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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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B lymphocyte (B cell)
B lymphocytes are white blood cells of the immune system that are derived from the bone marrow and spleen. B cells develop into plasma cells, which produce antibodies.
Background retinopathy
Early stage of diabetic retinopathy; usually does not impair vision. Synonyms - nonproliferative retinopathy.
Bacterial Toxin
A poison produced by a bacteria that kills specific cells in the body.
Barium
A chalky liquid used to coat the inside of bowels that can be detected on an x-ray.
Barrett's Esophagus
Peptic ulcer of the lower esophagus.
Basilar artery migraine
A form of migraine headache that causes vertigo, double vision, and poor muscular coordination. It involves a disturbance of a major brain artery. It occurs primarily in young women with menstruation.
Benign
It does not spread or invade to other parts of the body.Noncancerous
Benign exertional headache
Headache brought on by exertion such as running, lifting, coughing, sneezing, or bending.
Beta cell
Beta cells are in pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Bezoar
A ball of food, mucus, vegetable fiber, hair, or other material that cannot be digested in the stomach. Bezoars can cause blockage, ulcers, and bleeding.
Bile
Fluid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps break down fats and gets rid of wastes in the body.
Bile Acids
Acids produce in the liver and work with bile to break down fats.
Bile Ducts
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in digestion.
Biliary Atresia
A condition in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings. Bile gets trapped in the liver, causing jaundice and cirrhosis.
Biliary Stricture
A narrowing of the biliary tract from scar tissue resulting from injury, disease, pancreatitis, infection, or gallstones.
Biliary Tract
The gallbladder and the bile ducts. Synonyms biliary system or biliary tree.
Bilirubin
The substance formed when hemoglobin breaks down. Increased bilirubin causes jaundice. Bilirubin is normally passed in stool.
Biofeedback
a technique in which patients are trained to gain some voluntary control over certain physiological conditions, such as blood pressure and headache, to help relaxation.
Biopsy
The removal of tissue, which is then examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
Bismuth Subsalicylate
Pepto-Bismol is used to treat diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. It causes black stools.
Bloating
Swelling in the abdomen that often occurs after meals.
Blood Glucose
The sugar is the major source of energy for the body and is produced from food (fats and proteins).Insulin is needed for sugar to get into the cells.
Blood Glucose Meter
A machine that reads how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. A specially coated strip containing a fresh sample of blood is inserted in a machine, then calculates the correct level of glucose in the blood sample and shows the result in a digital display.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Testing how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. A drop of blood from the fingertip is placed on the end of a coated strip, called a testing strip. The strip has a chemical on it that makes it change colors depending on how much glucose is in the blood. The level of glucose is determined in two ways. One way is by comparing the color on the end of the strip to a color chart that is printed on the side of the test strip container. The other way is by inserting the strip into a small machine, called a meter, which "reads" the strip and shows the level of blood glucose in a digital window display. Blood testing is more accurate than urine testing in monitoring blood glucose levels because it shows what the present level of glucose is, rather than what the level was an hour or so earlier.
Blood Pressure
The force of the blood on the walls of arteries. Two levels of blood pressure are measured-the higher( systolic pressure) which occurs each time the heart pumps blood into the vessels, and the lower (diastolic pressure) which occurs when the heart rests. A reading of 120/80 is said to be the normal range. If blood pressure is too high that can cause health problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
Blood Sugar
See: Blood glucose
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
A waste product of the kidneys. Increased levels of BUN in the blood may indicate early kidney damage.
Blood Vessel
Tubes that act like a system of canals to carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries. When heart pumps these vessels carry the blood with oxygen and nutrients that the cells need or take away waste that the cells do not need.Bone marrow
Borborygmi
Rumbling sounds caused by gas moving through the intestines.
Borderline diabetes
A term no longer used. See: Impaired glucose tolerance.
Bowel
Also called the small and large intestines.
Brittle diabetes
A term used when a person's blood glucose (sugar) level often swings quickly from high to low and from low to high. Synonyms are labile and unstable diabetes.
Bronchoscopy
A procedure in which a flexible lighted tube is inserted through the throat to see the lungs. It may be used to detect lung cancer or to do some treatment procedures.
Bronchus
A large passageway for air in the lungs.
Bronze Diabetes
A genetic disease of the liver in which the body takes in too much iron from food. Synonyms= hemocromatosis.
Budd-Chiary Syndrome
A rare liver disease in which the veins that drain blood from the liver are blocked or narrowed.
Bulking Agents
Laxatives that make bowel movements soft and easy to pass.