The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the nortriptyline, Pamelor, Aventyl article.
Abnormal: Outside the expected norm, or uncharacteristic of a particular patient.
Acetylcholine: A neurotransmitter released by nerves that is essential for communication between the nerves and muscles.
ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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.
Anticholinergic: Opposing the actions of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Anticholinergic drugs inhibit the transmission of parasympathetic nerve impulses, thereby reducing spasms of smooth muscles (for example, muscles in the bladder). Side effects of anticholinergic medications include dry mouth and related dental problems, blurred vision, tendency toward overheating (hyperpyrexia), and in some cases, dementia-like symptoms.
Antidepressants: Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.
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".
Blurred vision: Lack of sharpness of vision with, as a result, the inability to see fine detail. Blurred vision can occur when a person who wears corrective lens is without them. Blurred vision can also be an important clue to eye disease.
Brain: The portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It functions as a primary receiver, organizer, and distributor of information for the body. It has a right half and a left half, each of which is called a hemisphere.
Breast milk: Milk from the breast. Human milk contains a balance of nutrients that closely matches infant requirements for brain development, growth and a healthy immune system. Human milk also contains immunologic agents and other compounds that act against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Since an infant's immune system is not fully developed until age 2, human milk provides a distinct advantage over formula.
Cancer: An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread).
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).
Chronic pain: Pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
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.
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).
Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by diabetes that leads to numbness and sometimes pain and weakness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Diabetic neuropathy can affect the digestive tract, heart, and genitalia. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk of neuropathy. There are four types of diabetic neuropathy: peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal. Peripheral neuropathy, the most common, causes pain or loss of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Autonomic neuropathy can cause changes in digestion, bowel and bladder control problems, and erectile dysfunction, and it can affect the nerves that serve the heart and control blood pressure. Proximal neuropathy produces pain in the thighs and hips and weakness in the legs. Focal neuropathy can strike any nerve in the body, causing pain or weakness. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy principally involves bringing the blood glucose and glycohemoglobin levels into the normal range. Good foot care is mandatory. Analgesics, low doses of antidepressants, and some anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed for relief of pain, burning, or tingling. Some patients may find that walking regularly, taking warm baths, and using elastic stockings help relieve leg pain due to diabetic neuropathy.
Elavil: See: Amitriptyline.
Endep: See: Amitriptyline.
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.).
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.
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 rate: The number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. The heart rate is based on the number of contractions of the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart). The heart rate may be too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). The pulse is a bulge of an artery from waves of blood that course through the blood vessels each time the heart beats. The pulse is often taken at the wrist to estimate the heart rate.
Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, irrespective of the cause. Hepatitis is caused by a number of conditions, including drug toxicity, immune diseases, and viruses.
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.
Hyperactivity: A higher than normal level of activity. An organ can be described as hyperactive if it is more active than usual. Behavior can also be hyperactive.
Ileus: Obstruction of the intestine due to its being paralyzed. The paralysis does not need to be complete to cause ileus, but the intestine must be so inactive that food cannot pass through it, which leads to blockage of the intestine. Ileus commonly follows some types of surgery. It can also result from certain drugs, injuries, and illnesses. Regardless of the cause, ileus causes constipation and bloating. When one listens to the abdomen with a stethoscope, no bowel sounds are heard because the bowel is inactive. Also known as paralytic ileus.
Intestine: The long, tubelike organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. It consists of the small and large intestines.
Lactation: The process of milk production. Human milk is secreted by the mammary glands, which are located within the fatty tissue of the breast. The hormone oxytocin is produced in response to the birth of a new baby, and it both stimulates uterine contractions and begins the lactation process. For the first few hours of nursing, a special fluid called colostrum is delivered; colostrum is especially high in nutrients, fats, and antibodies, to protect the newborn from infection. Thereafter, the amount of milk produced is controlled primarily by the hormone prolactin, which is produced in response to the length of time the infant nurses at the breast. See also breastfeeding.
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.
Low blood pressure: Any blood pressure that is below the normal expected for an individual in a given environment. Low blood pressure is also referred to as hypotension.
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.
Migraine: Usually, periodic attacks of headaches on one or both sides of the head. These may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity of the eyes to light (photophobia), increased sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), dizziness, blurred vision, cognitive disturbances, and other symptoms. Some migraines do not include headache, and migraines may or may not be preceded by an aura.
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.
Neuropathy: Any disease or malfunction of the nerves.
Neurotransmitter: A chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another.
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.
Off-label use: In the United States, the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permit physicians to prescribe approved medications for other than their intended indications. This practice is known as off-label use.
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.
Paralytic ileus: Obstruction of the intestine due to paralysis of the intestinal muscles. The paralysis does not need to be complete to cause ileus, but the intestinal muscles must be so inactive that it prevents the passage of food and leads to a functional blockage of the intestine. Ileus commonly follows some types of surgery, especially abdominal surgery. It also can result from certain drugs, spinal injuries, inflammation anywhere within the abdomen that touches the intestines, and diseases of the intestinal muscles themselves. Irrespective of the cause, ileus causes constipation, abdominal distention, and nausea and vomiting. On listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope, few or no bowel sounds are heard (because the bowel is inactive). Also called paralytic ileus. Also simply called ileus.
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.
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.
Serotonin: A neurotransmitter that is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Serotonin can trigger the release of substances in the blood vessels of the brain that in turn cause the pain of migraine. Serotonin is also key to mood regulation; pain perception; gastrointestinal function, including perception of hunger and satiety; and other physical functions.
Tension: 1) The pressure within a vessel, such as blood pressure: the pressure within the blood vessels. For example, elevated blood pressure is referred to as hypertension. 2) Stress, especially stress that is translated into clenched scalp muscles and bottled-up emotions or anxiety. This is the type of tension blamed for tension headaches.
Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.
Tricyclic antidepressants: One of a class of medications used to treat depression. The tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are also used for some forms of anxiety, fibromyalgia, and the control of chronic pain.
Urinary: Having to do with the function or anatomy of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. For example, the urinary tract is the collection of organs of the body that produce, store, and discharge urine.
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