Medical Glossary

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Accelerated Silicosis:

Occurs after exposure to large amounts of silica over a short period of time (5 – 15 years). Swelling in the lungs and symptoms occur faster than in simple silicosis.

Acute Silicosis:

Results from short-term exposure to very large amounts of silica. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels.

Adrenal Glands:

A pair of glands near the kidneys that produce hormones to help control vital body functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and more.

Affective Disorder:

A mental disorder characterized by consistent alterations to a person’s mood and personality.

Alzheimer’s Disease:

This is a degenerative brain disease that usually begins later in life, causes you to lose your memory, and causes general disorientation. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


A massive swelling of the organs caused by a blockage of fluid in the tissues.


Anemia is a blood condition in which a person’s blood has lower-than-normal numbers of red blood cells, causing his or her body to have an insufficient amount of oxygen in the blood.


A neurological disorder characterized by impaired communication and social interaction skills that begins before a child is three years of age.

Autoimmune Disorders:

A large group of diseases characterized by the malfunction of a body’s immune system that causes it to attack itself.

Black Box Warning:

A black box warning is the strongest warning administrated by the FDA to warn consumers of the risks associated with using a product. The warning appears on the product’s labeling and is outlined by a black box.

Calcaneus Avulsion Fracture:

A fracture to the heel bone of the foot.

Care Planning Meeting:

A care planning meeting—or comprehensive needs assessment—is required for every long-term care or nursing home resident. By law, an elderly care facility must develop a written care plan within the first seven days of resident’s admission. The care plan should be updated quarterly and each time the resident has a significant change in his or her condition.

Catastrophic Injuries:

Life-changing events, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and death.


A bacterial infection of the skin that causes redness, pain, and swelling.


Located in the lower region of the brain, the cerebellum regulates movement-related functions. It also helps control responses to feelings of pleasure and fear.

Cerebral Perfusion:

The passage of blood flow through the brain.

Certified Athletic Trainer:

A health professional certified to assist athletes by monitoring and preventing injury and medical emergencies.


The Civilian Heath and Medical Program of the Veterans Administration (CHAMPVA) is a veteran’s health insurance program that covers the families of veterans who are either permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty.

Chromosomal Disorders:

An abnormality in a person’s chromosomes that causes intellectual disabilities or other mental or physical defects.

Chronic Silicosis:

Results from long-term exposure (more than 20 years) to low amounts of silica dust. The silica dust causes swelling in the lungs and chest lymph nodes. This disease may cause people to have trouble breathing. This is the most common form of silicosis.

Cleft Lip:

A deformed gap in the lip that occurs during a fetus’s development in the womb.

Cleft Palate:

An opening in the roof of the mouth (the palate) due to a failure of the palatal shelves to come fully together from either side of the mouth and fuse, as they normally should, during embryonic development.


The thickening of blood into a clot or jelly-like substance.

Cochlear Implantation:

A surgically implanted device that allows a deaf person to hear using electrodes which send pulses to the brain to transmit sound.

Cognitive Therapy and Retraining:

This is a form of short-term psychotherapy in which negative thought patterns are challenged in order to retrain a behavior or reoccurring emotional distress. This method uses problem solving and communication rather than focusing on past experiences.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:

A chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain, swelling, and changes in the skin.


A concussion is considered a minor traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and is the most common brain injury. Though medical monitoring is required, concussions usually heal more quickly and completely than more serious traumatic brain injuries.

Congenital Anomalies:

Birth defects or abnormalities in the body’s structure, such as missing limbs.

Congenital Disorder:

This is a disorder developed in the womb that causes defects or damage to a growing fetus. Sometimes congenital disorders can be caused by a mother’s exposure to antibiotics or petroleum during pregnancy.

Coup Contrecoup Injury:

A forceful impact to the body that causes the brain to be shaken inside the skull.

Deep Vein Thrombosis:

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which the blood clots in one or more areas of the body, usually in the legs. DVT can develop from sitting over long periods of time or from medication that affects the body’s blood flow.

Down Syndrome (non-Mosaic):

A developmental disability caused by an extra chromosome in the body that delays intellectual and physical growth and development.

Duodenal Rupture:

An eruption in part of the small intestine.


A movement disorder that causes a person to have involuntary tics, tremors, or other uncontrollable movements in the body.

Dysmorphic Syndromes:

Otherwise known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), this syndrome is characterized by an extreme obsession with an imagined defect or body image that causes depression, anxiety, and social isolation, along with the strong feeling that the person’s appearance or health would be better if the healthy body part was removed.

E. Coli Infection:

A condition that results from consuming food or water contaminated with microscopic amounts of feces. In a small percentage of exposures, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur several weeks after the first onset, which can cause profuse bleeding, anemia, and kidney failure.

Endocrine System:

The system of glands that produce and release hormones into the bloodstream to help regulate metabolism functions in the body.


A medical procedure that allows a physician to look inside a person’s body by inserting a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube through the mouth or nose.

Frontal Lobe:

The frontal lobe is located in the front area of the brain and deals with memory tasks, planning, social responses, and other higher mental functions.


Death of tissue in part of the body that can spread and become deadly if not stopped by amputation of that body part.


A physician who specializes in the digestive system.

Genitourinary System:

Also referred to as the urogenital system, the genitourinary system produces and eliminates urine from the body.


A physician who specializes in the treatment of elderly patients.

Heart Arrhythmias:

An arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats irregular as a result of the electrical impulses in the heart. It may cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow.

Heat Inhalation:

Lung burns that occur by directly breathing in intense heat from a fire.


A procedure that uses a man-made membrane to help remove waste and restore proper electrolytes to the blood when weakened kidneys are unable to function properly on their own.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS):

This is a condition caused by the abnormal premature destruction of red blood cells that causes filtering problems in the kidneys, sometimes resulting in life-threatening kidney failure.

Home Assistance:

Assistance provided for the elderly or disabled in the comfort of their own homes which can include: cooking, cleaning, feeding, dressing, bathing, and more.


A condition caused by elevated levels of potassium in the blood.


A male birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis.

Ischemic Blockage:

When the artery that carries blood to a person’s heart becomes blocked, decreasing the heart’s oxygen supply.

Labyrinthine-vestibular Function:

An inner ear function that provides human bodies with a sense of balance and helps to regulate eye movements.


Listeriosis is a potentially fatal foodborne illness caused by a bacterium called listeria that occasionally is found in fresh produce. The illness’s flu-like symptoms can appear any time from a few days to several weeks after the contaminated food is consumed. Listeriosis poses the greatest threat to pregnant women, elderly, and others who have weakened immune systems.

Malignant Neoplastic Diseases:

Any infectious growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division that quickly spreads through the body.

Mental Retardation:

This is a generalized term that includes cognitive disorders—formed before adulthood—that limit a person’s functioning or adaptive behaviors. Generally, a person who has an IQ below 70 is considered to have a mental retardation.


The mesothelium is the thin lining that surrounds the organs and body cavities. Cancer of the mesothelium—or mesothelioma—is caused by exposure to asbestos and usually doesn’t appear until 20 to 50 years after the exposure.

Metabolic Disorders:

These disorders are caused by abnormal chemical reactions in the body that disrupt the body’s proper process of turning food into energy, which causes a nutrition imbalance.

Mosaic Down Syndrome:

Mosaic Down syndrome is a developmental disability caused by extra chromosomes in a person’s cells. Unlike those who have non-Mosaic Down syndrome, people with Mosaic Down syndrome don’t have an extra chromosome present in every cell—only in some. As a result, they are likely to have a higher IQ than those with non-mosaic Down syndrome, but they usually suffer from the same health issues.

Musculoskeletal System:

The term used for the muscular and skeletal systems that give animals and humans the ability to move, support, and stabilize their bodies.


The death of most or all of the cells in a particular organ or tissue caused by injury, disease, infection, or blood supply failure.

Nephritic Syndrome:

This inflammation in the kidney affects the filtering of waste from the blood to create urine. As a result, excess fluid builds up in the body and blood appears in the urine.


A physician who specializes in treating conditions of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.


A medical specialist who is dedicated to the study of brain-behavior relationships and mental disorders caused by diseases or injuries to the nervous system.


A doctor of psychology (not medical) that concentrates on the brain and its functions.


Norovirus is a virus that when consumed usually causes mild illness, but is the leading cause of foodborne deaths simply because it is the most common pathogen. Nursing home residents and those with children in childcare should be particularly cautious because the disease is very contagious.

Nursing Home:

A nursing home is a facility licensed by the state to offer 24-hour skilled nursing care and personal assistance for those who require constant supervision. These homes provide nursing, personal care, room and board, supervision, medication, therapies, and rehabilitation. Rooms are often shared, and communal dining is common. Some nursing homes have special care units for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other serious memory disorders.

Occipital Lobe:

The occipital lobe is the area of the brain that generates dreams and aids with visual perception and color recognition.

Occupational Disease:

A chronic ailment that is caused by an occupational—or work-related—activity.

Occupational Therapy:

Therapy designed to assist patients who have suffered from debilitating illnesses or injuries that re-trains their bodies and brains to perform daily activities and functions.


This organ is located behind the stomach and regulates the amount of insulin—or sugar regulators—the body produces. Pancreas malfunctions are linked to diabetes and other serious health issues.


Although the exact number of parathyroid glands a person has can vary, generally, there are four. These glands release a hormone called parathormone (or parathyrin) that is important in the regulation of a person’s metabolism.

Parietal Lobe:

This section of the brain is made up of two hemispheres—right and left. The left side is involved in language, mathematics, and symbolic functions. The right side deals with navigation and spatial relationships.


A bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.

Perinatal Infectious Diseases:

A bacterial infection or virus that is passed down from mother to child before or during delivery.

Peritoneal Dialysis:

A self-administered treatment that removes waste products from the blood when a person’s kidneys are not properly functioning.

Physical Therapist:

Certified healthcare professional who helps patients regain physical strength and range of movement after suffering an injury or illness that has limited them physically.

Physical Therapy:

This type of therapy focuses on the physical rehabilitation of an injured area of the body and can include massage, exercise, stretching, and other healing methods.

Pituitary Gland:

A pea-sized gland located at the brain’s base that helps regulate a person’s growth, blood pressure, thyroid, sex organ function, metabolism, body temperature, and more.

Poor Skin Turgor:

Poor skin resilience, swelling, or distortion of the skin caused by dehydration in the body.

Pulmonary Embolism:

A blockage of one or more arteries in the lungs, usually as a result of blood clots.

Rehabilitation Specialist:

A rehabilitation specialist is a healthcare professional who is dedicated to helping patients recover from injury or illness so that they can function in daily life. Physical and occupational therapists fall into this category.

Respiratory Failure:

Respiratory failure is a condition that hinders the lungs from proper breathing functions, thus causing oxygen levels to become dangerously low.


This bacterial pathogen causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. It is most often transmitted by consuming foods that are contaminated with animal feces.


This is a complex mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences. People who suffer from this disorder usually have auditory hallucinations, paranoia, strange delusions, and more.


An infection in the blood.

Serum Creatinine:

This organic acid helps regulate the body’s muscles. Creatinine is removed from the body through the kidneys, but if the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, the body might have increased levels of creatinine, which causes health issues.

Smoke Inhalation:

The breathing in of harmful vapors and gases from smoke.

Social Security Disability (SSD):

A payroll tax-funded federal insurance program that provides benefits for United States citizens who are permanently disabled (does not cover those with partial or short-term disabilities).

Somatoform Disorders:

A mental disorder that has all the physical symptoms of a medical disorder, but cannot be medically explained.

Speech Therapy:

Therapy that helps re-train the brain to speak and use language skills necessary for daily life after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Subdural Hematoma:

Bleeding on the brain.


Loss of consciousness.


The main bone in the foot; part of the ankle.

Temporal Lobe:

The temporal lobe is the region of the brain in charge of auditory perception and speech and vision processing. It also houses the long-term memory.


The swelling of a vein caused by a blood clot.


The thyroid is a large gland located in the neck that releases hormones, which regulate a person’s metabolism. The malfunctioning of a person’s thyroid can lead to serious health problems.

Toxic Exposure:

Toxic exposure occurs when you make contact with hazardous amounts of a harmful chemical or substance that leads to serious injury or death.

Toxic Inhalation:

Breathing in toxins, such as carbon monoxide, in a fire or explosion affects your body’s ability to absorb oxygen. Without oxygen, cells start to die, leading to brain damage and eventually, death.


Medical professionals who study the nature, effects, and detections of toxins and how to treat toxic exposure.


Toxoplasma is a parasite estimated to be present in more than 60 million Americans. A healthy immune system usually prevents the parasite from causing illness; however, severe toxoplasma cases can lead to brain or eye damage.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

Also known as intracranial injury, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when an external force severely injures the brain. A TBI can vary in severity and brain location and can be fatal.


A common, yet potentially fatal infectious disease characterized by coughing, weight loss, shortness of breath, and inflamed substances in the lungs.

Venous Stasis Insufficiency:

A condition that causes blood to collect in the veins, blocking it from returning to the brain from the legs.

Ventricular Fibrillation:

This disorder causes the heart to beat in rapid, erratic pulses, which hinders the heart from being able to properly pump blood, cutting off blood flow to other vital organs.


A dizziness that makes a person feel like he or she is in motion, even though he or she is stationary.

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