The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the methylprednisolone, Medrol, Depo-Medrol article.
Absorption: Uptake. For example, intestinal absorption is the uptake of food (or other substances) from the digestive tract.
Acute: Of abrupt onset, in reference to a disease. Acute often also connotes an illness that is of short duration, rapidly progressive, and in need of urgent care.
Allergic rhinitis: Medical term for hay fever, an allergic reaction that mimics a chronic cold. Symptoms include nasal congestion, a clear runny nose, sneezing, nose and eye itching, and tearing of the eyes. Postnasal dripping of clear mucus frequently causes a cough, loss of smell is common, and occasionally loss of taste. Nosebleeds may occur. Also known as June cold and summer cold.
Antibiotic: A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another. Synthetic antibiotics, usually chemically related to natural antibiotics, have since been produced that accomplish comparable tasks.
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).
Aseptic: The absence of microorganisms. By contrast, something that just discourages the growth of microorganisms is antiseptic.
Aseptic necrosis: Condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Also called avascular necrosis and osteonecrosis.
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.
Atopic: A predisposition toward developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions. Atopy may have a hereditary component, although contact with the allergen must occur before the hypersensitivity reaction can develop.
Atopic dermatitis: A skin disease characterized by areas of severe itching, redness, scaling, and loss of the surface of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is frequently associated with other allergic disorders, especially asthma and hay fever. A defect of the immune system within the skin has been detected in patients who have atopic dermatitis, but the reason for the defect is unknown.
Birth control: Birth control is the use of any practices, methods, or devices to prevent pregnancy from occurring in a sexually active woman. Also referred to as family planning, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, or contraception; birth control methods are designed either to prevent fertilization of an egg or implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
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".
Calcium: A mineral found mainly in the hard part of bones, where it is stored. Calcium is added to bone by cells called osteoblasts and removed from bone by cells called osteoclasts. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and is also important for muscle contraction, heart action, and normal blood clotting. Food sources of calcium include dairy foods; some leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and collards; canned salmon; clams; oysters; calcium-fortified foods; and soy foods, such as tofu. According to the National Academy of Sciences, adequate intake of calcium is 1 gram daily for both men and women. The upper limit for calcium intake is 2.5 grams daily.
Chickenpox: A highly infectious viral disease also known medically as varicella -- in many countries, this disease is always called "varicella" -- that causes a blister-like rash, itching, fatigue and fever. The rash crops up first on the face and trunk and can spread over the entire body resulting in 250 to 500 itchy blisters.
See the entire definition of Chickenpox
Chronic: In medicine, lasting a long time. A chronic condition is one that lasts 3 months or more. Chronic diseases are in contrast to those that are acute (abrupt, sharp, and brief) or subacute (within the interval between acute and chronic).
Colitis: Inflammation of the large intestine (the colon). There are many forms of colitis, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, infectious, pseudomembranous, and spastic. For example, intermittent rectal bleeding, crampy abdominal pain and diarrhea can be symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Diagnosis can be made by direct visualization using (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) which is the most accurate test. Long-standing ulcerative colitis increases the risk for colon cancer. Ulcerative colitis can also be associated with inflammation in joints, spine, skin, eyes, the liver and its bile ducts. Treatment of ulcerative colitis can involve medications and surgery.
Conjunctiva: A thin, clear, moist membrane that coats the inner surfaces of the eyelids (palpebral conjunctiva) and the outer surface of the eye (ocular, or bulbar, conjunctiva). Inflammation of the conjunctiva is called conjunctivitis (pinkeye).
Corticosteroid: Any of the steroid hormones made by the outer portion (cortex) of the adrenal gland. There are two sets of these hormones: the glucocorticoids, which are produced in reaction to stress and also help in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins; and the mineralocorticoids, which regulate the balance of salt and water within the body.
Crohn's disease: A chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. It is named for Burrill Crohn, the American gastroenterologist who first described the disease in 1932.
Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away. People with depression cannot merely 'pull themselves together' and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression. The signs and symptoms of depression include loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex; loss of appetite, with weight loss, or overeating, with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); a persistently sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; unusual fatigue, low energy level, a feeling of being slowed down; sleep disturbance and insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; unusual restlessness or irritability; persistent physical problems such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment, and thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts. The principal types of depression are called major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (manic-depressive disease).
Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin, either due to direct contact with an irritating substance, or to an allergic reaction. Symptoms of dermatitis include redness, itching, and in some cases blistering.
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).
Effective dose: The dose of a drug that will achieve the desired effect.
Erythromycin: Erythromycin is a common antibiotic for treating bacterial infection. Sold under many brand names, including EES, Erycin and Erythromia.
Estrogens: Female hormones produced by the ovaries. Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.
Euphoria: Elevated mood. Euphoria is a desirable and natural occurrence when it results from happy or exciting events. An excessive degree of euphoria that is not linked to events is characteristic of hypomania or mania, abnormal mood states associated with bipolar disorders.
Flare: 1. an exacerbation of a chronic disease. Sometimes referred to as a flare-up, a flare occurs when symptoms of a disease that has been present for a time suddenly worsen. A flare is a transient worsening in severity of a disease or condition that eventually subsides or lessens. For example, in many arthritis conditions the joints can flare with worsening of stiffness, pain, and swelling. 2. An area of skin redness surrounding a site of an injection or other irritation.
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.
Glaucoma: A common eye condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eyes rises because of slowed fluid drainage from the eye. If untreated, it may damage the optic nerve and other parts of the eye, causing the loss of vision or even blindness.
Gouty arthritis: An attack that is usually extremely painful of joint inflammation due to deposits of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid (synovial fluid) and joint lining (synovial lining). Intense joint inflammation occurs as white blood cells engulf the uric acid crystals, causing pain, heat, and redness of the joint tissues. The term "gout" commonly is used to refer to these painful arthritis attacks but gouty arthritis is only one manifestation of gout.
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.
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.
Immune: Protected against infection, usually by the presence of antibodies.
Immune response: Any reaction by the immune system. For example, poison ivy can cause an immune response in the skin characterized by inflammation with tiny blisters, and itching. Also, a flu shot is designed to produce an immune response by stimulating the production of antibodies against the flu virus.
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.
Inflammation: A localized reaction that produces redness, warmth, swelling, and pain as a result of infection, irritation, or injury. Inflammation can be external or internal.
Insomnia: The perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep due to a number of factors, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or unrefreshing sleep. Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep; it is a measure of satisfaction with sleep. Individuals vary normally in their need for and their satisfaction with sleep. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
Iris: The circular, colored curtain of the eye. The opening of the iris forms the pupil. The iris helps regulate the amount of light that enters the eye.
Joint: The area where two bones are attached for the purpose of permitting body parts to move. A joint is usually formed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage. Joints are grouped according to their type of motion: ball-and-socket joint; hinge joint; condyloid joint, which permits all forms of angular movement except axial rotation; pivot joint; gliding joint; or saddle joint. Joints can move in only four ways: gliding, in which one bony surface glides on another, without angular or rotatory movement; angular, a movement that occurs only between long bones, increasing or decreasing the angle between the bones; circumduction, which occurs in joints composed of the head of a bone and an articular cavity, with the long bone describing a series of circles and the whole forming a cone; and rotation, in which a bone moves about a central axis without moving from this axis. Also known as articulation and arthrosis.
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.
Macrolide: One in a class of antibiotics that includes Biaxin, Clarithromycin, Ery-Tab, and Erythromycin.
Malaria: An infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites from the Plasmodium family that can be transmitted by the sting of the Anopheles mosquito or by a contaminated needle or transfusion. Falciparum malaria is the most deadly type.
Measles: An acute and highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and a spreading skin rash. Measles, also known as rubeola, is a potentially disastrous disease. It can be complicated by ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (which can cause convulsions, mental retardation, and even death), the sudden onset of low blood platelet levels with severe bleeding (acute thrombocytopenic purpura), or a chronic brain disease that occurs months to years after an attack of measles (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis).
Metabolism: The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the buildup of substances) and catabolism (the breakdown of substances). The term metabolism is commonly used to refer specifically to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.
Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called "skeletal muscle." Heart muscle is called "cardiac muscle." Muscle that is in the walls of arteries and bowel is called "smooth muscle."
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.
Nursing: 1) Profession concerned with the provision of services essential to the maintenance and restoration of health by attending the needs of sick persons. 2) Feeding a infant at the breast.
Optic: Having to do with vision.
Osteoporosis: Thinning of the bones, with reduction in bone mass, due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. Osteoporosis predisposes a person to fractures, which are often slow to heal and heal poorly. It is most common in older adults, particularly postmenopausal women, and in patients who take steroids or steroidal drugs. Unchecked osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture, physical abnormality (particularly the form of hunched back known colloquially as dowager?s hump), and decreased mobility. Treatment of osteoporosis includes exercise (especially weight-bearing exercise that builds bone density), ensuring that the diet contains adequate calcium and other minerals needed to promote new bone growth, use of medications to improve bone density, and sometimes for postmenopausal women, use of hormone therapy.
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.
Pemphigus: One of a group of chronic, relapsing autoimmune skin diseases that cause blisters and erosions of the skin and mucous membranes. The immune system mistakenly regards the cells in the skin and mucous membranes as foreign and attacks them.
Potassium: The major positive ion (cation) found inside cells. The chemical notation for potassium is K+. The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. An abnormal increase in potassium (hyperkalemia) or decrease in potassium (hypokalemia) can profoundly affect the nervous system and heart, and when extreme, can be fatal. The normal blood potassium level is 3.5'5.0 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or 3.5 international units.
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.
Pregnant: The state of carrying a developing fetus within the body.
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.
Probability: The likelihood that something will happen. For example, a probability of less than .05 indicates that the likelihood of something occurring by chance alone is less than 5 in 100, or 5 percent. This level of probability is usually taken as the level of biologic significance, so a higher incidence may be considered meaningful. Abbreviated p.
Psoriasis: A reddish, scaly rash often located over the surfaces of the elbows, knees, scalp, and around or in the ears, navel, genitals or buttocks. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is mediated by T lymphocytes. It is also a very common disease, Chronic plaque psoriasis affects approximately 2% of people around the world. About 10-15% of patients with psoriasis develop joint inflammation (inflammatory arthritis). Treatment options include topical steroid creams, tar soap preparations, and exposure to ultraviolet light.
Psoriatic arthritis: Joint inflammation that is associated with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is a potentially destructive and deforming form of arthritis that affects approximately 10 percent of persons with psoriasis.
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.
Rhinitis: Irritation of the nose.
Seborrheic dermatitis: A medical name for what is popularly called seborrhea.
Shock: In medicine, a critical condition that is brought on by a sudden drop in blood flow through the body. The circulatory system fails to maintain adequate blood flow, sharply curtailing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. It also compromises the kidneys and so restricts the removal of wastes from the body. Shock can be due to a number of different mechanisms, including not enough blood volume and not enough output of blood by the heart. The signs and symptoms of shock include low blood pressure (hypotension); overbreathing (hyperventilation); a weak, rapid pulse; cold, clammy, grayish-bluish (cyanotic) skin; decreased urine flow (oliguria); and a sense of great anxiety and foreboding, confusion, and sometimes combativeness. Shock, which is a major medical emergency, is common after serious injury. Emergency care for shock involves keeping the patient warm, giving fluids by mouth or, if necessary, intravenously, and frequently the administration of drugs that act to improve cardiac and circulatory function.
Smallpox: A highly contagious and frequently fatal viral disease that is characterized by a biphasic fever and a distinctive skin rash that leaves pock marks in its wake. Because of its high case-fatality rates and transmissibility and because people haven't been vaccinated against it in years, smallpox now represents a serious bioterrorist threat. The disease is caused by the variola virus. The incubation period is about 12 days (range: 7'17 days) following exposure. Initial symptoms include high fever, fatigue, headaches, and backaches. A characteristic rash, most prominent on the face, arms, and legs, follows in 2 to 3 days. The rash starts with flat red lesions that evolve in 2 to 3 days. Lesions become pus-filled and begin to crust early in the second week. Scabs develop and then separate and fall off after about 3 to 4 weeks. The majority of patients with smallpox recover, but death occurs in up to 30 percent of cases. Smallpox is spread from one person to another via infected saliva droplets as occurs during face to face contact. Persons with smallpox are most infectious during the first week of illness because that is when the largest amount of virus is present in saliva. However, some risk of transmission lasts until all scabs have fallen off. Also known as variola.
Smallpox vaccine: A vaccine that contains a live virus called vaccinia that is used to prevent smallpox. The vaccine does not contain the variola virus that causes smallpox, but exposes the immune system to proteins that look like the virus so that an immune response occurs. Through the use of the vaccine, smallpox was eliminated from causing human infection in the world in 1977. Routine vaccination against smallpox ended in 1972. The level of immunity among persons who were vaccinated before 1972 is uncertain. In people exposed to smallpox who are not immune to the disease, the vaccine can lessen the severity of or even prevent the illness if given within 4 days of exposure.
Systemic: Affecting the entire body. A systemic disease such as diabetes can affect the whole body. Systemic chemotherapy employs drugs that travel through the bloodstream and reach and affect cells all over the body.
Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.
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.
Ulceration: The process or fact of being eroded away, as by an ulcer.
Ulcerative colitis: A bowel disease that is characterized by inflammation with ulcer formation in the lining of colon (large intestine). Its cause is unknown. The end of the colon (the rectum) is generally involved. When limited to the rectum, the disease is called ulcerative proctitis. The inflammation may extend to varying degrees into the upper parts of the colon. When the entire colon is involved, it is referred to as pancolitis or universal colitis. Symptoms include intermittent rectal bleeding, crampy abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Many patients experience long remissions, even without medication. Ulcerative colitis may mysteriously resolve after a long history of symptoms. Direct visualization (via sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) and biopsy of the lining of the bowel is the most accurate diagnostic test. Treatment of ulcerative colitis involves medications and/or surgery; changes in diet can sometimes help.
Vaccines: Microbial preparations of killed or modified microorganisms that can stimulate an immune response in the body to prevent future infection with similar microorganisms. These preparations are usually delivered by injection.
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.
Viruses: Small living particles that can infect cells and change how the cells function. Infection with a virus can cause a person to develop symptoms. The disease and symptoms that are caused depend on the type of virus and the type of cells that are infected.
Vitamin D: A steroid vitamin which promotes the intestinal absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Under normal conditions of sunlight exposure, no dietary supplementation is necessary because sunlight promotes adequate vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Deficiency can lead to bone deformity (rickets) in children and bone weakness (osteomalacia) in adults.
Warfarin: An anticoagulant drug (brand names: Coumarin, Panwarfin, Sofarin) taken to prevent the blood from clotting and to treat blood clots and overly thick blood. Warfarin is also used to reduce the risk of clots causing strokes or heart attacks.
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