The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the echinacea (echinacea sp.) - oral article.
Allergic reaction: The hypersensitive response of the immune system of an allergic individual to a substance.
Antifungal: A medication that limits or prevents the growth of yeasts and other fungal organisms.
Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis. (see osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, pseudogout).
Asthma: A common lung disorder in which inflammation causes the bronchi to swell and narrow the airways, creating breathing difficulties that may range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. The diagnosis of asthma is based on evidence of wheezing and is confirmed with breathing tests. Many allergens and irritants can precipitate attacks of asthma. Avoidance of precipitating factors can be helpful. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, activity reduction, allergy shots, and medications to prevent or reverse the bronchospasm.
Autoimmune: Pertaining to autoimmunity, a misdirected immune response that occurs when the immune system goes awry and attacks the body itself.
Breathing: The process of respiration, during which air is inhaled into the lungs through the mouth or nose due to muscle contraction and then exhaled due to muscle relaxation.
Caffeine: A stimulant compound found naturally in coffee, tea, cocoa (chocolate), and kola nuts (cola) and added to soft drinks, foods, and medicines. Caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, and hypertension. Caffeine is a diuretic and increases urination. It can decrease a person's ability to lose weight because it stimulates insulin secretion, which reduces blood sugar, which increases hunger. Caffeine can help to relieve headaches, so a number of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers include it as an ingredient, usually with aspirin or another analgesic.
Cancer: An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread).
Common cold: A contagious viral upper respiratory tract infection. The common cold can be caused by many different types of viruses, and the body can never build up resistance to all of them. For this reason, colds are a frequent and recurring problem. Going out into cold weather has no effect on causing a cold. Antibiotics do not cure or shorten the duration of the illness.
Diabetes: Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name "diabetes" because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).
Dizziness: Painless head discomfort with many possible causes including disturbances of vision, the brain, balance (vestibular) system of the inner ear, and gastrointestinal system. Dizziness is a medically indistinct term which laypersons use to describe a variety of conditions ranging from lightheadedness, unsteadiness to vertigo.
Drain: A device for removing fluid from a cavity or wound. A drain is typically a tube or wick. As a verb, to allow fluid to be released from a confined area.
Echinacea: An herb that has been claimed to boost the body's immune system and help fight off infections. Echinacea has been widely used to treat the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), including colds and the flu. The herb is derived from the purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, a drought-tolerant perennial plant native to North America with large purple flowers surrounding a large cone.
FDA: Food and Drug Administration.
Fever: Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.), in practice a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C.).
Flu: Short for influenza. The flu is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract which are divided into three types, designated A, B, and C. Most people who get the flu recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia. Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.
Flush: (1) A redness of the skin, typically over the cheeks or neck. A flush is usually temporary and brought on by excitement, exercise, fever, or embarrassment. Flushing is an involuntary (uncontrollable) response of the nervous system leading to widening of the capillaries of the involved skin. Also referred to as a blush (or, as a verb, to blush). Flushing may also be caused by medications or other substances that cause widening of the capillaries, such as niacin. (2) Flush also means to wash out a wound or body area.
Fungal: Pertaining to a fungus. For example, a fungal skin infection.
Generic: 1. The chemical name of a drug. 2. A term referring to the chemical makeup of a drug rather than to the advertised brand name under which the drug may be sold. 3.A term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without advertising.
Hay fever: A seasonal allergy to airborne particles characterized by itchy eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy throat, and excess mucus.
Herbal: 1. An adjective, referring to herbs, as in an herbal tea.
HIV: Acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV has also been called the human lymphotropic virus type III, the lymphadenopathy-associated virus and the lymphadenopathy virus. No matter what name is applied, it is a retrovirus. (A retrovirus has an RNA genome and a reverse transcriptase enzyme. Using the reverse transcriptase, the virus uses its RNA as a template for making complementary DNA which can integrate into the DNA of the host organism).
Immune: Protected against infection, usually by the presence of antibodies.
Immune system: A complex system that is responsible for distinguishing a person from everything foreign to him or her and for protecting his or her body against infections and foreign substances.
Infection: The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are not normally present within the body. An infection may cause no symptoms and be subclinical, or it may cause symptoms and be clinically apparent. An infection may remain localized, or it may spread through the blood or lymphatic vessels to become systemic (bodywide). Microorganisms that live naturally in the body are not considered infections. For example, bacteria that normally live within the mouth and intestine are not infections.
Itching: An uncomfortable sensation in the skin that feels as if something is crawling on the skin and makes the person want to scratch the affected area. Itching is medically known as pruritis; something that is itchy is pruritic.
Laboratory: A place for doing tests and research procedures, and for preparing chemicals and some medications. Also known as lab.
Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. The liver has a multitude of important and complex functions, including to manufacture proteins, including albumin (to help maintain the volume of blood) and blood clotting factors; to synthesize, store, and process fats, including fatty acids (used for energy) and cholesterol; to metabolize and store carbohydrates (used as the source for the sugar in blood); to form and secrete bile that contains bile acids to aid in the intestinal absorption of fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; to eliminate, by metabolizing or secreting, the potentially harmful biochemical products produced by the body, such as bilirubin, from the breakdown of old red blood cells and ammonia from the breakdown of proteins; and to detoxify, by metabolizing and/or secreting, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins.
Liver disease: Liver disease refers to any disorder of the liver. The liver is a large organ in the upper right abdomen that aids in digestion and removes waste products from the blood.
Lupus: A chronic inflammatory disease that is caused by autoimmunity. Patients with lupus have in their blood unusual antibodies that are targeted against their own body tissues. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. The first symptom is a red (or dark), scaly rash on the nose and cheeks, often called a butterfly rash because of its distinctive shape. As inflammation continues, scar tissue may form, including keloid scarring in patients prone to keloid formation. The cause of lupus is unknown, although heredity, viruses, ultraviolet light, and drugs may all play a role. Lupus is more common in women than in men, and although it occurs in all ethnic groups, it is most common in people of African descent. Diagnosis is made through observation of symptoms, and through testing of the blood for signs of autoimmune activity. Early treatment is essential to prevent progression of the disease. A rheumatologist can provide treatment for lupus, and this treatment has two objectives: treating the difficult symptoms of the disease and treating the underlying autoimmune activity. It may include use of steroids and other anti-inflammatory agents, antidepressants and/or mood stabilizers, intravenous immunoglobulin, and, in cases in which lupus involves the internal organs, chemotherapy. See also lupus, discoid; lupus erythematosis, systemic.
Mouth: 1. The upper opening of the digestive tract, beginning with the lips and containing the teeth, gums, and tongue. Foodstuffs are broken down mechanically in the mouth by chewing and saliva is added as a lubricant. Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that digests starch. 2. Any opening or aperture in the body. The mouth in both senses of the word is also called the os, the Latin word for an opening, or mouth. The o in os is pronounced as in hope. The genitive form of os is oris from which comes the word oral.
Multiple sclerosis: A disease that is characterized by loss of myelin (demyelinization). Abbreviated MS. Myelin, the coating of nerve fibers, is composed of lipids (fats) and protein. It serves as insulation and permits efficient nerve fiber conduction. In MS, demyelinization usually affects white matter in the brain, but sometimes it extends into the gray matter. When myelin is damaged, nerve fiber conduction is faulty or absent, and nerve cell death may occur. Impaired bodily functions or altered sensations associated with those demyelinated nerve fibers give rise to the symptoms of MS, which range from numbness to paralysis and blindness. People with MS experience attacks of symptoms that may last days, months, or longer. For many patients, the disease is progressive and leads to disablement, although some cases enter long, perhaps even permanent, remission. The cause of MS is unknown, although viral activity is suspected. Most patients are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Until recently, treatment had focused on preventing attacks. Steroids, interferon, and medications to treat specific symptoms (such as fatigue, depression, and vertigo) are standard, along with lifestyle changes to avoid stress and other triggers. New treatment options involve immune system modulation or support.
Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, including systemic illnesses (such as influenza), medications, pain, and inner ear disease.
Organ: A relatively independent part of the body that carries out one or more special functions. Examples of organs include the eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and liver.
Pharmacist: A professional who fills prescriptions and, in the case of a compounding pharmacist, makes them. Pharmacists are very familiar with medication ingredients, interactions, and cautions.
Poison: Any substance that can cause severe organ damage or death if ingested, breathed in, or absorbed through the skin. Many substances that normally cause no problems, including water and most vitamins, can be poisonous if taken in excessive quantity. Poison treatment depends on the 'substance.
Poison control center: A special information center set up to inform people about how to respond to potential poisoning. These centers maintain databases of poisons and appropriate emergency treatment. Local poison control centers should be listed with other community-service numbers in the front of the telephone book, and they can also be reached immediately through any telephone operator.
Pregnancy: The state of carrying a developing embryo or fetus within the female body. This condition can be indicated by positive results on an over-the-counter urine test, and confirmed through a blood test, ultrasound, detection of fetal heartbeat, or an X-ray. Pregnancy lasts for about nine months, measured from the date of the woman's last menstrual period (LMP). It is conventionally divided into three trimesters, each roughly three months long.
Prescription: A physician's order for the preparation and administration of a drug or device for a patient. A prescription has several parts. They include the superscription or heading with the symbol "R" or "Rx", which stands for the word recipe (meaning, in Latin, to take); the inscription, which contains the names and quantities of the ingredients; the subscription or directions for compounding the drug; and the signature which is often preceded by the sign "s" standing for signa (Latin for mark), giving the directions to be marked on the container.
Ragweed: Any of several weedy composite herbs that produce a pollen to which many people are allergic. Of all allergy sufferers in the US, 75 percent are allergic to ragweed.
Rash: Breaking out (eruption) of the skin. A rash can be caused by an underlying medical condition, hormonal cycles, allergies, or contact with irritating substances. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the rash. Medically, a rash is referred to as an exanthem.
Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of joints. Rheumatoid disease can also involve inflammation of tissues in other areas of the body, such as the lungs, heart, and eyes. Because it can affect multiple organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness. Although rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness, patients may experience long periods without symptoms. Also known as rheumatoid disease.
Sirolimus: A naturally occurring substance discovered in a soil sample from Easter Island. Sirolimus was initially thought to hold promise as an antifungal antibiotic but this idea was dropped when sirolimus was unexpectedly found to have immunosuppressive activity. The US Food and Drug Administration in 1999 approved the use of sirolimus as an immunosuppressant agent. But earlier in the nineties, evidence had been uncovered that sirolimus was also a potent inhibitor of the growth of smooth muscle cells in blood vessels. The idea was then "hatched" that sirolimus might be used to inhibit the restenosis (reclosure) of coronary arteries. (Today, after a balloon angioplasty has been done to open a clogged coronary artery, a mesh tube called a stent is often inserted to keep the artery open. However, restenosis occurs in up to a third of cases when smooth muscle cells migrate from the vessel wall into the stent. The muscle cells proliferate there and narrow the interior diameter of the stent.) To prevent restenosis, stents coated, or "medicated", with sirolimus came into use. The sirolimus is eluted continuously from the stent and deters or slows restenosis.
Taste: A perception that results from stimulation of a gustatory nerve. Taste belongs to the chemical sensing system. Tasting begins when molecules stimulate special cells in the mouth or throat. These special cells transmit messages through nerves to the brain, where specific tastes are identified. Gustatory, or taste, cells react to food and beverages. The taste cells are clustered in the taste buds of the mouth and throat. Many of the small bumps that can be seen on the tongue contain taste buds. Smell contributes to the sense of taste, as does another chemosensory mechanism, called the common chemical sense. In this system, thousands of nerve endings'especially on the moist surfaces of the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat'give rise to sensations such as the sting of ammonia, the coolness of menthol, and the irritation of chili peppers. People can commonly identify four basic taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. In the mouth, these tastes, along with texture, temperature, and the sensations from the common chemical sense, combine with odors to produce the perception of flavor. Flavors are recognized mainly through the sense of smell. If a person holds his or her nose while eating chocolate, for example, the person will have trouble identifying the chocolate flavor'even though he or she can distinguish the food's sweetness or bitterness. That is because the familiar flavor of chocolate is sensed largely by odor.
Transplant: The grafting of a tissue from one place to another, just as in botany a bud from one plant might be grafted onto the stem of another. The transplanting of tissue can be from one part of the patient to another (autologous transplantation), as in the case of a skin graft using the patient's own skin; or from one patient to another (allogenic transplantation), as in the case of transplanting a donor kidney into a recipient.
Tuberculosis: A highly contagious infection caused by the bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Abbreviated TB. Tubercles (tiny lumps) are a characteristic finding in TB. Diagnosis may be made by skin test, which if positive should will be followed by a chest X-ray to determine the status (active or dormant) of the infection. Tuberculosis is more common in people with immune system problems, such as AIDS, than in the general population. Treatment of active tuberculosis is mandatory by law in the US, and should be available at no cost to the patient through the public health system. It involves a course of antibiotics and vitamins that lasts about six months. It is important to finish the entire treatment, both to prevent reoccurrence and to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. Most patients with tuberculosis do not need to be quarantined, but it is sometimes necessary.
Virus: A microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself. It may reproduce with fidelity or with errors (mutations); this ability to mutate is responsible for the ability of some viruses to change slightly in each infected person, making treatment difficult. Viruses cause many common human infections and are also responsible for a number of rare diseases. Examples of viral illnesses range from the common cold, which can be caused by one of the rhinoviruses, to AIDS, which is caused by HIV. Viruses may contain either DNA or RNA as their genetic material. Herpes simplex virus and the hepatitis B virus are DNA viruses. RNA viruses have an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that permits the usual sequence of DNA-to-RNA to be reversed so that the virus can make a DNA version of itself.
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