Etiology is the study of the origin and causes of disease. It focuses on the early stages of a disease and how it originated. Often more than one factor is involved. Etiology also examines risk factors that are specific to a disease. For example, there are genetic factors for Parkinson’s disease, but exposure to well water or pesticides in rural areas may also be linked. Other risk factors include being in certain professions.
Virchow’s description of necrotizing granulomatous inflammation preceded the discovery of the etiologic agents.
The clinical manifestations of necrotizing granulomatous inflammatory disease vary widely, but some common factors are characteristic of this condition. It is characterized by the presence of mononuclear leukocytes in response to various inflammatory and cytotoxic chemicals. It affects all age groups and is present in many different tissues. It manifests as a characteristic granulomatous inflammatory cell, or histiocyte, with an irregular nucleus, abundant granular eosinophilic cytoplasm, and irregular contours. When the cells fuse, they form multinucleated giant cells.
Virchow’s description of necrotizing granulomatous inflammation demonstrates the importance of the immune system in developing the disease. The immune system initiates a robust and sustained T cell-mediated inflammatory response, which recruits inflammatory leukocytes. These cells converge around the site of invasion and phagocytize the pathogen.
The human ability to remember the past
The human brain stores different memories, including short-term and long-term memories. The hippocampus is the area where autobiographical memories take shape and become permanent. In this region, chemicals called neurotransmitters are sent across synapses to form connections between neurons. Each neuron is connected to thousands of others.
Memory involves three stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval. When we learn something new, the brain builds connections representing that information, which can link to other information in the memory. The brain also maintains connections that have already been formed during previous learning, such as when we are in school. This process requires that we pay attention to creating a new connection, and these connections remain active even when we are not using the information.
A new study suggests that humans can remember details about the past. People with highly-developed autobiographical memory (HSAM) can recall almost every event in their life. This ability is rare, but studies continue to try to understand how the brain processes memories.
Influence of culture on etiology
Cultural differences in the expression and meaning of illness can affect diagnosis and treatment. In Asian patients, for example, physical symptoms are more likely to be reported than emotional ones, and a patient’s cultural background may influence their symptom presentation and perception. While Asian patients may acknowledge emotional symptoms, they may not express them in a culturally acceptable manner.
Understanding the differences between cultures can help physicians identify the most appropriate course of treatment for each patient. In this way, they can provide more personalized care. In addition, demonstrating sensitivity to patient cultures can improve communication with patients and increase the odds of successful diagnosis and treatment.