In medicine and psychology, a syndrome is the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs (observed by someone other than the patient), symptoms (reported by the patient), phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one or more features alerts the healthcare provider to the possible presence of the others. 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 συνδρομή (sundromē) and means "concurrence of symptoms, concourse", from σύν (syn), "along with, together" + δρόμος (dromos), amongst others "course".
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 "eponymous" 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, history or poetry, can lend their names to syndromes.
Subsyndromal conditions or formes fruste 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 is a set of symptoms where there is no evidence of an underlying biological cause, and that is recognized as a "disease" only 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 relationship, i.e., there is likely to be a separate underlying problem or risk factor that explains the association. An example would be Down syndrome, which has the associated condition of diabetes mellitus. A knowledge of associated conditions would dictate that they are specifically looked for in the management of the syndrome.
One recent case study is acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), so-named because most syndromal immune deficiencies are inborn genetic disorders, rather than something that a previously healthy person can acquire. AIDS was originally termed "gay-related immune deficiency" (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) was first described, finally explaining the hitherto mysterious "syndrome".
- συνδρομή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- σύν, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- δρόμος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Thiel V (editor). (2007). Coronaviruses: Molecular and Cellular Biology (1st ed.). Caister Academic Press. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-904455-16-5]|978-1-904455-16-5]]].
- Lenn Evan Goodman (2003), Islamic Humanism, p. 155, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-513580-6.
- Natelson, Benjamin H. (1998). Facing and fighting fatigue: a practical approach. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-300-07401-8.
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