Health A-Z

Back Pain

Clinical Definition Back pain has numerous etiologies, with onset sometimes occurring after improper lifting or bending mechanics, and other times occurring due to spinal changes, such as intervertebral disc disorders. Disc injury, disc tears or herniation, spinal stenosis, scoliosis and other causes can trigger back pain, sometimes becoming chronic. Treatments include nonsurgical approaches (medication and

Bacterial Infection

Clinical Definition A bacterial infection is an illness due to pathogenic bacteria that gain entrance to the body through various means, including the digestive system, the respiratory system and the skin. Once inside the body, the bacteria reproduce, which may lead to various symptoms and illnesses. Bacterial infections are often treated with antibiotics. In Our

Bacterial Pneumonia

Clinical Definition Bacterial pneumonia is an acute or chronic infection of one or both lungs, with inflammation and varying degrees of fluid filling the air sacs (alveoli) causing respiratory dysfunction. Some types of pneumonia can be seen on chest x-ray as areas of density in the infected parts of the lungs. In Our Own Words

Bell’s Palsy

Clinical Definition Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of the facial muscles caused by damage such as swelling, compression, or inflammation to the seventh cranial nerve. An electromyography (EMG) can detect the presence and extent of nerve damage and may also help to predict the rate of recovery. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can rule


Clinical Definition Benign, the opposite of malignant, is often used to describe a tumor that is non-cancerous and typically does not metastasize. In Our Own Words In describing tumors, the term benign means “not malignant.” Benign tumors are growths that do not spread or take over like cancer does. While benign growths might be harmless,

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Clinical Definition Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is a condition marked by a non-cancerous proliferation of cells, both smooth muscle and epithelial, in the prostate gland’s transition zone. Lower urinary tract symptoms accompany the hyperplasia. Diagnosis is made by medical history, physical exam, and tests, including urinalysis. Treatments include watchful waiting, medication and surgery. In

Beta Blocker

Clinical Definition Patients with heart disease often take beta blockers, a class of heart medication that treats heart failure, high blood pressure and tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate). After a time, a beta blocker may enhance the pumping ability of your heart and improve mortality even in those with severe cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

Bile Acid

Clinical Definition In the body, bile acids are fatty substances formed from cholesterol and secreted by the liver to help the body digest fats and fatty acids. In Our Own Words Bile acids are weak acids, formed in the body from cholesterol. Bile ducts carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and then, when

Bipolar Disorder

Clinical Definition Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by pathological mood swings from mania to depression. There is no clear cause for the disorder, although there appears to be a genetic link, and scientists are trying to understand differences in brain development, connections and activity in affected individuals. The disorder is often treated with

Bird Flu

Clinical Definition Avian flu, or bird flu, is an infectious disease caused by avian flu (bird influenza A) viruses. Many different strains of the virus exist in the intestines of migrating wild birds, and some of these strains can cause mild to serious symptoms. These viruses typically infect only other fowl, but on rare occasions,

Blood Poisoning

Clinical Definition Blood poisoning, known medically as septicemia, is a condition that occurs when disease-causing organisms are living in the bloodstream, often having travelled from an infection elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs, abdomen or urinary tract. Chills and high fever are often early symptoms. Blood poisoning is serious and potentially life-threatening and

Blood Pressure

Clinical Definition Blood pressure is the force or tension applied to arterial walls of the heart during systematic circulation. Blood pressure measurement includes systolic pressure, which occurs during contractions of the myocardium, and diastolic pressure, which occurs when the heart is between beats. A normal adult blood pressure reading is: Systolic less than 120mmHg and

Bone Scan

Clinical Definition A bone scan is a nuclear imaging test that shows skeleton metabolism and cell activity. During the procedure, a radionuclide is injected into a vein. Gamma radiation is omitted from the radionuclide and collects in areas of the bone tissue where there are abnormalities. The areas where the radiation has collected are detected

Bone Spur

Clinical Definition Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are outgrowths of bone that are typically found on the bones of joints, such as the ankle or vertebrae. Bone spurs can be indicative of a condition such as arthritis, and may also contribute to painful symptoms on their own.Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are outgrowths of bone that are

Borderline Personality Disorder

Clinical Definition Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is considered a serious mental illness. It’s one of a group of conditions under the umbrella term of personality disorders. Those with BPD have often intense, unstable emotions and engage in risky behaviors such as overspending, unsafe sex or abusing drugs and alcohol. In Our Own Words Borderline

Brachial Neuritis

Clinical Definition Brachial neuritis is a type of neuropathy in which inflammation of the brachial plexus develops. The etiology of the inflammation is often unknown. In addition to inflammation, a sudden onset of pain and weakness in the shoulders and hands occurs. Although the condition may occur bilaterally, it is more frequently unilateral. In Our

Brain Tumor

Clinical Definition A neoplasm in the intracranial region of the central nervous system is referred to as a brain tumor. It can develop due to a mutation in cell DNA that leads to abnormal cell growth and mass formation. Brain tumors can be either benign or malignant and are also considered either primary or secondary.

Breakthrough Pain

Clinical Definition Breakthrough pain is a flare of pain that occurs in cancer patients even if they are taking pain reliever medication on a regular schedule as part of their cancer treatment. The term originates because it ”breaks through” the pain relief expected from the scheduled pain medicine. Breakthrough pain is very unpredictable, typically comes


Clinical Definition Bronchitis is inflammation of the main bronchial tubes leading to the lungs. In some instances, there may also be tracheal involvement. The condition can develop acutely from infectious agents like the parainfluenza virus, or occur chronically from bronchial epithelial injury due to lung irritants like cigarette smoking. In Our Own Words Bronchitis, when


Clinical Definition A bronchodilator is any drug, medicine or substance that causes the bronchial tubes of the respiratory tract to dilate, relaxing the bronchial muscles and increasing oxygenated airflow to the lungs. In Our Own Words Bronchodilators are most commonly referred to as types of medications that help relax and widen (or “dilate”) the air


Clinical Definition Bruxism is considered a type of movement disorder, which involves the unintentional act of clenching the jaw or vigorously grinding your teeth, usually during sleep. In Our Own Words Bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth during sleep or unconsciously during stressful situations. Grinding involves sliding the teeth back and forth

Bulimia Nervosa

Clinical Definition Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of excessive overeating, followed by a variety of compensatory actions to avoid weight gain, including vomitting, laxatives, fasting or immoderate exercise. In Our Own Words Bulima nervosa sufferers fear gaining weight and are very unhappy with their body image. They are often perfectionists with


Clinical Definition Bursitis is pain and swelling of the bursae, the small fluid-filled pads in or near the joints. Bursae help cushion any tissues that rub against or slide over hard bone. Pain and swelling are common symptoms of bursitis, and a person can have trouble moving his or her joints. Often caused by repetitive

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