In medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, a syndrome is the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs (observed by a physician), symptom
A symptom is a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality...

s (reported by the patient), phenomena
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

 or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one or more features alerts the physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 to the possible presence of the others. Specific syndromes tend to have a range of possible etiologies or diseases that could create such a set of circumstances. I.e. there is an important distinction between Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

 and a Parkinsonian syndrome, whereby the latter could be caused by the former, but also by other conditions such as a progressive supranuclear palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a degenerative disease involving the gradual deterioration and death of specific areas of the brain....

 or multiple system atrophy
Multiple system atrophy
Multiple system atrophy is a degenerative neurological disorder. MSA is associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. This cell degeneration causes problems with movement, balance and other autonomic functions of the body such as bladder control or blood pressure...

. In other words, in a medical setting, a syndrome might narrow down the possible diseases a patient may possess, just as speaking English might focus a guess as to the country in which that person originates.

In recent decades, the term has been used outside medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association.

The term syndrome derives from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 συνδρομή (sundromē) and means "concurrence of symptoms, concourse", from σύν (sun), "along with, together" + δρόμος (dromos), amongst others "course". It is most often used to refer to the set of detectable characteristics when the reason that they occur together (the pathophysiology
Pathophysiology is the study of the changes of normal mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions, either caused by a disease, or resulting from an abnormal syndrome...

 of the syndrome) has not yet been discovered. A familiar syndrome name often continues to be used even after an underlying cause has been found, or when there are a number of different primary causes that all give rise to the same combination of symptoms and signs. Many syndromes are named after the physicians credited with first reporting the association; these are "eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous" syndromes (see also the list of eponymous diseases, many of which are called "syndromes"). Otherwise, disease features or presumed causes, as well as references to geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, history
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 or poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, can lend their names to syndromes.

Related concepts

Subsyndromal conditions or formes fruste
Forme fruste
In medicine, a forme fruste is an atypical or attenuated manifestation of a disease or syndrome, with the implication of incompleteness, partial presence or aborted state...

are those medical conditions that do not meet full criteria for a diagnosis, for example because the symptoms are fewer or less severe than a defined syndrome, but that nevertheless can be identified and related to the "full-blown" syndrome.

A culture-bound syndrome
Culture-bound syndrome
In medicine and medical anthropology, a culture-bound syndrome, culture-specific syndrome or folk illness is a combination of psychiatric and somatic symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture...

 is a set of symptoms where there is no evidence of an underlying biological cause, and that is only recognized as a "disease" in a particular culture.

Syndromes and associated conditions

The description of a syndrome usually includes a number of essential characteristics, which when concurrent lead to the diagnosis of the condition. Frequently these are classified as a combination of typical major symptoms and signs—essential to the diagnosis—together with minor findings, some or all of which may be absent. A formal description may specify the minimum number of major and minor findings respectively, that are required for the diagnosis.

In contrast to the major and minor findings typical of the syndrome, there may be an association with other conditions, meaning that in persons with the specified syndrome these associated conditions occur more frequently than would be expected by chance. While the syndrome and the associated conditions may be statistically related, they do not have a clear cause and effect
Cause and effect
Cause and effect refers to the philosophical concept of causality, in which an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event....

 relationship, i.e., there is likely to be a separate underlying problem or risk factor
Risk factor
In epidemiology, a risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease or infection. Sometimes, determinant is also used, being a variable associated with either increased or decreased risk.-Correlation vs causation:...

 that explains the association. An example would be Down syndrome
Down syndrome
Down syndrome, or Down's syndrome, trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The condition was clinically described earlier in the 19th...

, which has the associated condition of diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced...

. A knowledge of associated conditions would dictate that they are specifically looked for in the management of the syndrome.


One recent case study
Case study
A case study is an intensive analysis of an individual unit stressing developmental factors in relation to context. The case study is common in social sciences and life sciences. Case studies may be descriptive or explanatory. The latter type is used to explore causation in order to find...

 is acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

), so-named because most syndromal immune deficiencies are inborn genetic disorder
Genetic disorder
A genetic disorder is an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes, especially a condition that is present from before birth. Most genetic disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions....

s, rather than something that a previously healthy person can acquire. AIDS was originally termed "gay-related immune deficiency
Gay-related immune deficiency
Gay-related immune deficiency was the 1982 name first proposed to describe what is now known as AIDS, after public health scientists noticed clusters of Kaposi's sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia among gay males in Southern California and New York City.During the early history of AIDS, when it was...

" (GRID), a name revised as the disease turned out to also affect heterosexuals. Several years passed after the recognition of AIDS before HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 (human immunodeficiency virus) was first described, finally explaining the hitherto mysterious "syndrome".

Severe acute respiratory syndrome
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus . Between November 2002 and July 2003 an outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong nearly became a pandemic, with 8,422 cases and 916 deaths worldwide according to the WHO...

 (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is an even more recent example of a syndrome in medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 that was later explained with the identification of a causative coronavirus
Coronaviruses are species in the genera of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and a helical symmetry. The genomic size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 16 to 31...



Ibn Sina
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 (Avicenna, 980-1037), in The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

, pioneered the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases.

The concept of a medical syndrome was further developed in the 17th century by Thomas Sydenham
Thomas Sydenham
Thomas Sydenham was an English physician. He was born at Wynford Eagle in Dorset, where his father was a gentleman of property. His brother was Colonel William Sydenham. Thomas fought for the Parliament throughout the English Civil War, and, at its end, resumed his medical studies at Oxford...


See also

Category:Syndromes lists articles about specific medical syndromes.
  • Child development
    Child development
    Child development stages describe theoretical milestones of child development. Many stage models of development have been proposed, used as working concepts and in some cases asserted as nativist theories....

  • Toxidrome
    Toxidrome is a syndrome caused by a dangerous level of toxins in the body. The term was coined in 1970 by Mofenson and Greensher. It is often the consequence of a drug overdose. Common symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, and oscillopsia...

  • Withdrawal syndrome
    Withdrawal can refer to any sort of separation, but is most commonly used to describe the group of symptoms that occurs upon the abrupt discontinuation/separation or a decrease in dosage of the intake of medications, recreational drugs, and alcohol...

External links

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