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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 ?
In an interview in the September 2005 issue of Discover magazine, Gray explained that if global warming is causing climate change, "it is causing such a small part that it is negligible.
In a Mendelian fashion, the number of carriers of heterozygous mutated gene causing CH would be higher than the number of the reported CH cases.
Nerve damage can prevent the bladder from emptying completely, allowing bacteria to grow in the bladder and kidneys and causing urinary tract infections.
It has long been understood that suggestion can be very powerful in both curing and causing illness, but historically the emphasis has been on the positive side.
In such cases, tests will be done if necessary to find out whether an arrhythmia is causing the symptoms.
It can also blanket newly laid fish spawn, causing the eggs to suffocate before they hatch.
Tobacco, causing the loss of investment, of thousands of jobs, and of his executive compensation.
The 60-event tour will challenge people to eat foods known for causing sensitive teeth-sufferers pain with ice cream eating and ice cold lemonade chugging contests.
What may be the most important observation to date is that even normal synuclein is capable of causing a form of parkinsonism and may thus help explain the distribution of lesions in typical Parkinson's disease.
Medical conditions, especially those causing pain, like arthritis, or lack of mobility, such as Parkinson's disease, may also contribute to the problem.
Female sex hormones apparently play a role in causing canker sores.
Examples of recently recognized viruses causing encephalitis in humans, livestock, or wildlife include Hendra and Nipah viruses (henipaviruses; family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus), both of which are neurotropic, and Australian bat lyssavirus (family Rhabdoviridae, genus Lyssavirus), also a neurotrope.