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Medical Language Explained!
Published on 03 August 2017 by Dr Rakhi Choudhary, GP, updated on 03 August 2017
Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was born around 460BC. He is considered to be the father of modern medicine, and was one of the first physicians to believe diseases are caused naturally, as apposed to philosophical beliefs. His therapeutic approach was based on “ vis medicatrix naturae" Latin for 'the healing power of nature'. Therefore, most of our medical terminology stems from ancient Greece and Latin.
Here are some common terms explained, alongside some Latin!
- itis ‘diseases characterized by inflammation’. For example, arthritis means inflammation of the joint. Phlebitis inflammation of the veins. Nephritis inflammation of the kidney. Conjuctivitis, inflammation of the conjunctiva in the eye. - ologist ‘one who studies’ for example Nephrologist, the direct translation is one who studies kidneys. Neurologist one who studies nerves. Hepatologist is one who studies the liver. - aemia ‘blood condition’ for example Anaemia a deficiency of haemoglobin or red cells in the blood. Septicaemia infection in the blood stream. - ectomy ‘removal from the body’ Appendicectomy, removal of the appendix. Cholecystectomy is removal of the gall bladder. Hysterectomy is surgical removal of the womb. Stems from the word Hysteria originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus!
Here as some Common acronyms a GP, General Practitioner may use:
FBC: Full blood count. Some of the things this blood test measures is your haemoglobin, white cells, and platelets. Haemoglobin: a protein that transports oxygen around your body. UES: Urea and Electrolytes, this is a blood test that tests your kidneys, and your potassium level. LFTs: Liver function tests. It tests many of the chemicals in your liver. UTI: urinary tract infection MSU: mid-stream urine. This is when a urine sample is sent to a laboratory for further inspection. C&S: Culture and sensitivity. This is when a sample, which could be urine, blood, or discharge is sent to the labs. The labs will culture any bacteria growing there, and test which antibiotics it is sensitive to. ENT: Ears nose and throat. BMI: body mass index is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.
Here is some common Cardiac terminology, which is all related to the heart:
ECG: Echo cardio gram. A test to measure the electrical activity of your heart. Systolic: the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is contracting Diastolic: The pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is relaxing Sinus Rhythm: the normal regular rhythm of the heart, set by its natural pacemaker called the sinoatrial node Arrhythmia: a condition in which the heart beats with an irregular or abnormal rhythm. Palpitations: a sensation or awareness of your own heartbeat Saturation rate: The amount of oxygen that is absorbed into your blood stream MI: myocardial infarction, the medical terminology for a heart attack.
Hopefully next time you see a clinician this will help decipher what they are talking about but if you ever do not understand what your doctor is saying, make sure you ask them to explain. It is important you understand your own health! Often doctors use jargon and forget to explain it, so if you are ever unsure, stop and ask them!