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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 ?
have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe.
bishops, who normally would not have much dealing with their African brethren, have made common cause with them over this," Barrett says.
But make no mistake: The criminals who are responsible for these deaths and injuries are the same people who abused and tortured Iraq for 35 years and terrorists who have made common cause with them.
Or maybe a doctor will open up to me because we've made common cause around iniquities of HMO paperwork or the vicissitudes of residency.
The election placed control in the hands of the faction led by President Enrique Bolanos, which had made common cause with the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN).
The CCCB's permanent council made common cause with the alternative peoples' summit, calling for greater transparency in free trade deliberations and for the voice of the people to be heard.
During the war -- to grossly over simplify a nightmarishly complex situation -- the Maronites made common cause with Israel, and Muslims and Druze tended to look to their Muslim Arab brothers for salvation from Christian domination.
This is the man who made common cause over NAFTA with the racist bigot and Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan-imagine if George W.
The CSU, the Bavarian wing of the German Christian Democrat party, now in opposition, has made common cause with the controversial FPo leader, Jorg Haider.
chosen] to carry out this program quickly made common cause with the Tibetans.
More significantly, dissident arms control experts made common cause with grassroots activists and exploited activist efforts to strengthen their position and influence within government.
Further, the head of the Colonna family fled to France, made common cause with King Philip IV, and helped him in the invasion of Italy that led to the arrest of Boniface at Anagni and the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity.