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Medical Glossary



A1C - A test that sums up how much glucose has been sticking to part of the hemoglobin during the past 3–4 months. Hemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that supplies oxygen to the cells of the body.
ACE inhibitor - A type of drug used to lower blood pressure. Studies indicate that it may also help prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease in people with diabetes. ACE is an acronym for angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Autoimmune process - A process where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys body tissue that it mistakes for foreign matter.
Acupuncture (AK-yoo-PUNK-cher): The technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Adipose tissue (add-ih-POS-e) Fat tissue in the body.
Adjuvant (AD-joo-vant) chemotherapy: Chemotherapy used to kill cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy.
Alcoholism is a disease with four main features:

• Craving - a strong need to drink


• Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun


• Physical dependence withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking


• Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get high

Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body's immune system. Allergic reactions to food can sometimes cause serious illness and death. Tree nuts and peanuts are the leading causes of deadly allergic reactions called anaphylaxis.
Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shuh): The lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair is usually found. Alopecia can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities.
If you have anemia, your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives the red color to blood. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death.
Angina is chest pain or discomfort you get when your heart muscle does not get enough blood. It may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. It may feel like indigestion. You may also feel pain in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back.
Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common heart disease. CAD happens when a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, reducing blood flow.
Antiemetic (AN-tee-eh-MEH-tik): A drug that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting. Also called antinausea.
Antinausea: A drug that prevents or controls nausea and vomiting. Also called antiemetic.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. Once it starts, there is no effective medical therapy, so appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. When treated promptly, most patients recover without difficulty. If treatment is delayed, the appendix can burst, causing infection and even death. Appendicitis is the most common acute surgical emergency of the abdomen. Anyone can get appendicitis, but it occurs most often between the ages of 10 and 30.
Arthritis If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your eyes or skin.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks liver cells. This causes the liver to become inflamed (hepatitis). Researchers think a genetic factor may predispose some people to autoimmune diseases. About 70 percent of those with autoimmune hepatitis are women, most between the ages of 15 and 40.


Bacteria & Foodborne illnesses are caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Harmful chemicals can also cause foodborne illnesses if they have contaminated food during harvesting or processing. Foodborne illnesses can cause symptoms that range from an upset stomach to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.
Bariatric surgery (bear-ee-AT-ric) Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help the patient with extreme obesity lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. Surgery may also be an option for people with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Beta Cells - Cells that make insulin. Beta cells are found in areas of the pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans.
Bleeding in the digestive tract is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Bleeding can occur as the result of a number of different conditions, some of which are life threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. The cause of bleeding may not be serious, but locating the source of bleeding is important.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) (im-PEE-dance) A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent.
Biological therapy (by-oh-LAH-jih-kul THAYR-uh-pee): Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Also used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.
Bile is a liquid that helps the body digest fats. Bile is made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder until the body needs it.
Bladder - A hollow organ that urine drains into from the kidneys. From the bladder, urine leaves the body.
Blood Cell Count: The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood. This is also called a complete blood count (CBC).
Blood Glucose - The main sugar that the body makes from the food we eat. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to all of the body’s living cells. The cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.
Blood Pressure - The force of the blood against the artery walls. Two levels of blood pressure are measured:
the highest, or systolic, occurs when the heart pumps blood into the blood vessels, and the lowest, or diastolic, occurs when the heart rests.
Body mass index (BMI) A measure of body weight relative to height. BMI can be used to determine if people are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. To figure out BMI, use the following formula:
Bone marrow: The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
BMI for INDIANS: Normal:18.5-23 Overweight:23-27 Obese: > than 27
All other ethnic groups: A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, a BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.


Caffeine is a bitter substance found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, some nuts and certain medicines. It has many effects on the body's metabolism, including stimulating the central nervous system. This can make you more alert and give you a boost of energy.
Calcium You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. Your body needs calcium to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system.
Foods rich in calcium include diary products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and leafy, green vegetables.
Calluses - Thick, hardened areas of the skin, generally on the foot, caused by friction or pressure. Calluses can lead to other problems, including serious infection and even gangrene.
Calorie (CAL-or-ee) A unit of energy in food. Foods have carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Some beverages have alcohol. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Proteins have 4 calories per gram. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
Cancer begins in your cells. Normally, your body forms new cells as you need them, replacing old cells that die. Sometimes this process goes wrong. New cells grow even when you don't need them, and old cells don't die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass called a tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer while malignant ones are. Cells from malignant tumors can invade nearby tissues. They can also break away and spread to other parts of the body.
Cancer clinical trials: Type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called a clinical study or research study.
The esophagus is a hollow tube that carries food and liquids from your throat to your stomach. Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include painful or difficult swallowing, weight loss and coughing up blood.
Gastric/ Stomach cancer mostly affects older people two-thirds of people who have it are over age 65.
Carbohydrate (kar-bow-HIGH-drate) A major source of energy in the diet. There are two kinds of carbohydrates @ simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars and complex carbohydrates include both starches and fiber. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. They are found naturally in foods such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and milk and dairy products. Foods such as sugar cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy are very rich in sugars.
Catheter (KATH-i-ter): A flexible tube through which fluids enter or leave the body.
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins.
Chemotherapy (kee-moh-THAYR-uh-pee): Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.
Cholesterol (ko-LES-te-rol) A fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Foods high in cholesterol include liver and organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy fats. Cholesterol is carried in the blood. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up causing the blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to decrease. The cholesterol in food, like saturated fat, tends to raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. Levels between 200-239 mg/dl are considered borderline high. Levels under 200 mg/dl are considered desirable.
In Cirrhosis of the liver, scar tissue replaces normal, healthy tissue, blocking the flow of blood through the organ and preventing it from working as it should. Cirrhosis is the twelfth leading cause of death by disease, killing about 26,000 people each year. Also, the cost of cirrhosis in terms of human suffering, hospital costs, and lost productivity is high.
The colon, or large bowel, is the last portion of your digestive tract, or gastrointestinal tract. The colon is a hollow tube that starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus. The colon is about 5 feet long, and its main function is to store unabsorbed food waste and absorb water and other body fluids before the waste is eliminated as stool.
A colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss
Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement fewer than three times per week. With constipation stools are usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Some people who are constipated find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel.
Corns - A thickening of the skin of the feet or hands, usually caused by pressure against the skin.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. As the buildup grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage.
Crohns disease is an ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, also referred to as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohns disease can affect any area of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum. The swelling extends deep into the lining of the affected organ. The swelling can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.


Dengue is an infectious disease caused by a virus. You can get it if an infected mosquito bites you. It is common in warm, wet areas of the world. Outbreaks occur in the rainy season.
Symptoms include a high fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain, vomiting and a rash. Most people with dengue recover within 2 weeks.
Biabetes - The short name for the disease called diabetes mellitus. Diabetes results when the body cannot use blood glucose as energy because of having too little insulin or being unable to use insulin. See also type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes Pills - Pills or capsules that are taken by mouth to help lower the blood glucose level. These pills may work for people whose bodies are still making insulin.
Diabetic Eye Disease - A disease of the small blood vessels of the retina of the eye in people with diabetes. In this disease, the vessels swell and leak liquid into the retina, blurring the vision and sometimes leading to blindness.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis - High blood glucose with the presence of ketones in the urine and bloodstream, often caused by taking too little insulin or during illness.
Diabetic Kidney Disease - Damage to the cells or blood vessels of the kidney.
Diabetic Nerve Damage - Damage to the nerves of a person with diabetes. Nerve damage may affect the feet and hands, as well as major organs.
Diabetes Mellitus (dye-uh-BEE-teez) A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Dialysis When your kidneys are healthy, they clean your blood. They also make hormones that keep your bones strong and your blood healthy. When your kidneys fail, you need treatment to replace the work your kidneys used to do. Unless you have a kidney transplant, you will need a treatment called dialysis.
There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools. A person with diarrhea typically passes stool more than three times a day. People with diarrhea may pass more than a quart of stool a day. Acute diarrhea is a common problem that usually lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own without special treatment. Prolonged diarrhea persisting for more than 2 days may be a sign of a more serious problem and poses the risk of dehydration. Chronic diarrhea may be a feature of a chronic disease.
Fiber is a substance in plants. Dietary fiber is the kind you eat. It is in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is the part of the plant that your body can't digest. Yet it is an important part of a healthy diet. It adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster, helping you control your weight. Fiber helps digestion and helps prevent constipation.
Diphtheria - An acute, contagious disease that causes fever and problems for the heart and nervous system.
Discretionary calories You need a certain number of calories to keep your body functioning and provide energy for physical activities. These can be divided into essentials and extras. Each person has an allowance for some discretionary calories. But, many people have used up this allowance before lunch-time! Most discretionary calorie allowances are very small, between 100 and 300 calories, especially for those who are not physically active.
Diet What a person eats and drinks. Any type of eating plan.
Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis Many people have small pouches in their colons that bulge outward through weak spots, like an inner tube that pokes through weak places in a tire. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Pouches (plural) are called diverticula. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis.
Dry heaves: When your body tries to vomit even though your stomach is empty.



Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They include


• Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don't eat enough because you think you are fat


• Bulimia nervosa, involving periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives


• Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating

E. coli is the name of a type of bacteria that lives in your intestines. Most types of E. coli are harmless. However, some types can make you sick and cause diarrhea.
Upper Endoscopy enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain, or chest pain. Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy
EKG - A test that measures the heart’s action. Also called an electrocardiogram.
Energy expenditure The amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breath, circulate blood, digest food, and be physically active.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) enables the physician to diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.


Fat A major source of energy in the diet. All food fats have 9 calories per gram. Fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Some kinds of fats, especially saturated fats, [see definition] may cause blood cholesterol to increase and increase the risk for heart disease. Other fats, such as unsaturated fats [see definition] do not increase blood cholesterol. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.
Fatigue: A problem of extreme tiredness and inability to function due lack of energy.
Flatulence/ Gas Everyone has gas and eliminates it by burping or passing it through the rectum. However, many people think they have too much gas when they really have normal amounts. Most people produce about 1 to 4 pints a day and pass gas about 14 times a day.
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
Flu - An infection caused by the “flu” (short for “influenza”) virus. The flu is a contagious viral illness that strikes quickly and severely. Signs include high fever, chills, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, and headache.
Food Exchanges - A way to help people stay on special food plans by letting them replace items from one food group with items from another group.


Gallstones are small, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac located below your liver in the right upper abdomen. Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. The liquid called bile helps the body digest fats. Bile is made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder until the body needs it. The gallbladder contracts and pushes the bile into a tube called the common bile duct that carries it to the small intestine, where it helps with digestion.
Gastrointestinal surgery (to treat obesity) See bariatric surgery.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which is common. GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens spontaneously, for varying periods of time, or does not close properly and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. GER is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation, because digestive juices called acids rise up with the food. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach.
Gestational diabetes (jest-AY-shun-ul) (dye-ah-BEE-teez) A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. Women who develop gestational diabetes, however, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gingivitis - A swelling and soreness of the gums that, without treatment, can cause serious gum problems and disease.
Glucagon - A hormone that raises the blood glucose level. When someone with diabetes has a very low blood glucose level, a glucagon injection can help raise the blood glucose quickly.
Glucose (GLU-kos) A building block for most carbohydrates. Digestion causes carbohydrates to break down into glucose. After digestion, glucose is carried in the blood and goes to body cells where it is used for energy or stored.
Grains Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
Grains are divided into 2 subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.


Hormone: A chemical made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs.
HDL See high-density lipoprotein.
Healthy cells: Noncancerous cells that function the way they should.
Healthy weight Compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or others. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, though not all individuals with a BMI in this range may be at a healthy level of body fat; they may have more body fat tissue and less muscle. A BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.
BMI for INDIANS: Normal:18.5-23 Overweight:23-27 Obese: > than 27.
Heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart. A blockage that is not treated within a few hours causes the affected heart muscle to die.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood throughout the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should.
The term Hemorrhoids refers to a condition in which the veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed.


Hepatitis A, B, Care liver diseases. Hepatitis (HEP-ah-TY-tis) makes your liver swell and stops it from working right.
The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease. It accounts for about 15 percent of acute viral hepatitis, 60 to 70 percent of chronic hepatitis, and up to 50 percent of cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer.
High Blood Glucose - A condition that occurs in people with diabetes when their blood glucose levels are too high. Symptoms include having to urinate often, being very thirsty, and losing weight.
High blood pressure Another word for hypertension. Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. An optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. When blood pressure stays high, greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg, then it is considered high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen) A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called good cholesterol. High HDL lowers the risk of heart disease. An HDL of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. Researchers believe that H. pylori is responsible for the majority of peptic ulcers.
Hormone - A chemical that special cells in the body release to help other cells work. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas to help the body use glucose as energy.
Hydrogenation A chemical way to turn liquid fat (oil) into solid fat. This process creates a new fat called trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are found in margarine, shortening, and some commercial baked foods like cookies, crackers, muffins, and cereals. Eating a large amount of trans fatty acids may raise heart disease risk.


Impotence: Not being able to get or keep an erection.
Incontinence: Not able to control the flow of urine from the bladder.
Immunization - Sometimes called vaccination; a shot or injection that protects a person from getting an illness by making the person "immune" to it.
Impotence - A condition where the penis does not become or stay hard enough for sex. Some men who have had diabetes a long time become impotent if their nerves or blood vessels have become damaged.
Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or dyspepsia, is discomfort or a burning feeling in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by nausea, abdominal bloating, belching, and sometimes vomiting. Some people also use the term indigestion to describe the symptom of heartburn.
Indigestion might be caused by a disease in the digestive tract such as ulcer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but for many people, it results from eating too much, eating too quickly, eating high-fat foods, or eating during stressful situations. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, using medications that irritate the stomach lining, being tired, and having ongoing stress can also cause indigestion or make it worse.
Infertility: For women, it means that you may not be able to get pregnant. For men, it means that you may not be able to get a woman pregnant.
Inject - To force a liquid into the body with a needle and syringe.
Injection: Using a syringe and needle to push fluids or drugs into the body; often called a "shot."
Insulin A hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Insulin controls blood sugar levels.
Intra-arterial (IN-truh-ar-TEER-ee-ul): Within an artery. Also called IA.
Intraperitoneal (IN-truh-PAYR-ih-toh-NEE-ul): Within the peritoneal cavity. Also called IP.
Intravenous (in-tra-VEE-nus): Within a blood vessel. Also called IV.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications. For some people, however, IBS can be disabling. They may be unable to work, attend social events, or even travel short distances.
Ketones - Chemical substances that the body makes when it doesn’t have enough insulin in the blood. When ketones build up in the body for a long time, serious illness or coma can result.
Kidneys - Twin organs found in the lower part of the back. The kidneys purify the blood of all waste and harmful material. They also control the level of some helpful chemical substances in the blood.


Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the major sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into two simpler forms of sugar called glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Not all people deficient in lactase have the symptoms commonly associated with lactose intolerance, but those who do are said to have lactose intolerance.
Laser Surgery - Surgery that uses a strong ray of special light, called a laser, to treat damaged parts of the body. Laser surgery can help treat some diabetic eye diseases.
LDL See low-density lipoprotein.
Lipoprotein (lip-o-PRO-teen) Compounds of protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.
Long-term side effects: Problems from chemotherapy that do not go away.
:Low Blood Glucose - A condition that occurs in people with diabetes when their blood glucose levels are too low. Symptoms include feeling anxious or confused, feeling numb in the arms and hands, and shaking or feeling dizzy.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen) A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called bad cholesterol. High LDL increases the risk of heart disease. An LDL less than 100 mg/dl is considered optimal, 100-129 mg/dl is considered near or above optimal, 130-159 mg/dl is considered borderline high, 160-189 mg/dl is considered high, and 190 mg/dl or greater is considered very high.


Meal Plan - A guide to help people get the proper amount of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in their diet. See also food exchanges.
Metabolism (meh-TAB-o-liszm) All of the processes that occur in the body that turn the food you eat into energy your body can use.
Metastatic (MET-uh-STAT-ik): The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group, while foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Most milk group choices should be fat-free or low-fat.
Microalbumin - A protein found in blood plasma and urine. The presence of microalbumin in the urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
Monounsaturated fat (mono-un-SATCH-er-ay-ted) Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fat is found in canola oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, it has the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.
Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat.
There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Your body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.


Nausea: When you have an upset stomach or queasy feeling and feel like you are going to throw up.
Neo-adjuvant (NEE-o-AD-joo-vant) chemotherapy: When chemotherapy is used to shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy.
Neutropenia: An abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.
Neutrophil (NOO-tro-fil): A type of white blood cell.
Nutrition (new-TRISH-un) (1) The process of the body using food to sustain life. (2) The study of food and diet.


Obesity (oh-BEE-si-tee) Having a high amount of body fat. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater.
Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish.
Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to break. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is common in older women. As many as half of all women and a quarter of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Outpatient: A patient who visits a health care facility for diagnosis or treatment without spending the night.
Overweight Being too heavy for ones height. It is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 up to 30 kg/m2. Body weight comes from fat, muscle, bone, and body water. Overweight does not always mean over fat.


Palliative (PAL-ee-yuh-tiv) care: Care given to improve the quality of life of patients with serious or life-threatening diseases.
Pancreas (PAN-kree-as) A gland that makes enzymes that help the body break down and use nutrients in food. It also produces the hormone insulin [see definition] and releases it into the bloodstream to help the body control blood sugar levels.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum. The duodenum is the upper part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine through a tube called the pancreatic duct. These enzymes help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body use the glucose it takes from food for energy.
A Peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers are common: One cause of peptic ulcer is bacterial infection, but some ulcers are caused by long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen. In a few cases, cancerous tumors in the stomach or pancreas can cause ulcers. Peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or eating spicy food, but these can make ulcers worse.
Peritoneal (PAYR-ih-toh-NEE-ul) cavity: The space within the abdomen that contains the intestines, stomach, liver, ovaries, and other organs.
Periodontitis - A gum disease in which the gums shrink away from the teeth. Without treatment, it can lead to tooth loss.
P:laque - A film of mucus that traps bacteria on the surface of the teeth. Plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing of teeth.
Physical activity Any form of exercise or movement. Physical activity may include planned activity such as walking, running, basketball, or other sports. Physical activity may also include other daily activities such as household chores, yard work, walking the dog, etc. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes and children get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Moderate physical activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking two miles in 30 minutes.
Platelet (PLATE-let): A type of blood cell that helps prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
A polyp is extra tissue that grows inside your body. Colon polyps grow in the large intestine. The large intestine, also called the colon, is part of your digestive system. It's a long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract where your body makes and stores stool.
Polyunsaturated fat (poly-un-SATCH-er-ay-ted) A highly unsaturated fat that is liquid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are found in greatest amounts in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, and many types of nuts. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.
Port: An implanted device through which blood may be drawn and drugs may be given without repeated needle sticks.
Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum, called the rectal mucosa. Proctitis can be short term (acute) or long term (chronic). Proctitis has many causes. It may be a side effect of medical treatments like radiation therapy or antibiotics. Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, herpes, and chlamydia may also cause proctitis. Inflammation of the rectal mucosa may be related to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, autoimmune conditions that cause inflammation in the colon or small intestine. Other causes include rectal injury, bacterial infection, allergies, and malfunction of the nerves in the rectum.
Protein (PRO-teen) One of the three nutrients that provides calories to the body. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build many parts of the body, including muscle, bone, skin, and blood. Protein provides 4 calories per gram and is found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, and tofu.
Pumice Stone - A special foot care tool used to gently file calluses as instructed by your health care team.
Pump: A device that is used to deliver a precise amount of a drug at a specific rate.


Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Recurrent: Cancer that returns after not being detected for a period of time.
Red blood cells: Cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Also called RBC.
Registered Dietician (R.D.) A health professional who is a food and nutrition expert. A person who has studied diet and nutrition at an American Dietetic Association (ADA) approved college program and passed an exam to become a registered Dietician.
Risk Factors - Traits that make it more likely that a person will get an illness. For example, a risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes is having a family history of diabetes.


Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose - A way for people with diabetes to find out how much glucose is in their blood. A drop of blood from the fingertip is placed on a special coated strip of paper that “reads” (often through an electronic meter) the amount of glucose in the blood.
Saturated fat (SATCH-er-ay-ted) A fat that is solid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fat is found in high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream), fatty fresh and processed meats, the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Eating a diet high in saturated fat also raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Sepsis is a life-threatening illness. Your body's response to a bacterial infection usually causes it. Your immune system goes into overdrive, overwhelming normal processes in your blood. The result is that small blood clots form, blocking blood flow to vital organs. This can lead to organ failure. Babies, old people and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sepsis. But even healthy people can become deathly ill from it. A quick diagnosis can be crucial, because one third of people who get sepsis die from it.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid or descending colon. Physicians may use the procedure to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation. They also use it to look for early signs of cancer in the descending colon and rectum. With flexible sigmoidoscopy, the physician can see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths, and ulcers in the descending colon and rectum.
Side effect: A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs.
Standard treatment: Treatment that experts agree is appropriate, accepted, and widely used.
Stroke - Damage to a part of the brain that happens when the blood vessels supplying that part are blocked, such as when the blood vessels are clogged with fats (a condition sometimes called hardening of the arteries).
Support Group - A group of people who share a similar problem or concern. The people in the group help one another by sharing experiences, knowledge, and information.


Thrombocytopenia (THROM-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh): A decrease in the number of platelets in the blood that may result in easy bruising and excessive bleeding from wounds or bleeding in mucous membranes and other tissues.
Your Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. The thyroid helps set your metabolism - how your body gets energy from the foods you eat.
Trans fatty acids A fat that is produced when liquid fat (oil) is turned into solid fat through a chemical process called hydrogenation (See definition). Eating a large amount of trans fatty acids also raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Type 1 diabetes (dye-uh-BEET-eez) Previously known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition in which the pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body is not able to use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. To treat the disease, a person must inject insulin, follow a diet plan, exercise daily, and test blood sugar several times a day. Type 1 diabetes usually begins before the age of 30.
Type 2 diabetes (dye-uh-BEET-eez) Previously known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes mellitus. About 90 to 95 percent of people who have diabetes have type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but either do not make enough insulin or their bodies do not use the insulin they make. Most of the people who have this type of diabetes are overweight. Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their condition by losing weight through diet and exercise. They may also need to inject insulin or take medicine along with continuing to follow a healthy program of diet and exercise. Although type 2 diabetes commonly occurs in adults, an increasing number of children and adolescents who are overweight are also developing type 2 diabetes.


Ulcer - A break or deep sore in the skin. Germs can enter an ulcer and may be hard to heal.
Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers form where inflammation has killed the cells that usually line the colon, then bleed and produce pus. Inflammation in the colon also causes the colon to empty frequently, causing diarrhea.
Underwater weighing A research method for estimating body fat. A person is placed in a tank, underwater, and weighed. By comparing weight underwater with weight on land, one can get a very good measure of body fat.
Unsaturated fat (un-SATCH-er-ay-ted) A fat that is liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils are unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. They include most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish, like salmon. [See definitions]
Urea - One of the chief waste products of the body. When the body breaks down food, it uses what it needs and throws the rest away as waste. The kidneys flush the waste from the body in the form of urea, which is in the urine.


Vaccination - A shot given to protect against a disease.
Vagina - A canal in females from the external genitalia (vulva) to the cervix of the uterus.
Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.
Very-low calorie diet Also called VLCD. A person following a VLCD eats or drinks a commercially prepared formula that has 800 calories or less, instead of eating food. A VLCD can allow a person to lose weight more quickly than is usually possible with low-calorie diets, but should only be used under the supervision of a health care provider.
Virtual colonoscopy (VC) uses x rays and computers to produce two- and three-dimensional images of the colon (large intestine) from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way to the lower end of the small intestine and display them on a screen. The procedure is used to diagnose colon and bowel disease, including polyps, diverticulosis, and cancer. VC can be performed with computed tomography (CT), sometimes called a CAT scan, or with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins your body needs. They are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat. Your body can also make vitamins D and K. People who eat a vegetarian diet may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Vitrectomy - An operation to remove the blood that sometimes collects at the back of the eyes when a person has eye disease.
Vomiting: When you throw up.


Waist circumference A measurement of the waist. Fat around the waist increases the risk of obesity-related health problems. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches have a higher risk of developing obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Weight control Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and getting regular physical activity.
Weight-cycle Losing and gaining weight over and over again. Commonly called yo-yo dieting.
White blood cells: Cells that help the body fight infection and other diseases. Also called WBC.
National Institutes of Health


Yeast Infection - A vaginal infection that is usually caused by a fungus. Women who have this infection may feel itching, burning when urinating, and pain, and some women have a vaginal discharge. Yeast infections occur more frequently in women with diabetes.

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Health Solutions | In Depth Coverage provides web-based nutrition tools and services that enable consumers to take charge of their own health. Our clinical nutrition programs provide online nutrition counseling services for weight-control; nutrition therapy for managing diabetes and cancer and customized menu plans to lower cholesterol. Our online nutritionists provide health risk assessments, diet evaluations, guidance and support to address the consumers underlying health conditions and personal likes and dislikes.

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