The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the thalidomide, Thalomid article.
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".
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.
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.
Cisplatin: An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called platinum compounds. Cisplatin is used in the treatment of a wide range of malignancies, including advanced cancer of the ovary, testis, and bladder. Cisplatin is given intravenously. Its full chemical name is cis-dichlorodiammineplatinum.
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.
Erythema: Redness of the skin that results from capillary congestion. Erythema can occur with inflammation, as in sunburn and allergic reactions to drugs.
Erythema nodosum: An inflammatory reaction that occurs deep in the skin and is characterized by the presence of tender, red, raised lumps or nodules that range in size from 1 to 5 centimeters and are most commonly located over the shins but occasionally on the arms or other areas. The causes of erythema nodosum include medications (such as sulfa-related drugs, birth control pills, estrogens, iodides, and bromides), strep throat, cat scratch fever, fungal diseases, infectious mononucleosis, sarcoidosis, Behcet's syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), and normal pregnancy. In many cases, no cause can be determined. Erythema nodosum may be self-limited. If treatment is needed, the underlying condition is treated, and treatment is simultaneously directed toward the erythema nodosum itself. Treatment can include anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone given by mouth or injection. Colchicine is sometime used effectively to reduce inflammation.
FDA: Food and Drug Administration.
Fetus: An unborn offspring, from the embryo stage (the end of the eighth week after conception, when the major structures have formed) until birth.
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 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.
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).
Hypertension: High blood pressure, defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg -- a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90.
Hypotension: Any blood pressure that is below the normal expected for an individual in a given environment. Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure).
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.
Impotence: A common problem among men characterized by the consistent inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse or the inability to achieve ejaculation, or both. Impotence can vary. It can involve a total inability to achieve an erection or ejaculation, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only very brief erections.
Incidence: The frequency with which something, such as a disease or trait, appears in a particular population or area.
Leprosy: An infectious disease of the skin, nervous system, and mucous membranes that is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is transmitted via person-to-person contact. For thousands of years leprosy was one of the world's most feared communicable diseases because the nerve and skin damage often led to terrible disfigurement and disability. Today leprosy can be cured, particularly if treatment is begun early. Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment. Surgery can be performed to reconstruct damaged faces and limbs. Also known as Hansen's disease.
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.
Multiple myeloma: A bone marrow cancer that involves a type of white blood cell called a plasma (or myeloma) cell. The tumor cells in myeloma can form a single collection (plasmacytoma) or many tumors (multiple myeloma). Plasma cells are normally part of the immune system; they make antibodies. Because myeloma patients have an excess of identical plasma cells, they have too much of one type of antibody. As myeloma cells increase in number, they damage and weaken the bones, causing pain and often fractures. When bones are damaged, too much calcium is released into the blood, leading to loss of appetite, nausea, thirst, fatigue, muscle weakness, restlessness, and confusion. Myeloma cells prevent the bone marrow from forming normal plasma cells and other white blood cells that are important to the immune system, so patients with multiple myeloma may not be able to fight infections. Myeloma cells can also prevent the growth of new red blood cells in the marrow, causing anemia. Excess antibody proteins and calcium may prevent the kidneys from filtering and cleaning the blood properly. Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant are the primary treatments. Also known as plasma cell myeloma and myeloma.
Mycobacterium: A large family of bacteria that have unusually waxy cell walls that are resistant to digestion.
Mycobacterium leprae: The bacillus responsible for leprosy (Hansen disease). Mycobacterium leprae is an obligate parasite that has to live within cells. There it is able to withstand the onslaught of enzymes and other forces by virtue of possessing a peculiarly resistant waxy coat and thanks also to its association with lowered cellular immunity. See also: Hansen disease.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis: The bacterium that causes tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis has unusually waxy walls, is slow-growing and among the most recalcitrant bacteria to treatment. The complete genome sequence of M. tuberculosis was published in 1998 revealing remarkably large proportion of its coding capacity devoted to producing enzymes involved in lipogenesis and lipolysis, the buildup and breakdown of lipids (fats). For more information, see: Tuberculosis.
Myeloma: A tumor of antibody-producing cells, called plasma cells, that are normally found in the bone marrow.
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.
Parasite: A plant or an animal organism that lives in or on another and takes its nourishment from that other organism. Parasitic diseases include infections that are due to protozoa, helminths, or arthropods. For example, malaria is caused by Plasmodium, a parasitic protozoa.
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.
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.
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.
Sarcoma: One of a group of tumors usually arising from connective tissue. Most sarcomas are malignant. Many types are named after the type of cell, tissue, or structure involved, as in angiosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, liposarcoma,and osteosarcoma.
Sedative: A drug that calms a patient, easing agitation and permitting sleep. Sedatives generally work by modulating signals within the central nervous system. If sedatives are misused or accidentally combined, as in the case of combining prescription sedatives with alcohol, they can dangerously depress important signals that are needed to maintain heart and lung function. Most sedatives also have addictive potential. For these reasons, sedatives should be used under supervision and only as necessary.
Sensitivity: 1. In psychology, the quality of being sensitive. As, for example, sensitivity training, training in small groups to develop a sensitive awareness and understanding of oneself and of ones relationships with others. 2. In disease epidemiology, the ability of a system to detect epidemics and other changes in disease occurrence. 3. In screening for a disease, the proportion of persons with the disease who are correctly identified by a screening test. 4. In the definition of a disease, the proportion of persons with the disease who are correctly identified by defined criteria.
Sperm: A sperm is the male "gamete" or sex cell. It combines with the female "gamete," called an ovum, to form a zygote. The formation process is called "fertilization." (see ovum, zygote).
Syndrome: A combination of symptoms and signs that together represent a disease process.
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.
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