Health A-Z

Painful Intercourse

Clinical Definition Painful intercourse has a number of possible causes. It may be the result of gynecologic problems, such as cysts or endometriosis, or lubrication issues caused by menopause or lack of arousal. It also may stem from emotional issues relating to relationship problems or anxiety. In Our Own Words Painful intercourse is something many


Clinical Definition Heart palpitations are a perceived abnormality of heartbeat, including tachycardia or extrasystole. Palpitations can occur at any time, including during performance of daily activities. The etiology is diverse, ranging from stress, anxiety and other emotions to pregnancy, caffeine ingestion and certain medical conditions. Palpitations may or may not be linked to a serious


Clinical Definition Pancreatitis is an inflammatory process of the pancreas. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes, which normally don’t become active until they reach the small intestines. When pancreatitis develops, enzymes prematurely activate in the pancreas and attack it. This causes pancreatic tissue damage and bleeding. In Our Own Words Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas,

Panic Attack

Clinical Definition A panic attack, provoked by catastrophic misinterpretations of bodily sensations, is a core feature of the psychiatric condition known as panic disorder.  Marked by a period of intense fear or discomfort that strikes suddenly, often in a milieu where nothing threatening exists, the sense of danger is so intense during a panic attack

Parasympathetic Nervous System

Clinical Definition The parasympathetic nervous system is a subdivision of the autonomic nervous system. It consists of nerve fibers, which originate in the brain stem. It returns the body to homeostasis. The parasympathetic nervous system promotes slowing of the heart rate, flowing of gastric juices and muscular activity of the alimentary tract. In Our Own

Parkinson’s Disease

Clinical Definition Parkinson’s disease is a progressive motor system disorder. The specific etiology is not known. Symptoms are associated with progressive demise of dopamine producing neurons in the brain. Although it can develop earlier, the onset of the disease is generally after 50 years of age. It is characterized by bradykinesia, postural instability, rigidity and


Clinical Definition A pathogen is any microorganism or agent that invades another organism and causes disease or illness in its host. Pathogens are transmitted to the host via various pathways and have varying degrees of virulence. In Our Own Words A pathogen is any organism that can enter the body and make you sick. Pathogens

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Clinical Definition Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the female pelvic region that may involve the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries. The disease occurs as a complication of a sexually transmitted infection, commonly caused by the organisms Neisseria gonorrhoeae and chlamydia trachomatis. Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to the formation of fibrous tissue affecting

Peptic Ulcer

Clinical Definition A peptic ulcer is an ulceration of the alimentary mucosa. It usually develops in the duodenum or the stomach, which are exposed to gastric secretions. An infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is believed to contribute to a large percentage of peptic ulcers. In Our Own Words A peptic ulcer is a lesion


Clinical Definition Periodontitis is chronic inflammation of the periodontal tissue in the mouth due to bacteria. Tissue affected can include the gingiva, bone and root of the tooth. In Our Own Words Periodontitis is a stage of gum disease. When bacteria in plaque start to build up, it causes gingivitis. First the gums become inflamed,

Peripheral Artery Disease

Clinical Definition Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory disorder that causes a narrowing and stiffening of the peripheral arteries. It most often involves the arteries of the pelvis or the lower extremities, compromising blood flow. Complications can include gangrene and critical limb ischemia. Usually, the condition is due to atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease increases a

Peripheral Nerve Disease

Clinical Definition Peripheral nerve disease is any one of a group of disorders that causes peripheral neuropathy and interferes with proper nerve cell functioning. Various nerves, such as the sensory, motor and autonomic nerves, may also be involved depending on the disease and the underlying cause. Sensation and muscle functioning may be impacted to varying

Pink Eye

Clinical Definition Pink eye, medically known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition involving inflammation of the conjunctiva, or inner lining of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis may be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergens and is highly contagious. Additionally, foreign bodies in the eye can also irritate the conjunctiva, as well as air pollution, smoke,

Plantar Fasciitis

Clinical Definition Plantar fasciitis is a common foot injury especially among athletic people. It occurs when the strong band of tissue known as the plantar fascia, which supports the foot’s arch, becomes irritated, inflamed and painful. The plantar fascia is a ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot; it


Clinical Definition The pleura is the serous membrane, which lines the walls of the pulmonary cavities and lungs. It is composed of a single layer of mesothelial cells. The pleura is divided into two areas including the visceral pleura, which envelops the lungs, and the partial pleura, which surrounds the thorax, diaphragm and chest wall.

Pleural Effusion

Clinical Definition Pleural effusion is an accumulation of excess fluid between the pulmonary pleural layers. A pleural effusion can occur without symptoms; alternatively there may be symptoms including chest pain, nonproductive cough and dyspnea. This excess fluid can be described as transudative (watery) or exudative (protein-rich), which can help in determining the etiology. In Our


Clinical Definition Pneumonia is a potentially fatal illness that causes consolidation of the affected segment of the lung and inflammation of the lung parenchyma. Pneumonia may be lobular or segmental. Bacteria and viruses are the most common causative agents, although fungi and aspiration of food can also lead to pneumonia. The infection is characterized by


Clinical Definition Polyuria is excessive urination beyond the typical daily output of three liters, or just over three quarts a day. Polyuria is more prevalent with advancing age and is caused by a number of conditions, including congestive heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes and excessive intake of fluids during the day. In Our Own Words Polyuria

Postnasal drip

Clinical Definition Postnasal drip is the secretion of mucus into the nasal pharynx from the posterior nasal cavities. The condition is often chronic, with excessive or thick secretions. Allergies, sinusitis and upper respiratory tract infections may cause the condition. Postnasal drip is a common cause of sore throat and coughing. In Our Own Words Postnasal

Postpartum Depression

Clinical Definition Postpartum depression is characterized by an emotional disturbance including depressed mood in the weeks to months following childbirth. It is distinct from postpartum blues, which is generally mild and resolves with a week or two after giving birth. The cause of postpartum depression is not known, but fluctuating hormones may alter brain chemistry

Pre-Existing Condition

Clinical Definition A pre-existing condition is any diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition that occurred prior to enrollment in a healthcare plan. In the past, individual insurance companies may have put different time limits on pre-existing conditions for exclusion and rate purposes. In Our Own Words A pre-existing condition refers to a medical condition a


Clinical Definition Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients, typically carbohydrates, which benefit the host by stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or several select species of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Potentially, prebiotics can be used to favor the growth and activity probiotic bacteria. In Our Own Words Prebiotics promote good bacteria. Prebiotics are defined


Clinical Definition Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related hypertensive disorder that occurs most commonly in the second half of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is classified as a form of toxemia characterized by edema, hypertension and proteinuria. Risks for preeclampsia include renal disease, obesity and diabetes. The condition can progress to eclampsia if not treated promptly. In Our Own Words

Premenstrual Syndrome

Clinical Definition Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a condition affecting some women of reproductive age.  During the days before the menstrual period starts, affected women experience physical symptoms and/or dramatic mood changes. If these occur month after month, and other criteria are present, the diagnosis is PMS. Believed to be related to fluctuating levels of

Prenatal Care

Clinical Definition Prenatal care is the health care a woman receives during pregnancy. It involves monitoring and managing health issues, which may develop.  Prenatal care is important in order to reduce incidences of miscarriage, low birth weight and improve maternal and infant outcomes. In Our Own Words To provide the best care for a pregnant


Clinical Definition Presbycusis is the gradual, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss associated with aging. Manifestation may include the inability to discriminate sounds. Several factors may contribute over a lifetime to age-related hearing loss including toxins, infections, diabetes, exposure to loud noises, and genetics. Prebycusis can vary in severity and range from mild to complete deafness. In


Clinical Definition Probiotics are live microorganisms that may affect the host beneficially by improving intestinal microbial balance. While believed helpful, the role of probiotics, found in fermented dairy foods such as aged cheeses and yogurts as well as in other foods and in supplements, has not yet been established for most diseases and conditions. In


Clinical Definition Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease associated with inflamed skin lesions. These inflamed skin lesions are covered with silver-white scabs of dead skin scales. In Our Own Words Psoriasis is a condition that affects millions of Americans and can take on many different forms. Plaque psoriasis is the most common, and raised red


Clinical Definition PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is classified as an anxiety disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. It is triggered by a severe traumatic event, which causes fear of injury or death. The exact reason why some individuals develop PTSD is not known. The theory is an adrenaline response during the initial trauma may

Pulmonary Embolism

Clinical Definition A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the lungs’ main artery. It is usually caused by detached fragments from a thrombus in another part of the body. The thrombus moves through the bloodstream and lodges in the pulmonary artery, creating an occlusion. Due to restricted blood flow to the lungs, hypoxia and pulmonary

Pulmonary Hypertension

Clinical Definition Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is high blood pressure in the lungs. In PH, the blood vessels in the lungs and the right side of the heart are sites of higher-than-normal pressure. It is different from regular hypertension, which affects the entire body. This significant pressure strains the heart’s right ventricle so much it may

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