A1C: A laboratory parameter from blood sample, also known as HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin. Most commonly used to determine pre-diabetes or diabetes as it basically shows how high blood sugar level was in the past 2-3 months. This works because glucose molecules circulating in high concentrations can bind to hemoglobins (this is the oxygen-carrying molecule of blood) of RBCs spontaneously (without the aid of an enzyme), thus forming an HbA1C molecule which remains in the RBC until its death. Since an RBC’s average lifespan is 120 days, that is also how long HbA1C molecules remain in blood on average. The higher blood glucose level in this period, the more “normal" hemoglobins are converted into HbA1C molecules. The lab test shows the percentage of HbA1C compared to total hemoglobin, and 5.7 to 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes and above 6.5% means diabetes.
ADHD: Abbreviation of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. One of the most common psychiatric disease among children, which can continue into adulthood. It covers three symptom groups: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Known causes are mainly genetic, although, preterm birth, brain trauma can contribute to the development of the disease, or even if the mother was smoking or drinking during pregnancy.
AIDS: Abbreviation of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is caused by HIV virus infection. HIV infected people are asymptomatic for a long time, their immune system deteriorate through decades, which is AIDS itself, the terminal stage of the infection. Although there is no cure for the condition, numerous antiviral drugs (Biktarvy, Crixivan, Edurant stb.) have been developed, with which people can live a long and full life. AIDS is typically not the direct cause of patient death, but the development of another infection or tumor, which would not pose significant risk on a healthy immune system, but grave immune deficiency renders the condition lethal.
Alzheimer’s disease: The most common brain disease causing dementia with the symptoms including decline in cognitive functions and thinking, and gradually worsens over time. The disease is caused by the pathological accumulation of two, otherwise normal, proteins which progressively become toxic to nerve cells and eventually kill them. The root cause is still unknown, but the genetic background plays an essential role, and hypertension, diabetes and depression can be risk factors. Primarily begins at older age.
andrologist: A medical specialist dealing specifically with men’s healthcare problems, especially with male genitals and fertility. This is why an andrologist is also a urologist. The term comes from the ancient Greek words “andros" (man) and “logia" (study, science). In clinical practice, their tasks include physical examination, routine screening, diagnosis, and sometimes minor surgeries (e.g. vasectomy).
antibiotics: A medicinal product either killing bacteria or hindering bacterial growth by blocking bacterial cells’ biochemical pathways. The first antibiotics, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, who extracted it from funghi. It’s important to note that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, as they basically do not have biochemical pathways, so they don’t do much against a common cold or flu. Unfinished antibiotic courses can lead to bacterial antibiotic resistance, which was already predicted by Fleming. On the other hand, overuse of these drugs can decimate your gut flora, as it mostly consist of bacteria too.
anti-fungal drug: A type of medication inhibiting fungus growth, also known as antimycotics. These drugs generally block fungal cell wall growth by inhibiting ergosterol production, which is an essential component of fungal cell membrane. The most common active substances are fluconazole, ketoconazole, itraconazole and terbinafine. Although, fungi are also part of normal microbiota, they can overgrow typically on the skin where surfaces meet or on mucosal membranes, and in rare cases, they can even cause systemic infections. Personal hygiene is key in prevention, especially wiping all skin surfaces dry, as water is essential for the survival of fungi (yet it’s true for oxygen too).
antioxidant: A molecule in cells that neutralizes unstable chemicals, mainly reactive free radicals. Neutralization takes place such way that it pairs up an electron with the unpaired electron of a reactive chemical, while itself does not become reactive (that is, no new electron disparity occurs). Antioxidants are produced in the cell but there can be external sources, the we get mainly from plants. These include, for instance, vitamins A, C, or E, beta-carotene, lycopine or flavonoids. A balance shifted from antioxidants to reactive free radicals (this is known as oxidative stress) can lead to diseases, and also plays role in aging, however, it does not mean the more antioxidants we have, the healthier we are. An overbalance of antioxidants can also cause problems in our bodies because cells cannot break down foreign, toxic substances, and white blood cells also use free radicals for decomposing pathogens.
autoimmune: Medical term (adjective) referring to the process when our immune system works against our own body, generally by producing antibodies (auto- [Latin] meaning: self-). Under normal circumstances, the immune system is able to differentiate between own and foreign substances/cells, while also knowing if that substance or cell is harmful or not. Thus, it does not attack food or drugs (foreign), however, can also attack our own cells, if they are harmful to us (think about cancer cells). A lot of diseases have the root cause of this recognition mechanism starts to work improperly, alas science has not yet elucidated what might trigger the process. Examples include hereditary factors, genetic background (women are twice as more likely to have autoimmune diseases, and certain ethnic groups carry a heavier burden), but it has also been shown that diet in developed countries, infections or chemical can also play key role in starting the pathological process.
benzodiazepine: A group of psychoactive (that is affecting the mind) chemicals that are widely used as anxiolytic/sedative/hypnotic active substances in drugs despite the many side effects that have been discovered. The most problematic of all is addiction, and consequently withdrawal symptoms. There are several versions (e.g. alprazolam, midazolam, diazepam, clonazepam etc.) included in the benzodiazepine drug class with somewhat different effects. This is possible because they act on certain a receptor protein of brain cells that generally reduces cell activity but this protein consists of several subunits and the composition of the whole varies by brain regions, furthermore, different substances bind differently to these subunits. The most commonly known examples for drugs: Xanax, Frontin, Seduxen, Valium, Rivotril, Dormicum. These are effective anxiolytics and sedatives on short-term but on the long run (over 120 days), their usage is discouraged.
beta-carotene: A red-orange colored, hydrophobic chemical belonging to the carotene family that gives the color of carrots, melons, pumpkins and other plants of similar color. Its name comes from the Latin name of carrot (Daucus carota). It is the pro-vitamin of vitamin A which means that the liver converts it to the vitamin. It is safer to consume beta-carotene in large quantities, rather than vitamin A, because the latter can be toxic in high amounts as the liver needs 6 units of beta-carotene to make 1 unit of vitamin A. As a colorful chemical which usually contains double bonds, it also acts as an antioxidant, that is, it neutralizes reactive free radicals.
biopsy: A method of tissue sampling, when a doctor (usually a surgeon or interventional radiologist) cuts off a piece from the organ to be diagnosed, and sends to pathologist for a microscopic evaluation, who inspects the cells of the sample. It is carried out mostly in order to diagnose a tumor. Two major types of biopsies are excisional and incisional or core biopsy. The former means cutting out the whole suspected area, while in the latter case, only a part of it.
cancer: An umbrella term for all diseases where certain cells divide exceedingly, because their genetic material is so damaged, they lost reproduction control signals coming from the body. These cells eventually form a new lump of tissue (called tumor), and may also overproduce otherwise harmless substances (e.g. hormones), which become toxic in higher concentrations. If cells in a tumor migrate from their origin to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system, potentially creating a new tumor (this process is called metastasis), then it is referred to as a malignant tumor, which is cancer itself. If the primary tumor does not form metastases, then it is called a benign tumor, which is not the same as cancer. Basically all cell types can become cancerous, and are categorized by tissue types. The major types are: carcinoma, when the origin is epithelial tissue, including glandular tissue, in which case it is called adenocarcinoma. A sarcoma is when it is primarily coming from a connective or supportive tissue (bone, fat, joint), or from muscles or blood vessels. Leukemia is a cancer originated from a hematopoietic organ (where different blood cells are formed), such as the bone marrow, while lymphoma is the uncontrollable growth of immune cells. There are countless subtypes, typically ending with the “-oma" suffix.
Candida: A strain of budding yeasts found in the microbiota of human intestines, mouth, and vagina. The most common species is Candida albicans. If people are healthy, its growth is controlled by their immune systems and does not cause any problems. What’s more, the fungus protects the mucosal membranes from being colonized by other microbes. When its environment changes (e.g. weakened immune system), however, this control is lost and the fungus proliferates exceedingly causing candidiasis and that is why it is also called an opportunistic pathogen.
candidiasis: Overgrowth of Candida species in the body causing health issues. Two main types of candidiasis are mucocutaneous, which develops on the skin or mucous membranes (e.g. mouth, throat, vagina), and invasive type, which affects the whole body. Vaginitis / vaginal infection is usually caused by Candida, and can even develop in women with normal immune function. Diabetes and antibiotic therapy can also increase susceptibility to inflammation.
catheter: A tube with hard or flexible wall that is introduced into a body cavity in order to remove (e.g. Urinary catheter, drain tube) or administer (venous catheter, tracheal tube) substances (usually fluid or gaseous) into the body. There are countless versions and is used in almost all medical fields. Several novel medical devices are delivered into the body through catheters, e.g. stents during vascular surgery. Outer diameter is measured in units of French (F), 1 F = 0.33 mm. The name comes from the ancient Greek verb “kathiémi", meaning “to drain" or “to drop".
chemoprevention: Medical term which refers to elimination of cancerous lesions, or preventing malignant transformations in the narrow sense, but also means stopping or slowing the growth of already developed tumors in the broader sense. Generally, medication is used for this purpose but other means can also be used, such as herbal extracts, antioxidants, and vitamins in addition. According to some studies, the anti-inflammatory aspirin reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by inhibiting an enzyme named COX (cyclooxygenase).
chlamydia: Colloquial term for the infection caused by an intracellular parasitic bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is transmitted through unprotected sex, and is the most common among young people aged between 17-25 years. Its spreading is facilitated by the fact that three quarters of women and half of men are asymptomatic, and contract their sexual partners unknowingly. More common among women because the microenvironment is more favorable for the germs. Men’s symptoms include burning and painful urination, and yellowish discharge from the tip of the penis. The most common symptoms in women are abdominal pain due to the inflammation of cervix, abundant vaginal discharge, bright red bleeding after having sex, which is unrelated to period. Chlamydia infection can be confirmed with a sample from the cervix in women or from the urethra in men, and can be cured with safety by a few days of antibiotic therapy, if the germ is present. Although, untreated infection can spread from the cervix to the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries, which can even cause infertility later. In men, prolonged inflammation of testicles, epididymis and prostate can develop, that can often render sexual activities quite uncomfortable.
Clostridium difficile: Rod-shaped, spore-forming, obligate anaerobic (meaning, it dies on exposure to air) bacterium found nearly everywhere in the environment, and inside the guts of humans and animals as a small part of the healthy microbiome. Increasingly common in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), and can also overgrow in the GI tract due to overuse of antibiotics because its spore is extremely resistant, and many chemicals (including alcohol-based disinfectants) and antibiotics are ineffective against it. When the gut flora is decimated, it proliferates causing problems including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and in severe cases, pseudomembranous colitis.
cluster headache: The rarest of primary headaches, however, the most painful too, and occurs typically in clusters, hence the name. The clusters can last for weeks or months, but do not reappear in another months or even years. The pain appears behind or around one eye, and can radiate to other parts of the face. May be accompanied by redness and drooping of the affected eye, stuffy nose, and restlessness in contrast to migraine. The most common treatment is oxygen therapy, or subcutaneous injection / nasal spray of sumatriptan.
colonoscopy: Medical term for visual study of the colon. The word comes from the Ancient Greek words “kolon" (meaning large intestine) and “szkopein" (meaning to see). It is type of endoscopic (endon = inner [Ancient Greek]) procedure, that involves a thorough cleaning of your intestines, and then an approximately 160 cm long, optic fiber enhanced, flexible tube is introduced into your large intestine via the anus. With this procedure, practically the whole large intestine and the transition between small and large intestines can be visually studied. An endoscopy is not only used for visual observation of internal bleedings, stenoses, or tumors, but for sampling (biopsy), or full polypectomy too. The procedure is unpleasant, but it is still the most reliable examination method. Above the age of 50, it is advised to go for a colonoscopy every year, even without symptoms, for colorectal screening.
COPD: Abbreviation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The name refers to the fact that the disease does not appear suddenly but is persistent and worsens over time (chronic), and also comes with narrowing bronchiolar pathway (obstructive). The obstructive symptoms are caused by two major processes: the narrowing of bronchioli caused by inflammation, and the destruction of alveolar walls that end up merged together into larger air sacs. This latter reduces the surface of gas exchange and the elastic compliance of lungs, which altogether leads to emphysema. The most relevant risk factor is smoking but the smoke of burned wood and other biomass can be even more damaging. Can only be treated symptomatically with an aim of preventing further tissue damage as the damages are largely irreversible.
Crohn’s disease: A type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that shows variously serious symptoms including diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal cramps, reduced appetite or painful inflammation around the anus. The latter is caused by so-called fistulae (sing. fistula) which are in fact newly grown narrow channels branching from the rectum. Typical complications of Crohn’s disease include bowel obstruction because of intestinal wall thickening, ulcers caused by prolonged inflammation, or anal rupture. Unfortunately, there is no cure as of yet, but with symptomatic treatment and careful diet, one can live asymptomatically for a long time.
CT: Common non-invasive diagnostic imaging method, abbreviated from the term Computed Tomography, which refers to the process when the image is composed from several slices by a computer. The equipment uses X-rays, which pass through the body while each type of tissues absorb them (reducing their energies) to a different extent. The rays passed through this way then reach a detector, where X-ray sensitive crystals transform the rays of different energy levels into electric signals so that the computer can process them and display a black and white image. In many cases, a iodinated contrast agent is injected intravenously to increase image quality, however, it imposes a burden on the body, especially the kidneys.
dementia: Pathological condition due to nerve cell death or harm causing mental decline. Not a disease in itself, but an umbrella term for a group of symptoms. The symptoms typically include forgetfulness, impairment of cognitive, thinking and verbal functions. In some cases, even personality and behavior can change. The risk of this progressive disease increases with aging. More common in women, most likely due to longer life expectancy. Many diseases can cause this condition with the most typical being Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cerebrovascular issues.
diabetes: A medical term for the disease of high blood glucose level. The root causes are numerous but in every case, the core of the problem is that sugar absorbed the small intestines (that is transferred to the blood) cannot enter the cells (normally this is what insulin does), although, all of our cells can only cover their energy needs by decomposing glucose. There two main types: type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the latter of which is the most common but other rarer types are also known. Type 1 usually starts at young age and needs constant insulin supply because the pancreas cannot produce insulin. Having type 2 means that there is still some insulin production but it is insufficient, or cells do not respond to that (it is known as insulin resistance). Both of the types are affected by genetic background but environmental factors often trigger it as a consequence of unhealthy diet and inactive lifestyle. Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes if typically diagnosed late when the symptoms are evident: blurred vision, increased thirst, frequent urination, sleepiness, fatigue, nerve pain, etc.
DRE: Abbreviation of Digital Rectal Examination. This basically means that the urologist is feeling the prostate with his/her gloved and lubricated finger through the anus. This is a simple and rapid examination, and however unpleasant it may be, the doctor can gain valuable diagnostic information, for example, how big and hard the prostate is, or can lumps be felt on its surface. These pieces of information can indicate both benign prostate hypertrophy and malignant tumor. The screening is recommended above the age of 40 for men who are at high risk of cancer (e.g. a family history of multiple prostate cancers), but those who do not show symptoms are also advised to go to annual checks above 50.
drug tolerance: The process of becoming biologically less responsive to a certain dose of a regularly taken drug as a result of adaptation of the body. This is a natural reaction, as your body protects itself against the imbalance since most external effects usually throws it off balance, and it tries to return to equilibrium in order to stay alive. Thus, to achieve the same biological response, we need higher doses. Tolerance does not equal to addiction, because sooner or later, our bodies will adapt to any kind active substance but addiction starts when the brain’s reward system is (also) adapting to the external effect of the substance.
EEG: Electroencephalography, a non-invasive method to measure the brain’s electrical activity. The principle of operation is based on ion currents of nerve cells, which give rise to tiny voltage fluctuations that can be picked up by metals with high electric conductance. These voltages are then amplified with an electric amplifier to be visualized as explicable waveforms. These (pathological) brain waves can be used for drawing conclusions about brain function and diagnosis. In contrast to imaging techniques, where doctors look for structural deviations, this method can be used for detecting functional abnormalities, which are not accompanied by visually clear deformities, such as migraine with aura or epilepsy.
Escherichia coli: Usually referred to as E. coli, a non-spore-forming, aerobic/facultative anaerobic (meaning, it needs at least a little oxygen to grow) bacterium, which is the most important member of the gut flora, as it outgrows other germs with its quick reproduction, and produces vitamin K2, which is crucial for blood clotting. There are also harmful (virulent) strains, which can cause food poisoning, urinary tract infection and gastroenteritis. Also referred to as an indicator bacterium, as its presence in water or food (especially in vegetables and meat) clearly indicates contamination. Furthermore, it frequently appears in nosocomial (healthcare associated) infections.
five-year survival rate: A statistical index that shows the percentage of patient population who were still alive 5 years after disease diagnosis or the start of treatment. This is a key information for researchers to compare different therapies, and for doctors to establish prognosis. A crucial aspect of interpreting the index is that the calculation includes only patients who die of the given disease, and those who die of other reasons are excluded. Additionally, age and the stage of disease are also key factors. The index can be narrowed down to include only fully cured patients, or whose diseases did not worsen (so at least showed stagnation).
gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, generally accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Generally caused by rotavirus in children, and norovirus or Campylobacter jejuni (a bacterium) in adults. Doctors usually suspect an infectious gastroenteritis, when the patient has watery diarrhea at least 3 times a day or the stool is bloody, accompanied by fever, and abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting precedes stooling. Most of the times, the disease is acute, but can be chronic as well. Germs typically enter the body via contaminated water or food. Rehydration, anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medications are key treatments.
gastrointestinal: Medical term referring to the involvement of stomach and bowels (as an adjective), originating from the Latin words gastrum (stomach) and intestinum (bowel).
gestational diabetes: Medical term for diabetes during pregnancy. It usually develops in the second and the third trimester, often just a temporary condition and ends with childbirth, but it is crucial to diagnose in time because it is not only harmful to the mother, but can also cause complication around delivery (e.g. preterm birth, C-section, jaundice). It can be controlled well by regular blood sugar checks, proper diet or prenatal gymnastics but sometimes the doctor may also advise medications. In any case, mothers with gestational diabetes give birth to otherwise healthy babies, however, it is more likely that mothers develop type 2 diabetes later in their lives, so a checking blood sugar at least once in a few years is advised. The causes and symptoms are basically the same as in diabetes (see: diabetes).
ginkgo: Shorthand for Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree. Its leaf extract is the ingredient of many dietary supplements. It has two major component groups: flavonoids that are strong antioxidants, and terpenoids which are considered as vasodilators since they increase nitric-oxide levels in blood. Their remedial effects have been studied in plenty of diseases, although, in themselves, the beneficial effects they show are somewhat inconsistent but their usage as a supplement to conventional medication is definitely advantageous. According to some studies, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. These three properties are most likely the reason why ginkgo is considered to be so extraordinary since these processes are key factors in many diseases.
glucocorticoid inhaler: A type of respiratory medication used for treating mainly COPD or asthma. As a corticosteroid medicine, its main function is to reduce inflammation in lungs. The inhaled powder usually contains more than one active substance beside the steroid, such as bronchodilators to ease the symptoms of patient which are usually shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
glucose tolerance: Also known as Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). This test gives us information about how our handles glucose coming in by food intake, thus very useful in the diagnosis of prediabetes and diabetes. During the test, a blood sample is drawn on an empty stomach, then you need to drink 75 mg of sugar dissolved in water, than another blood sample is collected and at least once again after 120 minutes. Depending on the test, blood samples can be drawn in shorter periods (even at every 30 mins), thus blood glucose level can simply be determined as a function of time. If the blood glucose level does not exceed 7.8 mmol/L measured at 120 mins, the result is negative, that is our blood sugar regulation is normal. If, however, the result is between 7.8 and 11 mmol/L, it is called reduced glucose tolerance, i.e. prediabetes, and if above 11 mmol/L, that is considered diabetes.
glycemic control: Medical term for keeping blood sugar level in normal range, where “glycemia" refers to sugar in blood. Long-term blood sugar check is usually done by an HbA1C lab test (see: A1C) which should have a result of less than 8.0%, so it applies mainly to type 2 diabetes patients. The success of controlling (“keeping") blood sugar levels does not only depend on lifestyle changes (e.g. healthy diet, regular exercise), but also on properly taking the medicine your doctor prescribed to you.
glycemic index: A relative ranking in the range between 0 and 100 showing how a certain food affects blood glucose level. The index is relative to pure glucose that was chosen to have a glycemic index of 100 and is measured 2 hours after food intake. This means that in a healthy body, two hours after ingesting certain amount glucose, the blood sugar elevation compared to blood sugar on empty stomach = 100. Consuming high glycemic index foods cause a spike in blood glucose level, however, it falls back rapidly. Low glycemic index foods, on the other hand, induce a lower and more elongated wave of blood sugar elevation. Pre-diabetic and diabetic patients are well advised to eat low glycemic index foods because their bodies cannot keep up with the sharp increase of blood glucose level. Foods below the glycemic index of 55 are considered low, such as apples, oranges, or even strawberries, and also vegetables high in fiber e.g. carrots, beans, or peas. High glycemic index is above 70, most commonly potatoes, rice, and most types of bread.
gonorrhea: A sexually transmitted bacterial disease, also known as the clap. The infection is caused by a non-spore-forming bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is sensitive to environmental changes, so it can only spread via close contact of mucosal surfaces (and not through droplets). It is already mentioned in the Bible, and historically, there were legal efforts in Europe to stop its spreading. Men are more often symptomatic, which includes burning and painful urination, and purulent discharge from the tip of the penis (“bonjour drop"). Women often lack symptoms, however, the disease is still contagious and if left untreated, it can cause severe complications such as inflammation of cervix and Fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility. It was generally treated with large doses of penicillin in the past, but nowadays combined antibiotic therapy is used due to emerging drug resistance. Immunity does not develop, people can get re-infected with frequent changing of sexual partners.
herpes: Umbrella term for medical conditions caused mainly by two strains of viruses from the Herpesviridae family. Type 1 (Herpes simplex labialis) causes herpes on the lips or the oral cavity, while type 2 (Herpes simplex genitalis), which afflicts the genitals. Both generally appear as multiple blisters on the affected skin or mucosal surface, typically healing spontaneously. Nearly 100% of the population is infected from about 4 years of age, as it can persist inactive in nerve ganglions even for a lifetime after entering the body, and causing health issue when immune function is poor. Chicken pox in childhood is caused by Varicella zoster from the same virus family, and can cause shingles in adulthood, if reactivated.
HIV: Stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a special virus in that its genetic material isn’t DNA, but RNA, which is transcribed into DNA in the host cell by its own enzyme (called reverse transcriptase), and this is how it can replicate itself. Two major types are HIV-1 and HIV-2. The former is more virulent one being responsible for the global pandemic, while the latter is essentially found in (but not limited to) West Africa. However, it typically infects helper T-cells, which play key role in the induction of cellular immune response, it can also infect other white blood cells too. In time, it kills so many T-lymphocytes that the body would not be able to defend itself from germs.
HPV: Stands for Human Papillomavirus, covering a group of viruses that includes more than 130 described virus types. Papilloma refers to warts, which is the most typical symptom of HPV infection. Mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse, although, a small wound is enough for it to enter the body (e.g. from a razorblade). About half of the population gets infected at least once in a lifetime with the majority fighting off the viruses, however, a small percentage may be afflicted with a benign or malignant tumor on the genitals, around the rectum or in the region of head and neck. Vast majority of cervical cancer is caused by this virus, fortunately, there is a vaccine greatly reducing the risk.
IBD: Shorthand for Inflammatory Bowel Disease which is an umbrella term for multiple chronic diseases. The two most common such diseases are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These come with various abdominal symptoms the usually worsen over time. Autoimmune responses are also common direct causes for these symptoms, and although, the root cause of the disease is unknown, the genetic background is thought to play a role in the development, while also environmental factors are risk factors, such as smoking, or simply city life. The diagnosis is based on endoscopic procedures (colonoscopy), and blood or stool samples, occasionally aided by imaging tools (X-ray, CT, MRI).
IBS: Shorthand for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Syndrome means multiple symptoms occurring in parallel, the most typical of which are: abdominal distension and cramps, constipation, or diarrhea. The severity and duration of these varies by person but usually inflammation develops which means that our immune system is involved in such way that it triggers an inflammatory response to the substances in food, and unfortunately, it almost always ends up with loss of function. It is a common disease in the developed world, with more affected women than men, but it can be controlled well with simple symptomatic treatment and/or lifestyle change.
ionizing radiation: A radiation that is so powerful that it can push electrons of atoms out of their orbits, causing atoms to gain electric charge, that is, to become ions. Sources of radiation are typically radioactive atoms (radionuclides), which are unstable, that is, have extra energy that they want to emit into the environment, thus stabilizing themselves. Radiated energy is either in particle or wave form. If we’re talking about waves, a part of UV and higher frequency waves (roentgen or gamma-rays) are ionizing. The unit of radioactivity is becquerel (Bq), which equals to one decayed nucleus per second.
Lewy body dementia: A type of dementia caused by primary nerve cell death with symptoms very similar to Alzheimer’s disease, and with histological similarity to Parkinson’s disease. A pathological aggregate of proteins (mainly consisting of alpha-synuclein) accumulate in the nerve cells of the brain (these are the Lewy bodies), which kill the cells over time. Mental decline differs from Alzheimer’s disease in a way that these symptoms can fluctuate from day to day, or even from hour to hour, thus patience is key in caregiving, because the patient may seem to intentionally manipulate people, yet it’s just the course of disease. Slowness of movement can also be seen similarly to Parkinson’s disease, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Diagnosis can only be confirmed with a brain tissue sample because in this disease, Lewy bodies also appear in the cortex, while in Parkinson’s, they confine only to the midbrain.
Low-dose CT: An advanced version of conventional CT (computed tomography) that also uses X-rays to transilluminate body parts, although with much lower radiation dose. This is exactly why it is much more suitable for regular screening tests, when symptoms are not yet present, because radiation dose side effects are negligible and valuable information can still be gained about asymptomatic early stages of serious illnesses, such as lung cancer. As comparison, the average radiation dose of a conventional chest CT is 7 mSv, while an average low-dose CT radiation dose falls in the range of half to one-fifth of the former.
lycopine: A member of the carotenoid family that is a red colored, hydrophobic molecule, and gives tomato and other red fruits their color. Its name comes from the Latin name of tomato, Solanum lycopersicum. It contains 11 conjugated double bonds, whose electrons are bound loosely, thus making them easier to excite or be released. Due to electron donation, it has antioxidant properties, as it easily gives up one of its electrons in a double bond to reactive free radicals, while itself does not turn into a free radical either. Additionally, double bonds are also easy to excite with electromagnetic radiation, thus when they absorb a certain amount of energy, the remaining lower energy is emitted as longer wavelength light, hence its red color.
mammography: Common non-invasive diagnostic imaging method for early detection of breast cancer. It uses low doses of X-ray, usually in two directions, to create an image of the fat tissue and glands of female breasts, where even small tumors can also be detected early this way. Mammography as a screening is recommended biannually between 45 to 65 years of age. Digital mammography is one of the advanced versions which uses even lower doses of radiation, along with breast tomosynthesis which gives the highest resolution image in 3D. The latter has an operating principle similar to CT.
meningitis: Medical term for the inflammation of meninges (membranes covering the brain). Two major types are infectious and non-infectious meningitis. Infectious meningitis is more common, frequently caused by viruses with milder course of disease, as opposed to bacterial meningitis, which are more severe. Fungi and other parasites cause meningitis quite rarely. Bacterial meningitis can have serious complication (learning impairment, hearing loss), and can be accompanied by sepsis (when bacteria enter bloodstream and the body tries to fend them off excessively). The symptoms are similar to the flu, and they rarely occur at the same time. These typically include sudden high fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures and sensitivity to light. Non-infectious meningitis is usually a consequence of other diseases, such as brain tumor, brain trauma, or lupus.
migraine: Primary headache typically on one side of the head, coming in attacks and is characterized by throbbing pain, and often accompanied by nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound. Can be migraine with or without aura, with the former characterized by scintillating visual phenomena just before the migraine attack. The symptoms are caused by sudden constriction and dilation of blood vessels in the brain followed by inflammation. The root cause of the disease is unknown, however, genetic background and hormones seem to play key role. Three times more common in women. Can develop any time in life, although, usually starts in adolescence and stops at menopause.
MRI: Abbreviation of Magnetic Resonance imaging. Non-invasive diagnostic imaging method similar to CT, as it compiles an image (even in 3D) of the body from slices. A notable difference, however, is that it uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves instead of ionizing radiation, making it a safer procedure. The principle of operation is based on a strong (usually 1.5 or 3 tesla) magnetic field that aligns the hydrogen nuclei (i.e. protons) abundantly found in the body in one direction. This can be achieved because protons are spinning and creating a small magnetic charge with North and South poles, similar to our planet Earth. Then radiofrequency is introduced, which disrupts the protons and forces them to realign (making them take up excess energy), then the time needed for returning to resting state is measured. When protons return to resting state, they emit this excess energy in form of radio waves, which is detected by receiver coils, then the equipment converts it into electronic signals for a computer in order to display a grayscale image. Protons in different chemical environments need different amount of time to return to their resting states, and the faster the proton realigns, the brighter the image. MRI gives better quality images and more types of tissues (such as nerve and muscle tissues, or joints) can be observed than with a CT, albeit more expensive too. The diagnosis is based on the fact that abnormal tissues (e.g. a tumor or an inflamed organ) take up more water, and protons display a characteristic picture in them.
mucous membrane: All epithelial tissue is called mucous (or mucosal) membrane, which line the walls of internal organs, and is covered with thick fluid (mucus). Structurally similar to the skin, although, it is thinner and lack pigmented, keratinized epithelium, giving it a bright red color as blood vessels show through it. There is a transition between skin and mucous membranes around the body orifices, and other areas such as the respiratory tract, eye socket and glands are lined with mucosa too. Provides an essential line of defense to the body, as this is the first area that come into contact with germs and harmful substances except bloodborne pathogens, of course. Mucus is able to trap germs, so the immune system can get rid of them more easily, furthermore, it may contain antibodies at some areas (especially in glands). Additionally, it protects the epithelium from drying out, without it, the lining would be much more vulnerable.
neurology: It means the study of nerves. Medical field dealing with the anatomy (structure), function and abnormalities of the nervous system. It encompasses the observation and treatment of pathological processes in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), and in motor and sensory nerves (peripheral nervous system). Neurologists usually do not perform surgical procedures, their method of therapy is generally medication. Medical conditions not necessarily accompanied by organic abnormalities, such as neuroses (e.g. OCD, schizophrenia, depression etc.) are dealt with by psychiatrists instead, however, the two field could overlap to some extent.
neuropathy: The term refers to damage or diseased processes of nerves. The most common case is peripheral neuropathy, which means the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord are involved. The disease can affect one (mononeuropathy) or several nerves (polyneuropathy). The symptoms greatly depend on what type of nerve is affected. If sensory neurons are afflicted, mostly numbness, burning sensation or sharp pain if felt, however, if a motoneuron is involved, the innervated muscles weaken, or in serious cases, they can be paralyzed. There are also autonomic (involuntary) nerves connected to organs that render the corresponding organ dysfunctional, if affected by pathological processes. Several cause can trigger neuropathy, but the most frequent causes are diabetes, hypertension, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, or even chemotherapy or viral infections.
Non-invasive: A diagnostic or therapeutic procedure is non-invasive, if no device is introduced into the body, and the integrity of its surfaces remain intact. The term comes from the latin word “invasio", meaning: invasion, occupation etc. Invasive methods can be of several types, but are categorized mainly into three groups: i) when a device is introduced into the GI tract (e.g. colonoscopy or gastroscopy), or ii) into a blood vessel (e.g. blood drawing, or venous catheter), or iii) into other body cavities (e.g. Cystoscopy, external ventricular drain, or vaginal ultrasound). Doctors always have to consider if an invasive procedure is truly necessary, as it always comes with injuries and risks (risk assessment), and even before non-invasive methods, they have to be able to determine that if the method is carried out, do they get closer to the cheapest procedure (cost effectiveness).
nosocomial infection: An infection that is developed as a consequence of health care provision. A nosocomial infection can be local or generalized, caused by a pathogen or one of its product. If an infection is developed in more than 48 hours after admission, or within 3 days after discharge from hospital, or within 30 days after a surgery, or during a stay in a healthcare facility, then it is likely to be a nosocomial infection. Reporting healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is mandatory in Hungary. Germs most often include Clostridium difficile, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginusa, and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which are resistant to one or multiple antibiotics (meaning, not effective against them). The number of these infections is growing worldwide.
OCD: Stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. A neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by recurring thoughts that cause anxiety (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors or rituals (compulsions) that the patient feels urged to do in response to an obsessive thought and to reduce anxiety. Obsessions are often related to symmetry and cleanliness, and compulsions are mostly about hand washing, cleaning or even switching the lights. Confirmed diagnosis requires that these episodes last for at least an hour and cause significant anxiety. Patients often are ashamed of their condition and try to hide it, so they go to a doctor later than they should, despite admitting their urges are nonsense. Frequently accompanied by other disorders such as depression or anxiety. Fairly treatable with medications (SSRIs) now.
opioid: In the narrow sense, a group of painkiller substances, but in the broader sense, all natural, semi-synthetic, or synthetic chemical that act on opioid receptors. These are perfectly suitable for easing moderate to severe pain, however, they usually have serious side effects and lead to addiction, this is why they are prescription only medicines (e.g. Doreta, Tramadolor etc.), or specifically illegal drugs (e.g. heroin). The most typical side effects include itching, constipation and respiratory depression (this latter is the direct cause of death in overdose). Although, “side effects" are not always harmful, since there are some drugs that specifically exploit these effects, for example Imodium can be used against diarrhea, or Robitussin for cough suppression. Addiction develops very rapidly, so the drug your doctor prescribed to you is ill-advised to be taken for longer periods. The stronger derivatives are usually given to end-stage cancer patients.
PET: Stands for Positron Emission Tomography, a non-invasive diagnostic imaging method. The name refers to the positrons (antiparticles of electrons) emitted from a radioactive tracer, which is administered orally, intravenously, or inhaled, are detected in different planes by the equipment. These planes are cross sections of the human body, which are aligned by a computer (tomography), creating a 3D image in a similar way to CT and MRI. Tracers are most of the times radioactive isotopes bound to sugar molecules. Its diagnostic value comes from the predictions made from cell or tissue activity (based on blood flow or sugar consumption), since the spatial distribution of tracers in pathological tissues differs from healthy ones. Although, it provides poorer image quality than CT or MRI in terms of anatomy, diseases disrupt cellular functions first and only then the tissue structures (anatomies), this makes the procedure very useful in early diagnosis. Also, it can be used in combination with CT or MRI today, which makes this method a cutting-edge (and the most expensive) medical diagnostic tool.
PET-CT: Combination of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT), which is the most cutting-edge medical diagnostic tool today. The greatest advantage of this method is that it gives a more comprehensive picture of the region of interest, as PET provides valuable information on tissue functioning (their biochemical processes), but lack the anatomical precision of lesions, so it is enhanced by the CT part of the procedure. Although, the tool utilizes ionizing radiation, this is quite weak (about 11 mSv), and no long term harm has been reported yet. Nevertheless, the usage of this tool is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation, since radioactive particles pass through the placenta and also enter breast milk.
pneumonia: Infectious inflammation of the air sacs of the lungs, with the severity ranging from mild to life-threatening. The word comes from medical Latin. Many germs can cause pneumonia, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Can cause serious conditions in infants and the elderly due to poorer immune function. Typical symptoms include, but not limited to, dry coughing or coughs with purulent, thick, colored phlegm, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and high fever. With the spreading of antibiotics, lethal outcomes are greatly reduced, although, it takes many lives in developing countries. Diagnosis is usually established by physical examination, chest X-ray, and bloodwork. The treatment depends on the severity of the condition, most often using antibiotics, as bacterial infection is the most common cause, but viruses can also develop pneumonia, and antiviral drugs may be necessary.
polyneuropathy: A type of neuropathy where multiple nerves are involved in the disease process (see: neuropathy). Can be of acute or chronic course. Acute polyneuropathy has a short course triggered by an autoimmune reaction or infection, but it can usually be treated well. Chronic form, however, persists for a long time and it is much harder to reveal its cause. It is often a symptom of another medical condition (e.g. diabetes or kidney failure), not a disease in itself. Similarly to neuropathy, it is characterized by numbness, sharp pain, muscle weakness etc.
prediabetes: A state preceding type 2 diabetes, that means blood glucose level is higher than normal, but the doctor cannot say unambiguously that it is diabetes. The background causes are the same as for diabetes, but the good news is that the process is not irreversible. With regular exercise, losing weight, especially reducing waist size, or quitting smoking greatly increases our chances to avoid type 2 diabetes (which, on the other hand, is incurable). Of course, there are causes outside our control, for example family history, aging, or even gestational diabetes increases the risks of developing prediabetes.
prostate gland: Also known as simply the prostate. A walnut-sized gland surrounding the urethra directly below the bladder. As every gland, it produces a secretion (this makes up 1/3 of semen volume) that activate sperm cells by enzymes. Semen also contains secretions from two other glands, that is produced and emptied into the urethra at orgasm, as its function is to neutralize the acidic environment in the vagina and to nourish sperm cells. The prostate’s most common diseases are inflammation (prostatitis), benign prostate hypertrophy, and prostate cancer. Inflammation is generally treated well with antibiotics. Prostate hypertrophy is a benign overgrowth that can be treated with medications or surgery, and affects almost all men above the age of 50. Prostate cancer is the most frequent type of cancer among men, although, only 1 in 41 men dies of it. This latter is treated variously, usually with surgery, and hormone, radiation, or chemotherapy, or the combination thereof.
PSA: Stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. It is an enzyme produced by the prostate that is emptied into the semen upon ejaculation, liquifying it to make it easier for sperms to swim. In the past, its elevated level in blood was considered as evidence for prostate cancer, but now we know that non-malignant processes (e.g. prostatitis, benign prostate hypertrophy, or even just an ejaculation) also increase the level of this enzyme in blood, so one should be careful not to jump to conclusions, if the enzyme level rises above 4.0 ng/mL (it was the threshold indicating prostate cancer in the past). Including PSA in the blood work is routine part of cancer screening, but nowadays, it is not always recommended because of the controversial research data.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa: A non-spore-forming, but biofilm-forming bacterium, that is common almost everywhere in the environment, and infects both plants and animals (including humans). Also found in the normal gut flora, however, it is an opportunistic pathogen, so does not cause any issues in a healthy body, but can be lethal in immunocompromised individuals. It may cause serious nosocomial infections in hospitals, and multidrug resistant (i.e. immune to multiple antibiotics) strains are especially dangerous, with biofilm production that adds to its protection against the immune system. The genetic variability it shows makes it easier to develop resistance to antibiotics. It can colonize drinking waters, food, object surfaces or even distilled water due to its minimal need for nutrients. In the human body, the bacterium can grow in tissues like skin, GI tract, urinary tract, central nervous system, heart or other regions.
radiation sickness: Also known as acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning. A high dose (at least 0.7 gray) of external high-energy radiation is needed in a short period of time (usually in a matter of minutes) for the body to develop acute radiation syndrome. Most of the times, the most susceptible tissue are injured, such as the bone marrow, lymphatic system, intestinal epithelium, sex cells, or the dividing layer of skin. Generally, tissues with higher cell division activity are more susceptible to radiation, and this is what radiation therapy is based on because the most typical characteristic of cancer cells is that they divide frequently.
radiology: In a clinical sense, mostly covers the medical field dealing with diagnostic imaging techniques. The name comes from the Latin word “radius", meaning ray, or beam, because it was brought into existence by the medical utilization of X-rays. The main task of a radiologist is interpreting diagnostic imaging reports, while the image acquisition is usually done by radiology technicians (X-ray techs). The field typically includes tools using X-ray or other ionizing radiation (e.g. CT, PET, DEXA), and also other types of waveforms, such as ultrasound (sound waves), or MRI (radiofrequency waves). The spread of radiology enabled many diagnoses to be made without the need of disrupting body integrity (that is, non-invasive).
reactive free radical: A highly unstable molecule with one or more unpaired electrons. The name, on one hand, means that these molecules induce chemical reactions, on the other hand, they are released from larger molecules (in fact, they break off). They are produced naturally in our cells through metabolism, which comes with advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantageous effect is that they oxidize other molecules, thus the cell’s normal proteins, DNA, and lipids too, which can in turn become faulty. In the recent decades, studies have found that it plays a role in plenty of chronic diseases, and that carcinogenic substances increase reactive free radical production. Our cells defend themselves against it with antioxidants, which should be in constant balance with free radicals, and if this balance is lost, that is called oxidative stress. They are present in healthy cells too, because these molecules are normally used by cells to decompose pathogens, or foreign substances.
resection: A common type of surgical procedure when an organ, or a part of it, is being excised from the body. In Latin it means: “cut off, cut loose, remove". It is often needed in cancer patients when the surgeon attempts to excise the whole tumor, or in some cases, the whole organ with it. Another subtype is segmental resection when only a smaller segment is removed.
RNA therapy: A method of treatment that specifically modifies cellular gene functioning. It is called RNA therapy because gene expression is regulated in the cell directly through RNA production usually by short interfering RNA sequences. As the first phase of gene expression is when a segment of DNA is transcribed into RNA (so-called messenger RNA, or mRNA), and then this piece of RNA serves as a blueprint for producing a target protein (this is the gene product which eventually influence cellular function), this is why we can efficiently intercept the process by breaking down mRNA. The degradation of mRNA produced inside the cell is carried out by pairing them up with the short RNA sequences, that will be a signal for the cell to cleave and break down the whole molecule. This process is present in all of our cells because, according to researchers, this is an ancient defense mechanism against viruses and other genetic parasites. The technology of the therapy is not yet mature, but it is very promising. At the moment, the greatest problem scientists face is figuring out how to make the interfering RNA enter the specific cells. Based on the latest studies, the most efficient way seems to be via nanoparticles or attenuated viruses, by which even hereditary diseases can be cured.
roentgen: Outdated unit for measuring exposure to X-ray or gamma radiation. Today, it is replaced by gray or sievert. Named after the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, who discovered X-rays. X-rays are all electromagnetic waves that are in 10 nanometer and 10 picometer wavelength range in the full electromagnetic spectrum. When measured as particles, they fall into the 124 eV and 124 keV range of photon energy. This is much higher energy than the photons of visible light, or even UV, and has an ionizing effect. Medicine has used this radiation in low doses for diagnostic imaging for more than a hundred years, as it passes through the human body while being absorbed to different extents by different types of tissues, then reaches an X-ray film or detector, where it creates an image corresponding to tissue shape.
sievert: SI unit derived from gray that measures the dose of ionizing radiation absorbed by biological substances (equivalent dose). 1 sievert (Sv) equals to 1 gray (Gy) times a weight factor (W). 1 gray is 1 joule of energy absorbed by 1 kilogram of matter (J/kg). In physics terms, gray is used to measure the dose absorbed by any kind of matter, if, however, the dose is absorbed by biological matter (e.g. tissues), sievert is used instead. The weight factor depends on the type of radiation and the type of absorbing tissue. For example, the weight factor of X-rays is 1, but alpha radiation from radioactive decay has a factor of 20. Different tissues like skin has a weight factor of 0.01, breast has 0.05, and the genitals have 0.2. On average, people are exposed to 2-3 millisievert (mSv) of radiation annually (one sievert equals to one thousand millisievert). 100 mSv per year is the threshold above of which there is plausible association between radiation dose and cancer risk increase. The most common healthcare services using ionizing radiation has an equivalent dose between 0 and 15 mSv.
SSRI: Stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, which refers to a group of antidepressant medications. Patient with depression usually has low levels of brain hormones called serotonin in their nerve cell junctions (synapses), where this molecule should do its job of improving mood, stabilizing emotions and promoting sleep. This hormone is released from neuron endings and migrate to the other end of the next nerve cell, where it binds to cell surface proteins and exert their effect, then the cell reuptakes the molecule. The drug inhibits this reuptake leaving more hormones where it should do their job. It is generally prescribed for chronic and severe depression, though, it can be useful for other psychiatric disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, panic disorder or bulimia. What’s important about antidepressants is that they need to be taken regularly for weeks or even months in order to start feeling better, because our bodies ensure that no foreign substance enters the brain tissue, after all, this is the goal of the blood-brain barrier. Unfortunately, side effects present themselves earlier, and that is why many patient stops taking the medication before it could exert its beneficial effects.
Staphylococcus aureus: Round-shaped, non-spore-forming facultative anaerobic (i.e. can live without oxygen) bacterium, which live on skin and nasal mucous membranes of about 30% of the population, without causing any health issues. However, as an opportunistic pathogen when immune function is poor, or from an untreated wound, it can enter the blood stream and overgrow causing serious infections. S. aureus infection can easily emerge in a hospital setting, causing bacteremia and sepsis (when bacteria enter the blood circulation), pneumonia, endocarditis (heart valve inflammation), or might even spread to the bones (e.g. fractures). Additionally, it might cause less severe symptoms on the skin or in the respiratory tract, such as abscess, boil or sinusitis. An especially dangerous and emerging strain is the methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which is immune to standard antibiotic therapy.
STD: Stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. Basically covers all infections contracted via sexual intercourse. Many pathogens can be responsible from viruses (HPC, HIV, herpes) to bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum), or even fungi (Candida albicans), or protozoa (Trichomonas vaginalis) can infect people through sexual contact. Although, they spread through sexual activities most typically, people can get infected without having sex as well, for example when HIV-infected blood gets into the bloodstream (e.g. from a needle), or an infected mother can contract her baby at childbirth. Because this is an awkward health issue, many people tries to get rid of it at home, curing themselves in secret, and unfortunately, they see a doctor only when the symptoms are much worse. The fact that many people are asymptomatic also facilitates the spreading of STDs, as they can still contract others.
stoma: A surgically opened orifice on the abdominal wall, through which a segment of the bowels or bladder is brought to the surface. In the literal sense, it means “mouth" in Ancient Greek. It is often a life-saving procedure for a medical condition where the body cannot get rid of metabolic wastes (from either the bowels or the bladder). Depending on the condition, channeling to the surface starts from the middle or end of the small intestine (jejunum or ileum), and it is called jejunostomy or ileostomy, respectively, or can start from the large intestine (colostomy), or from the bladder (urostomy). After such surgeries, people can live a life really close to normal, and the patient is provided a medical grade stoma bag that serves the purpose of temporary waste storage.
syphilis: Sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, also known as “French disease", although, every nation connotates the disease with other nations. According to the classical hypothesis, Colombus brought it into Europe, but recent study evidence (from Hungarian researchers) suggest that it was already there. The symptoms are similar to other diseases, so it was difficult to diagnose in the past, but today a routine bloodwork or microscopic evaluation is enough for confirmation. Syphilis develops in three stages, with long latent stages in between. Primary syphilis presents itself at the spot where the bacteria entered your body (usually at the genitals, anus, or mouth) as a small sore, called a chancre, then the germ spreads further to other body parts through the circulation, and secondary syphilis develops after a few weeks, when rashes start cover the entire body. Eventually in the third stage, tertiary syphilis develops as complications in the nervous system, or cardiovascular system, which may occur even years after the original infection. The germ passes through the placenta infecting the baby as well. Can be treated well with penicillin, or with other antibiotics in case of drug allergy.
tension-type headache: The most common primary headache (meaning, it is a disorder in itself, not a consequence of other conditions) accompanied by mild to moderate diffuse pain, with patients reporting a feeling of a band around the head. Scalp, neck and shoulder muscles usually become tense, hence the name (the Latin word “tensio" means tension or pressure). Usually not as severe as to disturb normal daily activities. The root cause of this episodically occurring headache is most often said to be stress, however, there is no reassuring evidence. Generally treatable with over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Algopyrin, Cataflam, or Algoflex) combined with resting. Caffeine intake improves drug efficiency.
tic: habitual, unintended, nonrhythmic spasmodic motion (motor tic), or similarly produced sounds (phonic or vocal tic), which can even be obscene phrases in special cases. Tics can appear in forms of simple, brief, meaningless motions (blinking, coughing), or complex, longer movements, however, not to be confused with OCD compulsions. Usually develops in childhood and disappears with adulthood most of the times. Tics may increase as a result of restlessness, anger, or excitement, while reduce during focused attention or resting. Important life events, such as starting school can provoke tics. May be accompanied by ADHD, or OCD, and its most severe form is Tourette’s syndrome.
Tourette’s syndrome: Neurological condition developing before 18 years of age, with the diagnostic criteria of having multiple motor toc and at least one vocal tic for at least a year. Almost always comes with lack of impulse control (impulsivity). Aggression rarely occurs, and severe cases are even less common. OCD, hyperactivity and learning difficulties often accompanies the disorder, however, note that they are separate conditions. The most ominous symptom is involuntary cursing (coprolalia), however, this occurs only in 10% of Tourette’s syndrome patients.
trichomonas: The full name is Trichomonas vaginalis (a.k.a trich), a flagellate eukaryotic protozoan parasite, which typically, but not exclusively transmitted via sexual intercourse causing trichomoniasis. Can survive for hours in wet environments, thus people can also get infected by a towel or a sponge. If symptomatic, the disease is can be easily treated, although, when asymptomatic and consequently left untreated, it can cause chronic problems (e.g. ovaritis), or may seriously affect fertility and pregnancy. Women show symptoms more often, which usually include vaginal discharge, burning pain in urination, abdominal pain, tenderness of genitals etc. Diagnosis can be established by microscopic assessment of a vaginal swab sample. The therapy is generally antibiotics.
tumor marker: The name is quite self-explanatory, it indicates tumor presence. It is usually a protein that is detected in a body fluid (blood, urine, stool, or other secretions), and if its level is elevated, that indicates the presence of a malignant tumor somewhere in the body. Healthy cells are also producing them, but cancer cells produce much more. As levels can be elevated even without tumors, furthermore, malignant tumors not always induce pathological elevation of a tumor marker, it is not enough to diagnose cancer in itself. Generally, a biopsy or a medical imaging study is also needed to confirm accurate diagnosis. If, however, the tumor marker level was determined before the diagnosis of cancer, then the medical condition can be monitored with it. A few examples of tumor markers: CA15-3 – breast cancer, CEA – digestive tract tumors, PSA – prostate cancer, Septin 9 – colorectal cancer.
urologist: A medical specialist dealing with problems of the excretory system, including kidneys, adrenal glands, the bladder, and in case of men, the genitals too. The tasks of a urologist involve physical examinations, various routine tests, and giving diagnosis based on the results. They can use medical or by surgical therapies. A urologist not always treats only men, but this is most often the case.
vascular dementia: The second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer-related dementia. The name refers to the involvement of blood vessels (Latin “vasculum", meaning: little pot or vessel). Generally caused by lack of oxygen in the brain due to poor blood flow, which lead to nerve cell death. A stroke or other condition that impairs blood circulation can trigger the disease, for example, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, or smoking. The symptoms may resemble Alzheimer’s (memory loss, cognitive/planning difficulties, agitation, communication difficulties), but in this case, the onset is sudden and the course of disease is fluctuating. There is no direct therapy, usually the treatment of the primary vascular condition is preferred.