The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the multivitamins (includes prenatal vitamins) - oral article.
Allergic reaction: The hypersensitive response of the immune system of an allergic individual to a substance.
Anemia: The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of hemoglobin. Anemia diminishes the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen. Patients with anemia may feel tired, fatigue easily, appear pale, develop palpitations, and become short of breath. Children with chronic anemia are prone to infections and learning problems. The main causes of anemia are bleeding, hemolysis (excessive destruction of red blood cells), underproduction of red blood cells (as in bone marrow diseases), and underproduction of normal hemoglobin (as in sickle cell anemia and in iron deficiency anemia). Women are more likely than men to have anemia because of menstrual blood loss. In children, anemia is most commonly due to insufficient iron in the diet. Anemia is also often due to gastrointestinal bleeding caused by medications, including such common drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Anti-: Prefix generally meaning "against, opposite or opposing, and contrary." In medicine, anti- often connotes "counteracting or effective against" as in antibacterial, anti-infective, and antiviral. Sometimes medical terms containing anti- take on new meanings as has occurred with antibiotic and antibody. As a prefix, anti- may be shortened to ant- as in antacid. "Anti" is the Greek word for "against."
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.
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.
Constipation: Infrequent and frequently incomplete bowel movements. Constipation is the opposite of diarrhea and is commonly caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, and medications. Paradoxically, constipation can also be caused by overuse of laxatives. Colon cancer can also narrow the colon and thereby cause constipation. A high-fiber diet can frequently relieve constipation. If the diet is not helpful, medical evaluation is warranted.
Diarrhea: A common condition that involves unusually frequent and liquid bowel movements. The opposite of constipation. There are many infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea is both uncomfortable and dangerous to the health because it can indicate an underlying infection and may mean that the body is not able to absorb some nutrients due to a problem in the bowels. Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and taking over-the-counter remedies. People with diarrhea that persists for more than a couple days, particularly small children or elderly people, should seek medical attention.
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.
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.
Folic acid: One of the B vitamins that is a key factor in the synthesis (the making) of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA).
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.
Iron: An essential mineral. Iron is necessary for the transport of oxygen (via hemoglobin in red blood cells) and for oxidation by cells (via cytochrome). Deficiency of iron is a common cause of anemia. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and cereals (especially those fortified with iron). According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowances of iron are 15 milligrams per day for women and 10 milligrams per day for men. Iron overload can damage the heart, liver, gonads and other organs. Iron overload is a particular risk in people who may have certain genetic conditions (hemochromatosis) sometimes without knowing it and also in people receiving recurrent blood transfusions. Iron supplements meant for adults (such as pregnant women) are a major cause of poisoning in children.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nerve: A bundle of fibers that uses electrical and chemical signals to transmit sensory and motor information from one body part to another. The fibrous portions of a nerve are covered by a sheath called myelin and/or a membrane called neurilemma. (Note that entries for specific nerves can be found under the names of the particular nerves. For example, the optic nerve is not under 'nerve, optic' but rather under 'optic nerve.')
Neuropathy: Any disease or malfunction of the nerves.
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.
Peripheral: Situated away from the center, as opposed to centrally located.
Peripheral neuropathy: A problem with the functioning of the nerves outside the spinal cord. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes.
Pernicious anemia: Low red blood cell count caused by inadequate vitamin B12. Abbreviated PA. Patients with PA do not produce intrinsic factor (IF), a substance that allows the body to absorb vitamin B12 from foods. The resulting inadequacy of vitamin B12 hampers the production of red blood cells. PA can be treated by injection of vitamin B12: oral administration will not work because people with PA cannot absorb orally administered vitamin B12. Also known as Addison's anemia.
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.
Poisoning: Taking a substance that is injurious to health or can cause death. Poisoning is still a major hazard to children, despite child-resistant (and sometimes adult-resistant) packaging and dose-limits per container.
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.
Prenatal: Occurring or existing before birth.
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.
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.
Seizure: Uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms.
Stomach: The digestive organ that is located in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. The upper part of the stomach connects to the esophagus, and the lower part leads into the small intestine. When food enters the stomach, muscles in the stomach wall create a rippling motion (peristalsis) that mixes and mashes the food. At the same time, juices made by glands in the lining of the stomach help digest the food. After about 3 hours, the food becomes a liquid and moves into the small intestine, where digestion continues.
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.)
Ulcer: A lesion that is eroding away the skin or mucous membrane. Ulcers can have various causes, depending on their location. Ulcers on the skin are usually due to irritation, as in the case of bedsores, and may become inflamed and/or infected as they grow. Ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract were once attributed to stress, but most are now believed to be due to infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. GI ulcers, however, are often made worse by stress, smoking, and other noninfectious factors.
Vitamin B12: A vitamin important for the normal formation of red blood cells and the health of the nerve tissues. Undetected and untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and permanent nerve and brain damage.
Vitamins: The word "vitamin" was coined in 1911 by the Warsaw-born biochemist Casimir Funk (1884-1967). At the Lister Institute in London, Funk isolated a substance that prevented nerve inflammation (neuritis) in chickens raised on a diet deficient in that substance. He named the substance "vitamine" because he believed it was necessary to life and it was a chemical amine. The "e" at the end was later removed when it was recognized that vitamins need not be amines.
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