Medical Dictionary
Author : Staff    -   Subject : Health


    Abscessed tooth A painful, serious infection that develops in the tissue around a tooth. When the pulp of the tooth dies, mouth bacteria start to overgrow and spread from the root of the tooth to the tissue under the tooth, creating a pus-filled pocket called an abscess.
    Adult respiratory distress syndrome A lung disorder caused by direct injury to the lungs or acute illness. Major symptoms may include breathing difficulties (dyspnea), rapid breathing (tachypnea), excessively deep and rapid breathing (hyperventilation), and insufficient levels of oxygen in the circulating blood (hypoxemia).

    Age-related macular degeneration An eye disease that destroys central vision by damaging the macula near the center of the retina at the back of the eyeball. Damage causes central vision loss and affects the ability to see shapes, color, and detail sharply and clearly.

    AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) An infectious disorder that suppresses the normal function of the immune system. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the body's ability to fight infections.

    Allergic rhinitis Also called "hay fever," this respiratory allergy affects the nose and may occur seasonally or year-round.

    Alzheimer's disease A condition that damages the areas of the brain involved in memory, intelligence, judgment, language, and behavior. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia (mental decline) in older adults.

    Anemia A condition caused by low levels of iron in the body. When the body doesn't have enough iron, it can't produce normal amounts of hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to body tissues.

    Angina Chest pain or discomfort caused by poor blood and oxygen flow to the heart.

    Angiography A type of X-ray test that takes pictures (angiogram) of the blood flow within an artery; also called arteriography.

    Angioplasty A procedure in which a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm and carefully guided into the coronary artery that is narrowed. Once the tube reaches the narrowed artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube is inflated. The balloon may remain inflated from 20 seconds to 3 minutes. The pressure from the inflated balloon presses the fat and calcium (plaque) against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow; also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or PTCA.

    Arthroscopy A surgical procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the body at joint surfaces and surrounding soft tissue. Arthroscopy can diagnose or repair a joint problem, monitor disease progression, and measure the effectiveness of treatment. It is frequently used on the knee, shoulder, and ankle, and in some cases the hip, elbow, and wrist.


    Bacterial meningitis A central nervous system disease caused by certain types of bacteria that inflame the membranes around the brain or spinal cord. Major symptoms can appear suddenly or develop gradually, and may include fever, headache, and a stiff neck, sometimes with aching muscles. Nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms may occur as well.

    Barium enema Also called a lower gastrointestinal (GI) exam, a barium enema is an X ray examination of the large intestine (colon and rectum). To make the intestine visible on an X ray, the colon is filled with barium, which is poured through a tube inserted into the anus. The barium blocks X rays, causing the colon to show up clearly on the X ray.

    Bell's palsy This condition causes muscles on one side of the face to become weak or paralyzed. Bell's palsy usually comes on suddenly, often overnight, and occurs when a nerve on one side of the face is damaged, most often due to inflammation.

    Benign positional vertigo (BPV) An inner ear problem, BPV affects the way the ear senses the movement of the head, resulting in vertigo (a spinning or whirling sensation). The vertigo often lasts less than a minute, and frequently only a few seconds, and may be severe enough to cause nausea or vomiting.

    Biopsy The removal of a small sample of tissue for use in diagnosis.

    Bipolar manic depression This mental illness is marked by intense mood swings, usually with remissions and recurrences. Depressive symptoms may be most common and can last at least a full day and perhaps several weeks or longer. Manic symptoms may involve hyperactivity and feelings of invincibility, happiness, and restlessness.

    Blepharitis This common eye problem often occurs with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light or sound.

    Blood culture A test which detects and identifies bacteria or fungus in the bloodstream. An infection in the bloodstream (bacteremia or septicemia) is always serious because the blood can spread the bacteria to any part of the body.

    Bone mineral density A test that measures the amount of calcium in a special region of the bones. From this information an estimate of the strength of the bones can be made.

    Bone scan A test that looks for areas of rapid bone growth or repair, or the presence of a tumor, a fracture, an infection, or a lack of blood flow. Bone scans are used to evaluate damage to the bones, to detect cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the bones, and to monitor diseases that can affect bones. A bone scan can often detect a problem months earlier than a regular X-ray test.

    Bronchitis Inflammation of the bronchial tubes (lower respiratory tract), which lead into the lungs.

    Bursitis An inflammation of a bursa sac, which sit near joints and bones. A person with bursitis may have pain, tenderness, and stiffness near the inflamed bursa. Weakness may then develop in the nearby muscles. Bursitis occurs most often in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle.


    Carcinoma A malignant growth.

    Candida albicans This usually harmless yeast infection can be found in the mouth, intestinal tract, and vagina and is caused by a fungus called Candida. The infection usually affects the skin and/or the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestines, or the vagina.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome Tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers or hand. These symptoms occur when there is pressure on a nerve (median nerve) within the wrist (carpal tunnel).

    CAT scan A computed tomography (CT) scan is a special type of X ray that can produce detailed pictures of structures inside of the body; also called CT scan, Computed Tomography, or Computerized Axial Tomography.

    Cataracts A painless, cloudy area in the lens of the eye.

    Cerebral palsy (CP) The term given to certain disorders of body movement and posture that develop as a result of a disruption in normal brain development.

    Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) This condition causes extreme fatigue or tiredness severe enough to interfere with the ability to participate in normal work, recreation, and social activities that does not improve with rest. People with CFS may also have sleep problems, a decreased ability to think clearly and concentrate, memory problems, sore throat, fever, headaches, muscle pain, and swollen glands.

    Cirrhosis This condition develops when normal liver cells are replaced with scar tissue as a result of damage to the liver. As scar tissue builds up, there is less healthy tissue available to perform normal liver functions, and the underlying structure of the liver changes.

    Cluster headaches These recurrent, severe headaches cause deep, stabbing pain, usually around the temple or eye. A cluster headache usually lasts about 30 to 60 minutes, and often begins at night, right after going to sleep. A cluster period may last for days or months. Although extremely painful, they are not symptoms of a serious problem.

    Congenital Usually refers to a condition that exists at birth.

    Crohn's disease This inflammatory bowel disease is characterized by severe, chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall or any portion of the gastrointestinal tract. The lower portion of the small intestine (ileum) and the rectum are most commonly affected. Symptoms may include watery diarrhea and abdominal pain.

    Cystic fibrosis A disease that causes the mucous lining of the surfaces of internal organs to become thick, dry, and sticky. It affects the function of the lungs and respiratory system, pancreas and digestive system, sweat glands, and the reproductive system.

    Cystoscopy This test allows a doctor to look at the interior lining of the bladder and the tube that conducts urine from the bladder (urethra) using a cystoscope, a thin, lighted viewing instrument that is inserted into the urethra and advanced into the bladder.


    Dermatitis An acute or chronic skin inflammation triggered by substances that come in contact with the skin. Symptoms can include abnormal redness of the skin (erythema) and/or itching (pruritis). Causes of dermatitis include an allergic reaction or response to a substance or a direct toxic effect of a substance (e.g., chemical irritants, medications, certain plants); also called contact dermatitis.

    Diabetes, type 1 A lifelong disease that develops when the gland located behind the stomach (pancreas) does not make enough insulin or makes no insulin. People who develop type 1 diabetes have inherited a tendency for the disease (are genetically susceptible). These people can be identified by certain unique antibodies (islet cell antibodies) in their blood.

    Diabetes, type 2 (diabetes mellitus) A lifelong disease that develops when the gland located behind the stomach (pancreas) cannot make enough insulin, or when a person's body does not use insulin properly. The result is elevated blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body and increase the risk of eye, heart, and kidney disease.

    Digital rectal exam During this diagnostic exam, a health professional inserts a lubricated, gloved finger of one hand into the rectum and may use the other hand to press on the lower abdomen or pelvic area. The test is commonly done to check the prostate gland in men and the uterus and ovaries in women.


    Echocardiography An ultrasound test, it uses high-pitched sound waves to produce an image of the heart. It can identify areas of poor blood flow, heart muscle that is not contracting normally, previous injury to the heart muscle caused by impaired blood flow, or evidence of congestive heart failure, especially in people with chest pain or a possible heart attack.

    Electrocardiography (EKG) This test records the electrical activity of the heart. Exercise electrocardiography (sometimes called a stress test) evaluates how the heart responds to the demands of physical activity. Small metal discs called electrodes are attached to the skin on the chest, arms, and legs to measure electrical signals produced by the heart. The signals are carefully reviewed by a doctor for abnormalities.

    Electroencephalography (EEG) A test that records the electrical activity in the brain. Sensors (electrodes) are attached to the head and hooked up by wires to a computer. The computer records the brain's electrical activity on paper as wavy lines. Certain brain abnormalities can be detected by observing changes in the normal pattern of the brain's electrical activity.

    Encephalitis An inflammation of the brain tissue which can be caused by a variety of agents, although viruses are the most common cause.

    Endometriosis A condition in which cells that look and act like cells that line the uterus (endometrial cells) are found in other locations in the body. These cells can attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or outer surface of the uterus, the bowels, or other abdominal organs and, rarely, can attach outside the abdomen. Endometriosis can cause pain or infertility if left untreated.

    Endoscopy This test allows a doctor to look at the interior lining of the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine through a thin, flexible viewing instrument called an endoscope. The tip of the endoscope is inserted through the mouth and then gently advanced down the throat into the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine (duodenum).

    Erectile dysfunction A man's inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient to have satisfactory sex. It does not mean lack of sexual interest or desire, though the man may or may not be able to have orgasms or to ejaculate. It can occur at any age. Occasional episodes are considered normal and often do not mean there is a serious problem; also called impotence.


    False-negative test result A result that does not detect what is being tested for when in fact it is present. A false-negative test result may thus suggest that a person does not have a disease or condition being tested for when, actually, the person does have that disease or condition.

    False-positive test result A result that appears to detect what is being tested for when in fact it is not present. A false-positive test result may thus suggest that a person has the disease or condition being tested for when, actually, the person does not have that disease or condition.

    Fecal occult test This simple colon cancer screening checks for hidden (occult) blood in the stool. Home test kits are available at pharmacies without a prescription, or a physician may order a testing kit for use by a patient at home.


    Gallstones Hard stones of cholesterol and other substances that form in the gallbladder. Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand and as large as 2 1/2 inches (6.35 cm) in diameter. Most people who have gallstones do not have any symptoms.

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) This condition causes abnormal backflow (reflux) of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach. This backflow occurs when the valve between the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) does not close tightly enough. The main symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn.

    Gout A form of arthritis caused by the deposit of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body. When the body produces too much uric acid or doesn't get rid of it in the urine, the excess builds up and may form crystals in the joints. In most people, the joints react to the crystals by becoming inflamed, swollen, and tender.

    Graves' disease This rare disease affects the thyroid gland and often the skin and eyes and is characterized by abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter) and increased secretion of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, an abnormal intolerance of heat, muscle weakness, and protrusion or bulging of the eyeballs from their sockets.


    Heart failure This occurs when the heart muscle doesn't pump as much blood as the body needs.

    Hepatitis An inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viruses such as hepatitis A, B, or C. Other causes include certain medications, long-term alcohol use, and exposure to specific industrial chemicals.

    High cholesterol A condition marked by too much of a certain type of fat (lipid) in the blood, which increases the risk for hardening of the arteries and atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, or stroke.

    Hodgkin's disease A form of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, especially the lymph nodes. Tumors occur in the lymph nodes and/or the area around the nodes. Fever, night sweats, and weight loss may occur along with swollen lymph nodes.

    Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) A virus that attacks and gradually weakens the immune system, making it possible for unusual diseases and cancers to take hold. HIV is spread from one person to another through contact with blood, semen, and vaginal fluids.

    Hysterectomy A surgical procedure in part or all of a woman's uterus is removed, either through the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy) or through an incision made in the lower abdomen (abdominal hysterectomy). Sometimes, a special instrument called a laparoscope is used when a vaginal hysterectomy is done. The procedure is then called a laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH).


    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) A disorder of the large and small intestines that causes abdominal pain that is usually cramping. The pain may occur alone or with bowel movements. Bloating, passing mucus in the stools, or a sense that the bowels have not completely emptied after passing a stool are also common. Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the frequency of bowel movements, may also occur.

    Incontinence Urinary incontinence is a condition, not a disease, but a symptom of a problem with the urinary tract, is characterized by the involuntary release of urine. Urinary incontinence is very common, especially among older adults.


    Jaundice In newborns, this condition refers to higher-than-normal amounts of bilirubin in the blood, causing the skin, whites of the eyes, and other organs of the body to turn yellow (jaundice); also called hyperbilirubinemia.

    Joint fluid analysis For this test a sample of joint fluid is removed from the joint with a long, thin needle. This procedure is done most often on the knee, but can also be done on other major joints in the body, including the shoulder, hip, elbow, wrist, or ankle. Joint fluid analysis is then done in a lab to look for signs of infection, bleeding, or other causes of inflammation.


    Lactose intolerance A disorder causing gas, abdominal pain, and bloating after foods or beverages containing lactose are consumed. Symptoms occur when there is not enough lactase in the small intestine to digest the amount of lactose consumed. The undigested lactose passes into the large intestine (colon) and causes symptoms.

    Laparoscopy A surgical procedure to examine the abdominal organs (intestines, liver, and spleen) and the pelvic organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries). It is used to diagnose problems such as cysts, fibrous bands of scar tissue (adhesions), fibroids, and infection. Surgery can also be done during laparoscopy to remove adhesions, repair an inguinal hernia, and perform a tubal ligation to sterilize a woman who no longer wants to get pregnant. During laparoscopy, a small cut is made in the abdomen and a thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) is inserted into the abdomen. Tissue samples (biopsy) can be collected through the scope.

    Lead poisoning A condition occurring when someone absorbs too much lead, either by breathing or eating dust, food, or some other substance with lead in it. Lead absorbed into the body affects almost every organ system, but it is most harmful to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), the kidneys, and blood.

    Leukemia A condition characterized by an excessive amount of white blood cells in the bone marrow, spleen, liver, and blood. As the disease progresses, the leukemic cells invade other areas of the body including the intestinal tract, kidneys, lungs, gonads, and lymph nodes.

    Lupus A disease of the immune system that can affect the entire body, lupus most often affects the skin and joints, but can also affect the kidneys, the heart, the lungs, the nervous system, or almost any organ. Common symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain and swelling (arthritis), skin rashes, and sensitivity to sunlight that causes a rash to develop after exposure to ultraviolet light.


    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) A test that provides pictures of organs and structures inside the body. An MRI produces these images by using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. In many cases, MRI provides information that cannot be obtained from X-ray tests; it can detect tumors, infection, and other types of tissue disease or damage and can help diagnose conditions that affect blood flow.

    Mastitis A breast infection that can occur in a woman who is breastfeeding, usually during the first two months after delivery. Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches. The infected breast can become inflamed, red, and painful.

    Melanoma A common skin cancer that develops in the melanin cells of the upper layer of the skin (epidermis) or from similar cells that can be found in moles (nevi). This type of skin cancer may send down roots into deeper layers of the skin. Some of these microscopic roots can spread (metastasize), causing new tumor growths in vital organs of the body.

    Meniere's disease An inner-ear problem that causes severe vertigo (a spinning or whirling sensation). During and after an attack, the affected person may also have hearing loss. These vertigo attacks usually occur suddenly and without warning. Treatment is mostly limited to keeping the person comfortable until the attack of vertigo goes away.

    Meningitis An infection of the fluid (cerebral spinal fluid) and/or tissues (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis causes swelling of brain tissue. When brain tissues swell less blood and oxygen reaches the brain cells. Swelling of brain tissues and reduced amount of blood and oxygen reaching the brain cells produce the symptoms of meningitis (for example, severe headache and stiff neck).

    Menopause A period of time marking the end of a woman's menstrual periods and her ability to become pregnant. Menopause is a process that usually begins two to five years before a woman's last menstrual period and is completed when one full year has passed without a menstrual period.

    Metastasize To spread to another part of the body.

    Migraine headaches Severe, usually one-sided, throbbing headaches that often occur with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light or sound.

    Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) A common condition in which the valve between the left upper chamber (left atrium) and left lower chamber (left ventricle) of the heart do not function properly. In most people, MVP does not cause any symptoms, does not require treatment, and usually does not cause any health problems.

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) A disease of the brain and spinal cord that can cause problems with muscle control and strength, vision, balance, and sensation (such as numbness or tingling in your feet or hands). The symptoms of MS are caused by inflammation in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and destruction of the protein coating (myelin) that surrounds and protects nerve fibers.

    Myelitis A disorder of the spine, myelitis is marked by inflammation of the spinal cord. Injury to the spine, benign tissue growths, or blood vessel abnormalities may cause this disorder. Major symptoms may initially include pain, followed by gradual paralysis and/or other central nervous system disturbances.


    Neurasthenia Symptoms of this mental disorder--which is triggered by stress or anxiety--may include weakness or fatigue, which may be accompanied by chest pain; a rapid, intense heartbeat that may be irregular; palpitations (tachycardia); cold, clammy hands and feet; abnormally rapid breathing (hyperventilation); dizziness or faintness; periodic sighing; and/or sweating for no apparent reason.


    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) This condition causes people to repeat certain meaningless behaviors (compulsions) in order to control disturbing, repetitive thoughts (obsessions). People with OCD know that their thoughts are senseless and that their behaviors are time-consuming and unnecessary. However, they cannot control what they think or stop performing ritualistic behaviors.

    Ovarian cyst This fluid-filled sac, similar to a blister, forms in an ovary. Cysts are the most common ovarian growths in women during their childbearing years. Most will go away without treatment within one to three menstrual cycles. If they do not go away, tests can be done to check that it's not an ovarian growth that requires treatment.


    Paget's disease This bone disease, most common in those over age 40, causes abnormal bone growth and sometimes bone pain. Paget's disease usually affects the bones in the pelvis, spine, skull, chest, and legs.

    Panic disorder Those who have repeated "panic attacks"--distinct periods of intense fear and anxiety in which there is no clear cause or danger--are said to have a panic disorder. Symptoms come on suddenly and without warning, occurring in otherwise normal, healthy people and usually lasting for several minutes. Professional treatment can be effective in managing anxiety. Panic disorder can be symptomatic of other problems, so professional help is advised.

    Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) A bacterial infection of the upper genital organs in women, PID can affect the uterus, ovaries, and the fallopian tubes; is often caused by sexually transmitted diseases; and frequently has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can result in pelvic pain, tubal (ectopic) pregnancy, or infertility.

    Peptic ulcers Sores in the stomach or duodenum (upper small intestine) that develop when the gastric acid irritates the lining of the digestive tract.

    Plantar warts Noncancerous skin growths on the soles of the feet. (Plantar is a medical term that means the sole of the foot.) Caused by the human papillomavirus, they invade only the outermost layer of skin, making skin cells reproduce faster than normal.

    Polymyositis A connective tissue disorder characterized by inflammatory and degenerative changes in the muscles, leading to weakness and atrophy of muscles. Parts of the body most commonly affected are the hips, shoulders, arms, pharynx, and neck.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) This condition may develop after a person experiences or witnesses an extremely dangerous or life-threatening event that causes him or her to feel intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

    Prostate cancer A cancer resulting from the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate, forming a malignant tumor. In advanced cases, the cancer may metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) to lymph nodes, bones, and other organs. Although prostate cancer is very common, most men never know they have it.

    Psoriasis Typically, this chronic skin condition is mild, with small areas of rash. In moderate or severe cases, the skin is inflamed and has raised red areas with loose, silvery, scaling skin.


    Raynaud's phenomenon A condition that typically develops when fingers and toes are exposed to the cold, causing the small blood vessels that supply blood to the skin to become smaller and in turn limiting the flow of blood to the hands (and, more rarely, the feet, nose, or ears). During an attack, the fingers often turn pale (sometimes blue) and feel cold and numb. As blood flow returns, the fingers may become red and swollen, tingle, throb, or become painful.

    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) A neurological movement disorder characterized by abnormal, uncomfortable sensations in the legs typically occurring during sleep or while at rest. The sensations are often likened to cramping, aching, burning, itching, prickling deep within the affected areas, or a sensation of something crawling on the skin. Those with RLS feel an irresistible urge to move in response to, or in an effort to alleviate, these sensations.

    Rheumatoid arthritis A disease marked by inflamed joint tissue causing swelling and pain. Over time, the joint tissue--including cartilage, ligaments, and tendons--and bone may be destroyed. The hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, and neck can be affected.

    Ruptured disc When damaged from an injury, normal wear and tear, or disease, the small discs that act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible may bulge or break open. Often, a ruptured disc does not cause any pain; also called a herniated disc.

    Rosacea A skin disorder of the nose, cheeks, chin, and/or forehead and typically appearing in adulthood. The facial skin becomes oily, reddened, and bumpy and small red blood vessels are visible. In extreme cases, the nose may appear very red and bulbous.


    Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) A type of depression--sometimes called "the winter blues"--that occurs at the same time each year for at least two years. A combination of light therapy and counseling is usually prescribed.

    Sciatica A condition caused by a herniated disc pressing on the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve (a large nerve that extends from the lower back down the back of the leg), causing shooting pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the leg.

    Sigmoidoscopy A valuable screening test for colon cancer for those over age 45 to 50, a sigmoidoscopy test takes 10 to 20 minutes, during which there may be a feeling of pressure, like the urge to have a bowel movement and cramping similar to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. The doctor may also collect a tissue sample (biopsy) and/or a stool sample for testing.

    Sinusitis A condition characterized by inflammation or infection of the mucous membrane that lines the sinus cavities in the head. Sinusitis causes the sinuses to become blocked, leading to pressure and pain in the face and head.

    Sleep apnea A sleep disorder that causes sufferers to stop breathing for 10 to 15 seconds or longer. Apnea episodes can happen as often as 50 times an hour and are associated with an increased risk for the development of heart disease and stroke.

    Squamous cell carcinoma One of the most common types of skin cancer, it typically develops on the tissue of the skin and the mucous lining of body cavities, but can occur anywhere on the body. Squamous cell carcinoma commonly affects light-skinned people and those with extensive and/or long-term exposure to sunlight. With appropriate treatment, squamous cell carcinoma is usually curable.

    Syphilis This chronic infectious disease is caused by the microorganism treponema pallidum and is transmitted by direct contact with an infected lesion, usually through sexual intercourse. Symptoms can remain dormant for years, but eventually any tissue or vascular organ in the body may be affected.


    Tendonitis Inflammation of the tendons near joints and bones in the body, most often in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle. A person with tendonitis may have pain, tenderness, and stiffness near the inflamed tendon; weakness may then develop in the nearby muscles.

    Tinnitus A condition marked by persistent ringing, roaring, hissing, buzzing, or tinkling in the ears and usually caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear as a result of prolonged exposure to loud noise. Tinnitus can, however, be associated with all types of hearing loss and may be a symptom of almost any ear disorder.

    Toxicology screening A test which examines blood, urine, or, rarely, stomach contents for drugs that may have entered the body in amounts high enough to be poisonous.

    Tourette syndrome (TS) Characterized by vocal tics (odd sounds and words) and motor tics (odd body movements) that are beyond the sufferer's control, Tourette syndrome can be a devastating neurological disorder. Tics occur suddenly, lasting from several seconds to minutes, and have no meaning to the person with the syndrome. Tics must be present for at least one year before a diagnosis of Tourette syndrome can be confirmed.

    Transient ischemic attacks A condition occurring when blood flow is temporarily reduced or stopped to an area of the brain, often due to a blood clot blocking flow in an artery supplying the brain. Within minutes, brain cells are affected, causing symptoms in the parts of the body controlled by those cells; also called mini-strokes.


    Ultrasound A test using reflected sound waves to produce a picture of organs and other structures inside the body. A small handheld instrument called a transducer is passed back and forth over the area being examined. A computer then analyzes the sound waves and converts them into a picture displayed on a screen.

    Upper GI series A test examining the upper and middle portions of the gastrointestinal tract. Before being tested, a patient swallows a "milkshake" of barium (a substance that blocks X rays) and water, followed by gas-producing crystals. The doctor then tracks the progress of the barium through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine using fluoroscopy, a type of X ray.

    Urine culture A test to detect and identify bacteria that may be causing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

    Uterine fibroids Noncancerous tumors in the uterus that grow on the inside of the uterus, within its muscle wall, or on its outer surface. Fibroids can also change the shape of the uterus.


    Vaginal yeast infection Caused by an overgrowth of yeast organisms in the vagina, a yeast infection can be due to medication, a medical condition, or other factors.

    Vaginitis A condition characterized by inflammation of the vagina and the vulva, vaginitis is often caused by an infection, but may also be a reaction to soap, bath oil, spermicidal jelly, or douches. Symptoms include vaginal itching, pain, or discharge.

    Varicose veins Twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin, most commonly appearing on the legs and ankles and developing when small surface veins become blocked, damaged, or defective. Varicose veins can cause a dull ache or a feeling of heaviness in the legs, skin color changes, inflammation, open sores, or bleeding after a minor trauma.

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