Dementia Glossary of Terms

The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the Dementia article.

Abnormal: Outside the expected norm, or uncharacteristic of a particular patient.

Acetylcholine: A neurotransmitter released by nerves that is essential for communication b...

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Aging: The process of becoming older, a process that is genetically determined and environ...

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Alcoholism: Physical dependence on alcohol to the extent that stopping alcohol use would b...

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Alzheimer disease: See: Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease: A progressive degenerative disease of the brain that leads to dementi...

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Ammonia: A colorless gas with a very sharp odor. Made both by humans and by nature, ammoni...

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Anemia: The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity ...

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Anticholinergic: Opposing the actions of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Anticholinerg...

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Anticonvulsant: A medication used to control (prevent) seizures (convulsions) or stop an o...

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Antidepressants: Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.

Antipsychotic: A medication (or another measure) that is believed to be effective in the t...

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Anxiety: A feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as pa...

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Aspiration: Removal of a sample of fluid and cells through a needle. Aspiration also re...

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Assisted living: A type of long-term care facility for elderly or disabled people who are ...

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Atherosclerosis: A process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of medium-...

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Atrophy: A wasting away or diminution. Muscle atrophy is a decrease in muscle mass, often ...

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Autoimmune: Pertaining to autoimmunity, a misdirected immune response that occurs when the...

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Autoimmune process: A process in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys body ...

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Bacterial: Of or pertaining to bacteria, as in a bacterial lung infection.

Benign: Not malignant. A benign tumor is one that does not invade surrounding tissue or sp...

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Binswanger disease: A form of dementia with blood vessel abnormalities in the deep white-m...

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Bladder: A hollow organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. The kidneys filter waste f...

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Blood pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is...

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Brain: The portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It func...

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Brain tumor: A benign or malignant growth in the brain. Primary brain tumors initially for...

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Calcium: A mineral found mainly in the hard part of bones, where it is stored. Calcium is ...

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CBC: A commonly used abbreviation in medicine that stands for complete blood count, a set...

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Cell: The basic structural and functional unit of any living thing. Each cell is a small c...

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Cerebral: Of or pertaining to the cerebrum or the brain.

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Cerebral cortex: A thin mantle of gray matter about the size of a formal dinner napkin cov...

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Cerebrospinal fluid: A watery fluid that is continuously produced and absorbed and that fl...

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Cholesterol: The most common type of steroid in the body. Cholesterol has a reputation for...

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Chronic: In medicine, lasting a long time. A chronic condition is one that lasts 3 months ...

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Circulation: In medicine, the movement of fluid through the body in a regular or circuitou...

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Cocaine: A substance derived from the leaves of the coca plant that is a bitter, addictive...

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Cognition: The process of knowing. Cognition includes both awareness and judgment.

Cognitive: Having to do with thought, judgment, or knowledge.

Coma: A state of deep, unarousable unconsciousness. A coma may occur as a result of head t...

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Congestive heart failure: Inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it, with f...

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Constipation: Infrequent and frequently incomplete bowel movements. Constipation is the op...

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Cortex: The outer layer of any organ.

Cortical: Having to do with the cortex, the outer layer of an organ.

CT scan: Computerized tomography scan. Pictures of structures within the body created by a...

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Cure: 1. To heal, to make well, to restore to good health. 2. A time withou...

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Dehydration: Excessive loss of body water. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that ca...

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Delirium: A sudden state of severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function, sometime...

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Dementia: Significant loss of intellectual abilities, such as memory capacity, that is sev...

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Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way...

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Diabetes: Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mell...

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Diagnosis: 1 The nature of a disease; the identification of an illness. 2 A ...

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Dry mouth: The condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is due to...

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Dysfunction: Difficult function or abnormal function.

EEG: Electroencephalogram.

Electrolyte: A substance that dissociates into ions in solution and acquires the capacity ...

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Emphysema: 1) A lung condition featuring an abnormal accumulation of air in the lung's ma...

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Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain, which may be caused by a bacterium, a virus, or a...

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Enzyme: A protein (or protein-based molecule) that speeds up a chemical reaction in a livi...

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Fats: Plural of the word "fat". See the definition of fat.

FDA: Food and Drug Administration.

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Folic acid: One of the B vitamins that is a key factor in the synthesis (the making) of nu...

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Food and Drug Administration: An agency within the US Public Health Service that provides ...

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Frontal: In anatomy, pertaining to the forehead. As, for example, the frontal bone, fronta...

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Gait: A manner of walking. Observation of gait can provide early diagnostic clues for a nu...

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Gland: A group of cells that secrete a substance for use in the body. For example, the thy...

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Glucose: The simple sugar that is the chief source of energy. Glucose is found in the bloo...

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Head injury: Damage to any of the structures of the head as a result of trauma. While the ...

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Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. ...

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Heart disease: Any disorder that affects the heart. Sometimes the term "heart disease" is ...

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Heart failure: Inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it and, specifically...

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Heroin: Semisynthetic drug derived from morphine. Discovered in 1874, it was introduced co...

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High blood pressure: A repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg. Chro...

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HIV: Acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodefi...

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Hormone: A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activit...

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Huntington disease: An hereditary disorder with mental and physical deterioration leading ...

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Hydrocephalus: Hydrocephalus is an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the v...

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Hygiene: The science of preventive medicine and the preservation of health. Also commonly ...

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Hypothalamus: The area of the brain that secretes substances that influence pituitary and ...

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Hypoxia: A lower-than-normal concentration of oxygen in arterial blood, as opposed to anox...

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Hypoxic: Pertaining to hypoxia, a subnormal concentration of oxygen.

Incontinence: The inability to control excretions, to hold urine in the bladder, or to kee...

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Incontinent: Unable to control excretions, to hold urine in the bladder, or to keep feces ...

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Infarction: The formation of an infarct, an area of tissue death, due to a local lack of o...

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Infection: The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, an...

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Inflammation: A localized reaction that produces redness, warmth, swelling, and pain as a ...

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Injury: Harm or hurt. To harm, hurt, or wound. The word injure may be in physical or emot...

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Kidney: One of a pair of organs located in the right and left side of the abdomen. The kid...

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Limb: An arm or a leg.

Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on t...

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Liver disease: Liver disease refers to any disorder of the liver. The liver is a large org...

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Long-term memory: A system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information f...

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Lumbar: Referring to the five lumbar vertebrae, the disks below them, and the correspondin...

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Lumbar puncture: A procedure in which cerebrospinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal...

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Lungs: The lungs are a pair of breathing organs located with the chest which remove carbon...

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Lyme disease: An inflammatory disease that is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi...

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Malnutrition: A term used to refer to any condition in which the body does not receive eno...

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Memory: 1. The ability to recover information about past events or knowledge. ...

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Meningitis: Inflammation of the meninges, the three membranes that envelop the brain and t...

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Metabolic: Relating to metabolism, the whole range of biochemical processes that occur wit...

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Microscopic: So small it cannot be seen without the aid of microscope. As opposed to macro...

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Motor: Something that produces or refers to motion. For example, a motor neuron is a nerve...

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Mouth: 1. The upper opening of the digestive tract, beginning with the lips and con...

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MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging.

Mucus: A thick fluid that is produced by the lining of some organs of the body.

Multi-infarct dementia: Dementia that is brought on by a series of strokes.

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Multiple sclerosis: A disease that is characterized by loss of myelin (demyelinization). A...

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Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. T...

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Nerve: A bundle of fibers that uses electrical and chemical signals to transmit sensory an...

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Neurotransmitter: A chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an...

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Normal pressure hydrocephalus: A specific form of hydrocephalus in which the central cavi...

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Nursing: 1) Profession concerned with the provision of services essential to the maintena...

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Nursing home: A residential facility for people with chronic illness or disability, partic...

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Organic: 1. A chemical compound that contains carbon.
2. Related to a...

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Organic brain syndrome: Psychiatric or neurological symptoms that arise from damage to or ...

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Oxygen: The odorless gas that is present in the air and necessary to maintain life. Oxygen...

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Oxygenation: The addition of oxygen to any system, including the human body. Oxygenation m...

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Pancreas: A spongy, tube-shaped organ that is about 6 inches long and is located in the ba...

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Parkinson disease: A slowly progressive neurologic disease characterized by a fixed inexpr...

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Parkinson's disease: A slowly progressive neurologic disease that is characterized by a fi...

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Physical therapy: A branch of rehabilitative health that uses specially designed exercises...

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Pick disease: A form of dementia characterized by a slowly progressive deterioration of s...

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Pituitary: 1. As an adjective, pertaining to the pituitary gland or its hormonal se...

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Pituitary gland: The main endocrine gland. It is a small structure in the head. It is ca...

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Pneumonia: Inflammation of one or both lungs, with dense areas of lung inflammation. Pneum...

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Prescription: A physician's order for the preparation and administration of a drug or dev...

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Prognosis: The forecast of the probable outcome or course of a disease; the patient's chan...

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Prostate: A gland within the male reproductive system that is located just below the blad...

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Prostate enlargement: Most prostatic enlargement is due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (B...

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Protein: One of the three nutrients used as energy sources (calories) by the body. Protein...

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Psychosis: In the general sense, a mental illness that markedly interferes with a person'...

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Quality of life: The patient's ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is...

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Regimen: A plan or a regulated course, such as a diet, exercise, or treatment, that is des...

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Rehydration: The process of restoring lost water (dehydration) to the body tissues and flu...

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Reuptake: The reabsorption of a secreted substance by the cell that originally produced an...

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Rule out: Term used in medicine, meaning to eliminate or exclude something from considera...

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Safe sex: Sexual practices that do not involve the exchange of bodily fluids, including bl...

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Saliva: a watery secretion in the mouth produced by the salivary glands that aids in the d...

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Scan: As a noun, the data or image obtained from the examination of organs or regions of...

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Sclerosis: Localized hardening of skin. Sclerosis is generally caused by underlying diseas...

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Seat belt: A belt used to hold an individual in their seat.

Senile: 1. Pertaining to old age. 2. Pertaining to the physical decline ass...

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Senility: 1. Originally, old age. 2. The physical decline associated with o...

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Serotonin: A neurotransmitter that is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Sero...

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Short-term memory: A system for temporarily storing and managing information required to ...

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Shunt: 1) To move a body fluid, such as cerebrospinal fluid, from one place to another. 2...

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Skull: The skull is a collection of bones which encase the brain and give form to the hea...

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Sleep: The body's rest cycle.

Sleeplessness: Insomnia. See also Fatal familial insomnia.

Sodium: The major positive ion (cation) in the fluid surrounding cells in the body. The ch...

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Soothing: Bringing comfort, solace, reassurance, peace, composure, quietude.

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SPECT: An acronym that stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, a nuclear me...

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Spinal cord: The major column of nerve tissue that is connected to the brain and lies with...

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Spinal tap: Also known as a lumbar puncture or "LP", a spinal tap is a procedure whereby ...

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Spine: 1) The column of bone known as the vertebral column, which surrounds and protects ...

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Stress: In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional fact...

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Stroke: The sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, caused by blockage of blood...

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Substance: 1. Material with particular features.
2. The material that...

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Substance abuse: The excessive use of a substance, especially alcohol or a drug. (There is...

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Suicidal: Pertaining to suicide. the taking of ones own life. As in a suicidal gesture, su...

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Surgery: The branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or inj...

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Syndrome: A combination of symptoms and signs that together represent a disease process.

Syphilis: A sexually transmitted disease caused by Treponema pallidum, a microscopic orga...

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Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.

Thyroid: 1. The thyroid gland. Also, pertaining to the thyroid gland. 2. A p...

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Thyroid gland: A gland that makes and stores hormones that help regulate the heart rate, b...

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Traumatic brain injury: Brain damage from trauma. The three leading causes of death from t...

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Tremor: An abnormal, repetitive shaking movement of the body. Tremors have many causes and...

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Trigger: Something that either sets off a disease in people who are genetically predispose...

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Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are a classic sign of inflammation, and can be ...

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Urine: Liquid waste produced by the kidneys. Urine is a clear, transparent fluid that norm...

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Vascular: Relating to blood vessels. For example, the vascular system in the body includes...

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Vascular dementia: A common form of dementia in older persons that is due to cerebrovascul...

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Ventricles: 1, The right ventricle and the left ventricle, the lower two chambers o...

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Vertebrae: The preferred plural of vertebra. (The alternate plural is vertebras.) See also...

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Vitamin B12: A vitamin important for the normal formation of red blood cells and the healt...

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Vitamins: The word "vitamin" was coined in 1911 by the Warsaw-born biochemist Casimir Funk...

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Wasting: 1. Gradual loss (for example, of weight), deterioration, emaciation. As in...

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