The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • 57 Health Terms Everyone Should Know

  • Confused by doc talk? Brush up on these key health terms so youíll be ready for your next appointment.
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  • If youíve ever been a little confused by the health terms your doctor uses or the instructions on a bottle of medication, youíre not alone. Nearly nine out of every 10 adults in the United States struggles to understand and use health terms and other health information.
    When you do see your health care provider, donít be embarrassed if you donít understand their instructions or one of the health terms used. Itís perfectly OK to speak up. In fact, you should make it clear to your doctor or nurse that you need additional information.
    ďBe prepared to ask the questions that will matter to you,Ē says Dr. Catrina OíLeary, president and CEO of Health Literacy Missouri, a non-profit based in St. Louis that works to bridge the gap between peopleís skills and the demands of the health care world.
    Below is a list of health terms with easy-to-understand definitions that will help you navigate the evolving health care system. (Definitions provided with the help of the University of Michiganís Plain Language Dictionary, CDCís Plain Language Thesaurus, the American Heritage Medical Dictionary and Stedmanís Medical Dictionary.)
  • Abrasion: a cut, scrape, or scratch
  • Abscess: an infection, wound or sore
  • Acute: rapid onset or sudden start, brief
  • Ambulatory: mobile, able to walk or move around, not confined to bed
  • Analgesic: a pain reliever, such as aspirin, Advil or Tylenol
  • Anemia: low iron level, which can make you feel tired
  • Angina: chest pain
  • Antibiotic: a medicine or drug that fights bacteria
  • Anti-inflammatory: a drug that prevents or reduces swelling and pain
  • Antiviral: medicine that fights viruses
  • Atrophy: a wasting-away of tissues in the body
  • Benign: not cancer
  • Biopsy: process for removing a tissue sample for testing
  • BMI: ďbody mass index,Ē which is a measure of body fat based on height and weight
  • Bowel: the intestine
  • Bradycardia: a slow heartbeat
  • Catheter: a type of tube used in various medical procedures
  • Cholesterol: a type of fat produced in your liver and transported by your blood
  • Chronic: long-term, lasting a long time or not having an ending
  • Colon: part of the large intestine
  • Colonoscopy: a test that looks inside your colon, or intestines, often to check for cancerous growths
  • Compression: the act of putting pressure on, or squeezing
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  • Control: to manage or take power over
  • Contusions: bruises
  • CT scan: also referred to as a CAT scan, a type of x-ray test or scan
  • Edema: swelling
  • EHR/EMR: electronic health record or electronic medical record; the high-tech version of your old manila-folder patient file or chart
  • Embolism: a blood clot
  • Endoscope: an optical instrument that looks like a long, thin tube that is inserted into your body for viewing
  • Extremities: your limbs, often in reference to your hands and feet
  • Hemoglobin A1C: a test that looks at your blood sugar levels over the past three months
  • Hypertension: high blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar
  • Hypotension: low blood pressure
  • Inflammation: swelling or soreness
  • Influenza: a virus that causes the flu
  • Intravenous: putting medication or fluids directly into your veins, which is directly into your bloodstream
  • Irrigate: to wash (a wound or an opening)
  • Lesion: a cut, sore, wound or injury
  • Lipids: types of fats in your blood
  • Lumbar: the lower back area
  • Malignant: cancer, or cancerous
  • Noninvasive: doesnít require any penetration, like with a needle
  • NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are used to reduce pain and swelling but which can decrease the bloodís ability to clot
  • Obese: dangerously overweight
  • OTC: over the counter, medications not requiring a prescription
  • Palliative: relieving symptoms like pain without curing
  • Pneumonia: a serious infection of the lungs and respiratory system that can be caused by bacteria, viruses and other causes
  • Polyp: a growth or mass on a mucous membrane (usually not cancerous)
  • Renal: related to the kidneys
  • Subcutaneous: just beneath the skin
  • Susceptible: more likely to catch or be at risk for contracting
  • Sutures: stitches
  • Terminal: deadly or fatal
  • Topical: on the skin or surface of the body
  • Varicella: chicken pox
  • Vertigo: a condition where you feel dizziness or a whirling motion
    Brought to you by: Spry Living

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