The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the epinephrine auto-injector, Epipen, Twinject article.
Allergy: A misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system, the body system of defense against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens (the agents of infection). The allergic reaction is misguided in that these foreign substances are usually harmless. The substances that trigger allergy are called allergen. Examples include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and certain foods. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic.
Amitriptyline: An antidepressant medication. In some patients with depression, abnormal levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters may relate to the depression. Amitriptyline elevates mood by raising the level of neurotransmitters in brain tissue. Amitriptyline is also a sedative that is useful for depressed patients with insomnia, restlessness, and nervousness. It is sometimes used to treat fibromyalgia and symptoms related to chronic pain. Brand names are Elavil and Endep. A generic version is available.
Antidepressants: Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.
Artery: A vessel that carries blood high in oxygen content away from the heart to the farthest reaches of the body. Since blood in arteries is usually full of oxygen, the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is oxygenated. The resultant form of hemoglobin (oxyhemoglobin) is what makes arterial blood look bright red.
Blood pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. It's measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first (systolic pressure) is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second (diastolic pressure) is measured before the heart contracts and lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called "hypertension".
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.
Chest: The area of the body located between the neck and the abdomen. The chest contains the lungs, the heart, and part of the aorta. The walls of the chest are supported by the dorsal vertebrae, the ribs, and the sternum. Also known as thorax.
Chest pain: Pain in the chest that can be a result of many things, including angina, heart attack (coronary occlusion), and other important diseases. Chest pain is a warning to seek medical attention, so one should try not to ignore chest pain and 'work through it.'
Coronary artery disease: Impedance or blockage of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart, usually due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Abbreviated CAD. A major cause of illness and death, CAD begins when hard cholesterol substances (plaques) are deposited within a coronary artery. The plaques in the coronary arteries can lead to the formation of tiny clots that can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle, producing symptoms and signs of CAD, including chest pain (angina pectoris), heart attack (myocardial infarction), and sudden death. Treatment for CAD includes bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty, and the use of stents.
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.
Epinephrine: A substance produced by the medulla (inside) of the adrenal gland. The name epinephrine was coined in 1898 by the American pharmacologist and physiologic chemist (biochemist) John Jacob Abel who isolated it from the adrenal gland which is located above (epi-) the kidney ("nephros" in Greek). (Abel also crystallized insulin). Technically speaking, epinephrine is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart's contraction, opens up the airways (bronchioles) in the lungs and has numerous other effects. The secretion of epinephrine by the adrenal is part of the fight-or-flight reaction. Adrenaline is a synonym of epinephrine and is the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia.
Ergot: A fungus (Claviceps purpurea) that contaminates rye and wheat and that produces substances (alkaloids) called ergotamines. Ergotamines constrict blood vessels and cause the muscle of the uterus to contract. They have been much used for the treatment of migraines. They have also been used and misused to induce abortion. In excess, ergotamines can cause symptoms such as hallucinations, severe gastrointestinal upset, a type of dry gangrene, and a painful burning sensation in the limbs and extremities. Chronic ergot poisoning (ergotism) was rife during the Middle Ages due to the consumption of contaminated rye. Because of the burning pain, it was known as ignis sacer (holy fire) and ignis infernalis (hell's fire), and was one of the causes of St. Anthony's fire. A form of ergot was also the original basis for the illicit drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
Expiration date: The date for a drug estimated for its shelf life with proper storage in sealed containers away from harmful and variable factors like heat and humidity.
FDA: Food and Drug Administration.
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.
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.
Headache: A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck. Headache, like chest pain or back ache, has many causes.
Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. The heart is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone); in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm. A normal heart is about the size of a closed fist and weighs about 298 grams or 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest, with the balance in the right side of the chest. The heart is composed of specialized cardiac muscle, and it is four-chambered, with a right atrium and ventricle, and an anatomically separate left atrium and ventricle. The blood flows from the systemic veins into the right atrium, thence to the right ventricle, from which it is pumped to the lungs and then returned into the left atrium, thence to the left ventricle, from which it is driven into the systemic arteries. The heart is thus functionally composed of two hearts: the right heart and the left heart. The right heart consists of the right atrium, which receives deoxygenated blood from the body, and the right ventricle, which pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs under low pressure; and the left heart, which consists of the left atrium, which receives oxygenated blood from the lung, and the left ventricle, which pumps the oxygenated blood out to the body under high pressure.
Heart disease: Any disorder that affects the heart. Sometimes the term "heart disease" is used narrowly and incorrectly as a synonym for coronary artery disease. Heart disease is synonymous with cardiac disease but not with cardiovascular disease which is any disease of the heart or blood vessels. Among the many types of heart disease, see, for example: Angina; Arrhythmia; Congenital heart disease; Coronary artery disease (CAD); Dilated cardiomyopathy; Heart attack (myocardial infarction); Heart failure; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Mitral regurgitation; Mitral valve prolapse; and Pulmonary stenosis.
High blood pressure: A repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg. Chronic high blood pressure can stealthily cause blood vessel changes in the back of the eye (retina), abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, kidney failure, and brain damage. No specific cause for high blood pressure is found in 95 percent of patients. Treatment for high blood pressure involves dietary changes, regular aerobic exercise, and medication. There are many types of medications used to treat high blood pressure including diuretics, beta-blockers, blood vessel dilators, and others. Also known as hypertension.
Hives: A raised, itchy area of skin that may be a sign of an allergic reaction. It can be rounded or flat-topped but is always elevated above the surrounding skin. It reflects circumscribed dermal edema (local swelling of the skin). The hives are usually well circumscribed but may be coalescent and will blanch with pressure. A single spot is almost always gone by 24 hours but the process may stay for weeks to months. Approximately 20% of the population has experienced a bout of hives.
Levothyroxine: A synthetic thyroid hormone used as a thyroid hormone replacement drug (brand names include Levothroid, Levoxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid) used to treat an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Lips: Aside from the lips of the mouth, there are two pairs of lips at the entrance to the vagina. They are the labia majora (the larger outside pair) and the labia minora (the smaller inside pair). Together they form part of the vulva (the female external genitalia).
Medical history: 1. In clinical medicine, the patient's past and present which may contain relevant information bearing on their health past, present, and future. The medical history, being an account of all medical events and problems a person has experienced is an important tool in the management of the patient.
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.
Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia. Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.
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.
Sweating: The act of secreting fluid from the skin by the sweat (sudoriferous) glands. These are small tubular glands situated within and under the skin (in the subcutaneous tissue). They discharge by tiny openings in the surface of the skin.
Thigh: The thick, muscular portion of the leg that extends from the hip to the knee. The thigh has only one bone, the femur, which is the largest bone in the human body.
Throat: The throat is the anterior (front) portion of the neck beginning at the back of the mouth, consisting anatomically of the pharynx and larynx. The throat contains the trachea and a portion of the esophagus.
Thyroid: 1. The thyroid gland. Also, pertaining to the thyroid gland. 2. A preparation of the thyroid gland used to treat hypothyroidism. 3. Shaped like a shield. (The thyroid gland was so-named by Thomas Wharton in 1656 because it was shaped like an ancient Greek shield.)
Thyroid hormones: Chemical substances made by the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck. This gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones, which are essential for the function of every cell in the body. They help regulate growth and the rate of chemical reactions (metabolism), and are involved in the circadian rhythms that govern sleep, among other essential functions.
Vein: A blood vessel that carries blood that is low in oxygen content from the body back to the heart. The deoxygenated form of hemoglobin (deoxy-hemoglobin) in venous blood makes it appear dark. Veins are part of the afferent wing of the circulatory system, which returns blood to the heart. In contrast, an artery is a vessel that carries blood that is high in oxygen away from the heart to the body.
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