A

Alcohol abuse
A disorder in which a person uses alcohol on a recurring basis despite negative consequences to the user.

Alcoholism
A broad term for drinking that causes problems in the life of the user. Symptoms of the disorder include: a strong desire for alcohol, drinking large quantities over a long time period, health problems as a result of drinking, social problems as a result of drinking, and engaging in risky behaviors while drinking (among other symptoms).

Anemia
Medical condition that occurs when the blood has enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. (Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that binds to oxygen.) Without enough normal red blood cells or with low or abnormal hemoglobin, the body’s cells do not get enough oxygen, causing fatigue, shortness of breath, pale appearance, and heartbeat problems. Anemia is the most common blood disorder worldwide.

Autoimmune disease
A disease in which a person’s body makes antibodies that attack its own tissues. Autoimmune diseases can impact almost any body part, including the nerves, brain, muscles, heart, skin, lungs, eyes, glands, kidneys, and the digestive tract.

B

Blindness
Blindness means the loss of useful vision, usually defined as having 1/10 of normal sight with corrective lenses.

C

Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten-based foods (such as wheat and rye) are consumed. In people with celiac disease, their immune systems attack the small intestine when gluten is consumed, damaging the villi that line the wall of the intestine. Damage to the villi prevent adequate nutrient absorption and can take months to years to correct once gluten is removed from the diet.

Community-Acquired Pneumonia
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)is pneumonia that occurs in people that have not been hospitalized. (See healthcare-associated pneumonia for description of pneumonia that occurs in hospitalized patients.)

CAP is one of the most common causes of illness and death in the world. The most organisms causing CAP include Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, viruses, and atypical bacteria such as hlamydia pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Legionella.

Condom
A condom is a thin latex or rubber disposable sheath that is worn on a man’s penis during sexual intercourse to protect against infection or prevent pregnancy.

Crohn’s disease
A chronic, inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and abdominal pain. Weight loss often occurs. Lifestyle changes and medications can ease symptoms.

D

Dehydration
Loss of water in the body which can be life threatening. Symptoms include dark urine (or decrease in volume of urine), dry mouth, thirst, lightheadedness, or weakness. Illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhea and diuretic use are the main causes of dehydration.

Dementia
A broad classification of brain diseases that cause a decrease in ability to remember and think; dementia usually worsens over time and impacts daily functioning.

Diabetes, Type I
An autoimmune disease where a person’s immune system attacks the insulin-making cells in the pancreas.

Diabetes, Type II
An acquired disease where the body becomes resistant to the insulin made by the body. Type II diabetes is caused by a combination of obesity, inactivity, poor diet, and genetic predisposition.

Dopamine
A chemical occurring naturally in the body. Dopamine is released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. Several distinct dopamine pathways exist in the brain, central nervous system, the digestive system, blood vessels, and kidneys.

E

Ectoparasite
A specific type of parasite that is found on the outside of the host’s body.
They are common on humans, domestic pets, and livestock. Common examples include fleas, ticks, and mites. Some may be vectors for disease, such as Lyme Disease from ticks, or “cat scratch disease” from fleas.

Epilepsy
A group of neurological disorders that characterized by seizures – from very mild episodes to long periods of violent shaking. Epileptic seizures reoccur, often without an identifiable cause.

Estrogen
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in female animals. It is responsible for both the development and the functioning of the female reproductive system. In humans, estrogen is responsible for the sexual traits that appear at puberty that distinguish females from males such as growth of breasts, growth of body hair, widening of the hips and fat distribution around the hips, thighs, and buttocks.

F

Fallopian tubes
Tubes in females that allow passage of the egg from the woman’s ovaries to the uterus.

Food allergy
Food allergies occur when a person consumes food and the body’s immune system treats that ingested food as an invading substance.

G

Gestational diabetes
A medical condition during late pregnancy where the mother’s blood sugar becomes too high. The condition occurs in approximately 9.2% of pregnancies.

H

Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia
Pneumonia that occurs in a patient 48 to 72 hours after being admitted to a hospital. Healthcare-associated pneumonia (HAP) is usually caused by a bacterial infection, instead of a virus.

Hemorrhagic fever
Hemorrhagic fevers are a group of human and animal viral diseases that cause fevers and excessive bleeding. These illnesses range from mild to severe and fatal.

Hypertension
Having blood pressure that is abnormally high, defined as 140 over 90 mmHg.In this condition, the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries can cause health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

I

Immune system
Hemorrhagic fevers are a group of human and animal viral diseases that cause fevers and excessive bleeding. These illnesses range from mild to severe and fatal.

M

Mucus
Slippery secretions produced by the mucous membranes of many types of animals. In humans, mucus is produced in the respiratory tract, digestive system, and reproductive system.

Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (often called MS), is a disabling disease of the central nervous system that follows an unpredictable course in its progression. MS disrupts the information flow between the brain and body and within the brain itself. The cause of MS is unknown, but is believed to have genetic, immunologic, environmental, and infectious factors.

Mutation
A genetic mutation is a permanent change in one or more genes. Such changes alter the instructions in the genes for making specific proteins. Mutations can be both beneficial or can cause a medical condition. Conditions caused by mutations in one or more genes are called genetic disorders.

O

Obesity
Obesity is the condition where the body has too much fat. (This condition is not the same as being overweight, which means weighing too much.) Obesity happens when a person eats more calories than they use. Obesity increases the risk of many severe health problems such as stroke, heart disease, arthritis, some cancers, and diabetes.

Ovary
(Ovaries occur in both plants and animals, but this definition is limited to humans.) Ovaries are two organs in the female body that produces eggs to be fertilized by a male. “Ovulation” is the process where an ovary releases an egg to be fertilized during each menstrual cycle.

P

Platelets
Platelets are one of the components of blood that stop bleeding by forming blood clots.

Pneumonia
Inflammation in one or both lungs where the air sacs in the lung fill with pus. Pneumonia can be caused by either bacteria or viruses.

Polyp
A small growth that protrudes from the mucous lining of an organ, such as the colon, nose, uterus, or bladder. This small clump of cells are typically non-cancerous, but some colon polyps are precancerous, which means they can turn into cancer.

S

Safe Sex
Engaging in sexual activity with precautions are taken (such as using a condom) to avoid acquiring or infecting someone with a sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV.

Serum
The liquid, watery part of blood that contains antibodies to fight disease.

Signs
Evidence of an illness that is objective, meaning it is visible to both the patient and the physician. (Fever is a sign.) In contrast, a symptom is subjective, and is apparent to the patient only. (Anxiety is a symptom because only the patient can perceive it.)

Sexual assault
Any type of sexual behavior or contact that occurs without consent. It includes rape, attempted rape, sexual threats or harassment, and child molestation.

Sodium
A mineral required by the body for regulating muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and volume, and fluids in the body. Sodium is acquired in the body by diet, mostly through the ingestion of salt.

Spasticity
A condition in which certain muscles are contracted on a continuous basis causing muscle tightness or stiffness and interfering normal movement, walking, and speech, and gait

Symptoms
Evidence of an illness that is subjective, meaning apparent to the patient only. (Anxiety is a symptom because only the patient can perceive it.) A sign is objective evidience of an illness, because the physician and others can perceive it. (Fever is a sign.)

T

Tau proteins
Tau proteins are proteins that are abundant in the central nervous system. The proteins stabilize microtubules, which are structures in the body important for cells to function properly. Disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are associated with defective tau proteins.

Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes) is a chronic medical condition that affects how your body metabolizes glucose, an important source of fuel for your cells. In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin to maintain the blood sugar at a normal level or it resists insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose movement into your cells.

U

Uterus
The organ in female humans and other mammals where the fetus grows during pregnancy. In humans, the uterus is located in the pelvic area behind the bladder. The uterus is commonly called a woman’s “womb”.