The etymology of the term etiology takes us to the Greek word aitiology. At a general level, it can be said that the etiology is the study of the causes of something.
The notion is often used in the field of medicine to refer to the study of the causes of diseases. The etiology, in this framework, analyzes the origin of health disorders, investigating the factors that produce them.
At present, it is understood that a disease needs three factors to develop: a Guest (the organism that gets sick), a agent (the one or that which causes the discomfort or damage) and a environment (the environment). The three factors, according to the etiology, must be concurrent in space and time for the disease to manifest itself.
A virus, a bacterium, a fungus or a parasite, to name a few possibilities, they can act as agents, affecting a human being (the host) who is in a certain area. Once the disease is present in the person, it is important to resort to the etiology to find out its causes since this information helps to define the treatment.
Etiology also recognizes that factors may be facilitators, predisposing, enhancers or triggers. According to sex, age, housing conditions and nutrition, an individual may be more or less likely to contract certain diseases.
Already at the time of Hippocrates of Cos, an important Greek physician who lived in the century of Pericles, physicians asked their patients three key questions to begin the elaboration of the clinic history:
* What happens to him?
* Since when?
* What do you think is the reason?
In other words, the doctor gives the patient the opportunity to express your opinion about the cause of your discomfort. In the 19th century, the chemist Louis Pasteur and the biologist Claude bernardBoth natives of France, they represented two points of view that medicine had studied for a long time: the cause of a disease is a single factor; the cause arises from several factors acting simultaneously.
In this way, the basis of etiology was forged, which, like all human creations, went through different stages. Bernard focused on environmental, internal and external factors; its theory He argued that the disease arose from having lost internal balance, something that usually occurs due to a long list of factors.
For his part, Pasteur devoted his efforts to discovering what role the bacteria in the appearance of a disease, and for this he related several diseases with certain microbes. His theories were widely accepted because he was able to demonstrate several of these relationships.
This discussion, which laid the foundations for etiology, leaned in Pasteur’s favor, and thus physicians began to accept that diseases are caused by specific microbes. A scientific German called Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch it was he who formulated the concept of scientific etiology, properly speaking.
Biology advanced greatly during the nineteenth century thanks to the development of the technology focused on medicine, which led to the creation of diagnostic instruments such as the stethoscope and devices to measure blood pressure, in addition to promoting the sophistication of surgery. This growth contributed to the definition of the etiology, since it gave doctors more tools to find the causes of diseases, without forgetting that it also enhanced the effectiveness of treatments.
It is important not to confuse etiology with ethology: this last term refers to the specialty of biology that is dedicated to studying how animals behave animals.