Medical Terms

  • Acquired immunity: Immunity acquired by infection or vaccination or by the transfer of antibody or lymphocytes from an immune donor.
  • Acute: the rapid-onset, short-term initial stage of a disease.
  • Abdominal pain: is a pain in the belly. Abdominal pain can be acute or chronic.
  • Adhesions: Scarring that binds together the surfaces of tissues
  • Adverse reaction: An unwanted effect attributed to a medication or therapy.
  • Analgesic: A medication or treatment that relieves pain.
  • Anemia: The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells.
  • Angiitis: also known as vasculitis, is a rare condition that refers to inflammation of the blood vessels.
  • Antibody: A protein molecule made by the immune system in response to a foreign invader (antigen), like bacteria or a virus. The antibody binds itself to the antigen and either kills it or marks it for attack by other cells.
  • Antigen: A substance or organism, like a virus, that the immune system recognizes and tries to eliminate.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Capable of reducing inflammation, an immune system reaction to infection and foreign substances.
  • Arthritis: Literally means joint inflammation, but is often used to indicate a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases. These diseases affect the joints and other connective tissues of the body.
  • Arthroscopic surgery: Repairing the interior of a joint by inserting a microscope-like device and surgical tools through small cuts rather than one, large surgical cut.
  • Autoantibody: An antibody that reacts against a person's own cells and tissues.
  • Autoimmune disease: An illness that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.
  • Autoimmunity: A condition in which the body produces an immune response against its own tissue constituents.
  • Benign: Not life-threatening.
  • Beta blockers: A class of medications which lowers blood pressure and reduces the heart's demand for oxygen.
  • Bile: A yellowish-green fluid produced by the liver that aids in the digestion of fats and the excretion of toxins.
  • Biologics: A relatively new class of medications based on compounds made by living cells. These compounds "block" specific actions of the immune system that fuel inflammation and tissue destruction.
  • Biomarkers: Biologic molecules that can indicate if a particular illness is present, and/or how it's progressing.
  • Biopsy: A procedure in which a sample of cells or tissue is taken for laboratory examination.
  • Bladder:A muscular organ in which urine is stored.
  • Bullae: Skin blisters filled with fluid or air.
  • Bursa: A small sac of tissue with fluid located between a bone and other moving structures such as muscles, skin, or tendons.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation or irritation of a bursa
  • Carrier: A person who carries a gene for a recessive genetic disorder. The person has the potential to pass the disorder on to his or her child, but is not personally affected by the disorder.
  • Cataracts: Clouding of the lens of the eye.
  • Chronic disease: An illness that lasts for a long time, often a lifetime.
  • Cirrhosis: Scarring of the liver and poor liver function. It is the final phase of chronic liver disease.
  • Clinical: Relating to the treatment of patients. A clinical observation is based on a person's observed condition and symptoms, as distinguished from laboratory findings.
  • Colitis: Inflammation of the large intestine (the colon).
  • Collagen: The principal protein of the skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, and other connective tissues.
  • Colon: The long, coiled, tube-like organ that removes water from digested food. Also known as large bowel and large intestine.
  • Colonoscopy: A procedure whereby a physician inserts a viewing tube (colonoscope) into the rectum for the purpose of inspecting the colon.
  • Connective tissue: The supporting framework of the body and its internal organs.
  • Corticosteroids: Synthetic preparations of cortisol, which is a hormone produced by the body. Corticosteroids block the immune system's production of substances that trigger allergic and inflammatory responses. Corticosteroids are often referred to by the shortened term "steroids."
  • Demyelinating disease: Any disease of the nervous system in which the myelin sheath, which protects the nerves, is damaged.
  • DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs): A class of medications that can slow or potentially stop the activity of autoimmune disease, often by suppressing the overactive immune system.
  • Digestive system: The organs (mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus) associated with ingestion and digestion of food.
  • Disease: An abnormal condition that affects the body of an organism. It is often construed as a
  • Medical condition A term associated with specific symptoms and signs.
  • Dysarthria: A disorder characterized by slurred speech due to weakness or incoordination of the muscles involved in speaking.
  • Dysphagia: is trouble swallowing.
  • Dermatologist: A doctor who treats problems of the skin, hair, and nails.
  • Dermis: The layer of skin cells under the uppermost layer, the epidermis.
  • Desmoglein: Proteins in the cells of the skin that form the "glue" that connects adjacent skin cells, keeping the skin intact.
  • Elastin: A major protein component of tissues that depend upon elasticity.
  • Edema: The swelling of a cell that results from the influx of large amounts of water or fluid into the cell.
  • Endocrine system:  The collection of glands, each of which secretes different types of hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, among other things.
  • Endoscopy: A method of examining the interior of a body cavity or hollow organ (e.g., esophagus, stomach) using an endoscope, a narrow, flexible fiber optic instrument that conducts light.
  • Estrogen:A female hormone produced in the ovaries.
  • Epicondylitis: A painful and sometimes disabling swelling of the tissues of the elbow.
  • Fibromyalgia: A condition characterized by pain throughout the body, often accompanied by fatigue.
  • Fibrous capsule: A tough wrapping of tendons and ligaments that surrounds the joint.
  • Flare (flare-up): A sudden, acute worsening of disease symptoms.
  • Gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the stomach and the intestines.
  • Gastrointestinal: Having to do with the digestive system, especially the stomach and intestines.
  • Gene: The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes contain hereditary information encoded in the form of DNA (or RNA in some viruses).
  • Genetic predisposition: Any condition in which genetic makeup leaves the individual more susceptible to disease.
  • Glaucoma: Abnormally high fluid pressure in the eye that can lead to vision loss or blindness.
  • Hemoglobin: The oxygen-carrying pigment and predominant protein in the red blood cells.
  • Hepatitis C: An infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation.
  • Heritable: Capable of being transmitted from parent to child through genes.
  • Hormone: A substance produced by the body to control the functions of various organs.
  • Hyperhydrosis: excessive sweating
  • Hypersensitivity vasculitis (HV): Often used to describe different types of vasculitis related to drug reactions, skin disorders or allergies.
  • Hypocretin, also called Orexin, is a neurotransmitter that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite.
  • Hyporeflexia: A decreased response of deep tendon reflexes, usually due to injury of the central nervous system or metabolic disease.
  • Hyperthyroidism: increased thyroid gland activity and thyroid hormone overproduction.
  • Hypothyroidism: decreased thyroid gland activity and reduced thyroid hormone production.
  • Idiopathic: Of unknown cause. Any disease that is of uncertain or unknown origin.
  • Ibuprofen: A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Advil, Aleve, and Motrin are common brand names.
  • Immune-mediated diseases: conditions that result from abnormal activity of the body's immune system. Autoimmune diseases are a subset of immune-mediated diseases.
  • Immune response: The activity of the immune system, against an outside invader (e.g., bacteria, virus), cancerous cells, or the body's own tissues.
  • Immune system: A complex network of specialized cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by "foreign" invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Organs of the immune system include the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and tonsils.
  • Immunofluorescence: A laboratory test on a tissue or blood sample that is used to detect antibodies. The specific antibodies are labeled with a compound that makes them glow when observed microscopically under ultraviolet light.
  • Immunoglobulin: An antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity.
  • Immunosuppressant: A medication that suppresses the immune response and can be used to treat autoimmune disease.
  • Immunosuppressed: having a weakened immune system.
  • Immunotherapy (immune-based therapy): A therapy that attempts to modify or enhance the immune response or reconstitute a damaged immune system.
  • Infection: Invasion of the body tissues by bacteria or other tiny organisms that cause illness.
  • Inflammation: An immune system reaction to infection and foreign substances, marked by swelling, heat, redness and pain.
  • Infusion: direct injection (e.g., of a drug, nutrients) into the bloodstream.
  • Insulin: The hormone that helps regulate glucose levels in the blood.
  • Jaundice: a yellow discoloration of the skin, mucus membranes and whites of the eyes.
  • Joint: A junction where two bones meet. Most joints are composed of cartilage, joint space, fibrous capsule, synovium, and ligaments.
  • Latent: hidden, dormant, inactive.
  • Ligaments: bands of cordlike tissue that connect bone to bone.
  • Leukocytes: A small white blood cell (leukocyte) that plays a large role in defending the body against disease.
  • Mucous membrane: A moist layer of outer tissue that comes into contact with air.
  • Muscle: A tissue that has the ability to contract, producing movement or force. There are three types: striated muscle, which is attached to the skeleton; smooth muscle, which is found in such tissues as the stomach and blood vessels; and cardiac muscle, which forms the walls of the heart.
  • Mutations: Changes in genes that can occur randomly or as a result of some factor in the environment.
  • Myelin: A white fatty substance that forms a sheath around the axons of neurons (nerve cells) and provides the insulation necessary for the proper transmission of electrical impulses.
  • Myokymia: small muscle contractions that can occur in any muscle group.
  • Myopathy: muscle inflammation, damage, or disease.
  • Myositis: An inflammation or swelling of the muscles often caused by injury, infection, or an autoimmune disorder.
  • Myxedema: A condition associated with hypothyroidism includes dry hair and skin; thickened skin of the lips; puffy eyelids; thinning of eyebrows, slow, low-pitched speech; and slowness of thinking.
  • Narcolepsy: A neurological disorder, stemming from the brain’s inability to regulate periods of sleep and wakefulness.
  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): A class of medications (aspirin-like) that work to reduce pain, fever and inflammation.
  • Neuron: The functional cell of the brain and nervous system specialized to carry "messages" through an electrochemical process.
  • Neutropenia: an abnormally low number of white blood cells
  • Oophoritis: an inflammation of ovaries.
  • Orchitis: an inflammation of the testis with mild testicular pain or swelling.
  • Patella: A flat triangular bone located at the front of the knee joint. Also called the kneecap.
  • Pemphigus: A group of autoimmune blistering diseases of the skin and mucous membranes.
  • Petechiae: tiny red or purple dots on the skin.
  • Pituitary gland: A pea-sized gland at the base of the skull that secretes hormones essential to bodily functioning.
  • Platelets: Small blood components produced in the bone marrow that helps the clotting process by sticking to the lining of blood vessels.
  • Polyangiitis: inflammation involving multiple blood or lymph vessels.
  • Protein: The building blocks of life. The body needs protein to repair and maintain itself.
  • Pseudohypertrophy: abnormal enlargement of any body structure caused by an overgrowth of fatty and fibrous tissues.
  • Psoriasis: A skin condition characterized by scaling and red patches, due to the overproduction of skin cells.
  • Purpura:  purple bruises under the skin caused by bleeding from small blood vessels.
  • Quadriceps muscle: The large muscle at the front of the thigh.
  • Radius: The larger of the two bones in the forearm.
  • Recessive: A genetic trait or disorder that is usually expressed when only two copies of a gene for that trait, one from each parent, are present.
  • Red blood cell: The blood cell that carries oxygen.
  • Rectum:The last part of the digestive tract.
  • Remission: A term used when symptoms of a disease decrease or disappear.
  • Resection: The surgical removal of part of an organ.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition characterized by joint inflammation and destruction of connective tissue; other organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and skin, may also be affected.
  • Rheumatology: The study and treatment of conditions of the joints, muscles, bones, and connective tissues.
  • Rotator cuff: A set of muscles and tendons that secures the arm to the shoulder blade and permits rotation of the arm.
  • Sleep disorder: A disorder in which a person has difficulty achieving restful, restorative sleep.
  • Stenosis: An abnormal narrowing in a blood vessel or other tubular organ or structure.
  • Steroids: A family of substances that share a similar chemical structure, including certain hormones (e.g., testosterone) and various drugs. "Steroids" is often used as a shortened form of Corticosteroids.
  • Support group: A group of peers with a common condition that meet for mutual emotional support or education.
  • Syndrome: A medical condition characterized by a collection of symptoms (what the patient feels) and signs (what a doctor can observe or measure).
  • Synovium is a soft, thin, layer of tissue that lines the joint space.
  • Systemic: Involving the whole body.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation or irritation of a tendon.
  • Tendons: fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone.
  • Thymus gland: A gland in the chest that plays an important role in immune system function; the gland is active in children, but less so in adults.
  • Thyroid gland: An organ at base of the neck that produces thyroxin and other hormones involved in regulating metabolism.
  • Tinnitus: ringing or buzzing in the ears.
  • Ulcer: A lesion that is eroding away the skin or mucous membrane.
  • Uterus:A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.
  • Vasculitis: blood vessel inflammation.
  • Vesicle: A blister or a small abnormal elevation of the outer layer of skin enclosing a watery liquid.
  • White blood cell: One of the cells the body makes to help fight infections.