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Glossary

Glossary

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is pain and discomfort that occurs in your abdomen. Your abdomen is the section of your torso between your chest and your pelvis. Other terms used to describe abdominal pain are stomachache, tummy ache, gut ache and belly ache.

Everyone experiences abdominal pain from time to time. Abdominal pain can be mild or severe, and it may be continuous or come and go. Abdominal pain can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks and months (chronic).

Abdominal pain has many potential causes. Many causes aren’t serious, such as gas pains or a pulled muscle.

Call your doctor right away if you have abdominal pain so severe that you can’t move without causing more pain or you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position. Also seek immediate medical help if pain is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea or chest pain.

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Acne

A occurs when the hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Hair follicles are connected to sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oily substance known as sebum to lubricate your hair and skin. Sebum normally travels up along the hair shafts and then out through the openings of the hair follicles onto the surface of your skin. When your body produces an excess amount of sebum and dead skin cells, the two can build up in the hair follicles and form together as a soft plug, creating an environment where bacteria can thrive.

This plug may cause the follicle wall to bulge and produce a whitehead. Or, the plug may be open to the surface and may darken, causing a blackhead. Pimples are raised red spots with a white center that develop when blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected. Blockages and inflammation that develop deep inside hair follicles produce lumps beneath the surface of your skin called cysts. Other pores in your skin, which are the openings of the sweat glands onto your skin, aren’t normally involved in acne.

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Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an immune mediated disease of the brain. It usually occurs following a viral infection but may appear following vaccination, bacterial or parasitic infection, or even appear spontaneously. As it involves autoimmune demyelination, it is similar to multiple sclerosis, and is considered part of the Multiple sclerosis borderline,diseases.

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Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well.

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease occurs in all age groups and affects both sexes. Addison’s disease can be life-threatening. Treatment for Addison’s disease involves taking hormones to replace the insufficient amounts being made by your adrenal glands, in order to mimic the beneficial effects produced by your naturally made hormones.

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Agammaglobulinemia

Agammaglobulinemia is disorder passed down through families in which a person has very low levels of protective immune system proteins called immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are a type of antibody. Low levels of these antibodies make you more likely to get infections.

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Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. If you have alcoholism, you can’t consistently predict how much you’ll drink, how long you’ll drink, or what consequences will occur from your drinking.

It’s possible to have a problem with alcohol, even when it has not progressed to the point of alcoholism. Problem drinking means you drink too much at times, causing repeated problems in your life, although you’re not completely dependent on alcohol.

Binge drinking – a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks in a row, or a female downs at least four drinks in a row – can lead to the same health risks and social problems associated with alcoholism. The more you drink, the greater the risks. Binge drinking, which often occurs with teenagers and young adults, may lead to faster development of alcoholism.

If you have alcoholism or you have a problem with alcohol, you may not be able to cut back or quit without help. Denying that you have a problem is usually part of alcoholism and other types of excessive drinking.

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Allergies

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander.

Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as something harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis – a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can’t be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.

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Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata (AA) is a medical condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp, Because it causes bald spots on the scalp, especially in the first stages, it is sometimes called spot baldness. In 1–2% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp or to the entire epidermis.

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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder in which protein deposits (plaques) collect in the brain, causing nerve cells (neurons) to degenerate and eventually die. This process leaves behind substances called tangles. As your nerve cells lose function, you’ll experience a steady loss of memory and other thinking abilities (cognitive skills) and gradually lose your independence. Alzheimer’s disease can’t be cured, but doctors can help you manage your condition.

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Amenorrhoea

Amenorrhea (uh-men-o-REE-uh) is the absence of menstruation – one or more missed menstrual periods. Women who have missed at least three menstrual periods in a row have amenorrhea, as do girls who haven’t begun menstruation by the age of 16.

The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. Other causes of amenorrhea include problems with the reproductive organs or with the glands that help regulate hormone levels. Treatment of the underlying condition often resolves amenorrhea.

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Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a disease that occurs when substances called amyloid proteins build up in your organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein usually produced by cells in your bone marrow that can be deposited in any tissue or organ.

Amyloidosis can affect different organs in different people, and there are different types of amyloid. Amyloidosis frequently affects the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.

Amyloidosis is rare, and the exact cause is often unknown. Treatments are available to help you manage your symptoms of amyloidosis and limit the production of amyloid protein.

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Angina

Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest. Many people with angina say it feels like someone is standing on their chest.

Angina, also called angina pectoris, can be a recurring problem or a sudden, acute health concern.

Angina is relatively common, but can be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the pain or discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical attention right away.

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Ankolysing Spondylosis

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse together. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture. A severe case of ankylosing spondylitis can make it impossible for you to lift your head high enough to see forward.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects men more often than women. Signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis typically begin in early adulthood. Inflammation also can occur in other parts of your body – such as your eyes and bowels.

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Anti-GBM/Anti-TBM Nephritis

Anti-GBM disease is the result of injury to small blood vessels in the kidney or lung. This can be caused by autoantibodies that attack the walls of these blood vessels.

In the kidneys, the capillaries that are attacked are in the glomeruli, which filter blood and make urine. These glomerular capillaries have thin membranes in their walls that are the targets of the autoantibodies. These are called anti-glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) antibodies. The antibodies are found moving in the serum. The antibodies are connected to a very specific basement membrane protein. Injury to glomerular capillaries causes bleeding into the urine. It can also cause spillage of blood proteins into the urine, and reduced kidney function.

In the lungs, the capillaries that are attacked are in the thin walls of air sacs where oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide exits. Injury to these pulmonary capillaries causes lung bleeding and impaired breathing.

Anti-GBM disease that only affects the kidneys is called anti-GBM glomerulonephritis. This is a form of inflammation, which is injury to tissue caused by white blood cells. Anti-GBM disease that causes both kidney disease and lung disease is called Goodpasture’s syndrome. The lung disease is anti-GBM alveolar capillaritis. This is inflammation of capillaries in the air sacs of the lungs. The kidney disease is anti-GBM glomerulonephritis.

In kidney and lung capillaries, the attack by white blood cells is caused by the anti-GBM antibodies sticking to a basement membrane protein.

Under normal conditions, a layer of cells called endothelium protects the lower membrane from moving antibodies. However, at times there is increased leakiness of the cell layer. This happens in certain types of lung injury can be caused by exposures to organic solvents or hydrocarbons, smoking, infection, cocaine inhalation, and metal dusts. The lower membrane becomes more accessible to anti-GBM antibodies. This allows them to connect to the vessel wall and cause the swelling and bleeding that signals this anti-GBM disease.

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Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS)

Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) is a disorder in which your immune system mistakenly produces antibodies against certain normal proteins in your blood. Antiphospholipid syndrome can cause blood clots to form within your arteries or veins as well as pregnancy complications, such as miscarriages and stillbirths.

Antiphospholipid syndrome may lead to the formation of blood clots in your legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Antiphospholipid syndrome may also cause blood clots to form in organs, such as your kidneys or lungs. Damage depends on the extent and location of the clot. For instance, a clot in your brain can cause stroke.

There’s no cure for antiphospholipid syndrome, but medications can be effective in reducing your risk of blood clots.

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