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  » Medical Terms Glossary
Patients will find this glossary of medical terms very useful to explain complicated medical terminology.

Click on a letter to view the corresponding section of the glossary:

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Abdomen
The area between the chest and the hips. It contains the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.
Achalasia
The muscle at the end of the esophagus does not relax enough for the passage to open properly.
Activated Charcoal
May help relieve intestinal gas and used in various types of filters to remove toxines.
Acute
A disorder that is sudden and severe but lasts only for a short period of time.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
A progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (lymphoblasts) are found in the blood and bone marrow.
Synonym: ALL or acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
A rapidly progressing disease in which too many immature blood-forming cells are found in the blood and bone marrow. Promyelocytic leukemia is a type of acute myeloid leukemia. Synonyms: AML or acute myelogenous leukemia.
Adenoma
An benign (nonmalignant) tumor of skin tissue
Adrenal Glands
Two organs located on top of the kidneys that release hormones such as adrenalin (epinephrine). This controls the body's use of glucose (sugar).
Adult-onset Diabetes
Synonyms: noninsulin-dependent or type II diabetes.
Adverse Effect, Adverse Event, Adverse Reaction
A harmful result; secondary to drug reactions
Aerophagia
Person swallows too much air causing gas and frequent belching.
AIDS ( Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
Late stage of HIV disease, characterized by weakening of the immune system and susceptible to the opportunistic infections and cancers.
Alactasia
An inherited condition causing the lack of the enzyme needed to digest milk sugar.
Albuminuria
Albumin (protein) in the urine. Albuminuria may be a sign of kidney disease.
Allergy
A condition in which the body is unable to tolerate certain foods, animals, plants, or other substances.
Alopacia
loss of hair
Alpha Cell
Alpha cells are in pancrease that produces and release a hormone called glucagon, which raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Amebiasis
An acute or chronic infection. Symptoms range from mild diarrhea to frequent watery diarrhea, and loss of water and fluids in the body.
Amyotrophy
A type of diabetic neuropathy causing muscle weakness and wasting.
Analgesics
The pain reducing drugs.
Anal Fistula
A canal that develops between the anus and the skin. Fistulas are the result of an abscess (infection) that spreads to the skin.
Anaphylactoid
Similar to anaphylaxis (an immediate allergic reaction)
Anaphylaxis
an immediate allergic reaction to a drug.
Anaplastic
Rapidly growing and multiplying cell (cancer)
Anastomosis
An operation that connects two body parts. For example- removing a part of the intestine during operation and rejoining the two remaining ends.
Anemia
Decreased red blood cells or hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin contains iron.
Anergy
The loss or weakness of immune response to an irritating agent or antigen.
Anorectal Atresia
Lack of a normal opening between the rectum and anus.
Anorexiant
A drug or substance that leads to diminished appetite.
Antacids
Drugs that neutralizes acids and prevents gas in the stomach.
Antagonist
A drug that blocks the action of another drug or substance in the body; insulin and glucagon are antagonists.
Antiandrogen
Antihormone agentsthat used to block the production of male hormones.
Antibiotics
Drugs that fight against infection caused by bacteria.
Antibody, Antibodies
Proteins that the body makes to protect itself from foreign substances; Antibodies, known generally as immunoglobulins, are made and secreted by B lymphocytes in response to stimulation by antigens
Antibody-mediated immunity
Immunity resulting from the activity of antibodies in blood and lymphoid tissue. Also called humoral immunity.
Anticoagulant
A substance that prevents blood clotting; used for prophylaxis or treatment of thromboembolic disorders.
Anticholinergics
Medicines that reduce or stop muscle spasms in the intestine. Examples are dicyclomine (Bentyl) and hyoscyamine (Levsin).
Anticonvulsant
A drug that prevents or relieves convulsions or seizures.
Antidiabetic agent
A drug that control the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood of diabetics.
Antidiarrheals
Drugs that prevent and control diarrhea. An example is loperamide (Imodium).
Antiemetics
Drugs that prevent and control nausea and vomiting. Examples are promethazine (Phenergan) and prochlorperazine (Compazine).
Antifunal
Drugs that treat fungal infections. Antifungal drugs include metronidazole, amphotericin B and nystatin.
Antigen
any substance that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies.
Antiseptic
An agent that kills bacteria. Alcohol is a common antiseptic. Before injecting insulin, many people use alcohol to clean their skin to avoid infection.
Antispasmodics
Drugs that help reduce or stop muscle spasms in the intestines. Examples are dicyclomine (Bentyl) and atropine (Donnatal).
Antiviral
A drug or substance used against viruses. Viruses are very tiny organisms causing infectious disease.
Apendectomy
An operation to remove the appendix.
Appendicitis
Infection of the appendix caused by scarring or blockage. Pain is usually in right lower part of the abdomen.
Appendix
A 4-inch pouch attached to the first part of the large intestine (called cecum).
Arrhythmia
irregular heart beat
Arteriosclerosis
The walls of the arteries get thick and hard due to fat build up inside the walls and slows the blood flow. This often occur in people who have had diabetes for a long time.
Artery
A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Arteries are thicker, stronger and more elastic than that of veins. See also: Blood vessels.
Atheroma
Thickened and degenerated plague of arterial lining. It occurs in the atherosclerosis.
Arthralgia
severe joint pain
Arthritis
Inflammation of the joint. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints and may also affect other parts of the body.
Ascending Colon
The colon on the right side of the abdomen above the cecum.
Ascites
Fluid in the abdomen. It is usually caused by severe liver disease such as cirrhosis or cancer.
Aspartame
sugar substitute that has very few calories.
Astrocytoma
A brain tumor that contains astrocytes. There are different kinds of astrocytomas.
Asymtomatic
Without any symptoms in a condition.
Atherosclerosis
Diseases in which fat accumulates in the large- and medium-sized arteries. This may slow down or stop blood flow. This disease can happen to people who have had diabetes for a long time.
Atonic Colon
Lack of normal muscle tone or strength in the colon. This may be caused by the overuse of laxatives or by Hirschsprung's disease. It may result in chronic constipation. Synonym: lazy colon.
Atopy
An allergic reaction with strong family history
Atresia
Lack of a normal opening from the esophagus, intestines, or anus.
Atrial fibrillation
rapid irregular twitchings of the heart chamber.
Atrophic Gastritis
Chronic irritation of the stomach lining causing shrinking of the stomach lining and glands.
Aura
Seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines occur classic migraine headache.
Atrophy
Decrease in size or wasting of a body part or tissue (especially when body part is not in use).
Autoimmune disease
Disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.
Autonomic neuropathy
A disease of the nerves affecting mostly the internal organs such as the bladder. These nerves function automatically. Synonym: visceral neuropathy.