibits changes to the optic disc suggestive of progressive atrophy, has a corresponding visual field defect, an open anterior drainage angle and no other signs of secondary cause.
Gelfand said the brain scans are performed to rule out any secondary cause of the headaches, such as an aneurysm that could be life-threatening.
BLACKWOOD: Little Theatre (01495 223485), Secondary Cause Of Death.
Unilateral persistent Secondary cause Bifrontal Migraine Diffuse Tension-type headache Are there any Intermittent nausea, Migraine associated vomiting, photophobia symptoms?