Learn English – Word/phrase for “treating the problem rather than the symptom”


Is there a word that means the equivalent (or close to) the expression "treat the problem rather than the symptom" ?

If not, is there a concise way to say this?

For example, in discussing healthcare costs I might advocate that we treat the problem (lack of exercise) rather than treating the symptoms of the problem (obesity). I need to explain this clearly and concisely in a bullet point….

Best Answer

Root cause refers to the fundamental reason for the occurrence of a problem.

As Wikipedia describes it: A root cause is an initiating cause of a causal chain which leads to an outcome or effect of interest.

Another way of saying this, in more formal terms is ultimate cause, which is essentially the same as root cause. The complement of ultimate cause is proximate cause, (sometimes used as a legal expression) which is the cause closest to the problem. For example: "The proximate cause of his diabetes is that he is overweight. The ultimate cause is that he does not eat a balanced diet."