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Medical Terms


Anal Fissure - a tear or ulcer (open sore) that develops in the anal canal. 

Antiemetic - antisickness medication. 

Asepsis - a state where "it" is free from disease-causing contaminants. It is as close to sterile as is feasibly possible. 

Astigmatism - a common eye condition that causes blurred or distorted vision due to the cornea or lens not being perfectly curved. It is usually mild and most people with astigmatism wear glasses. 

Autoimmune - where the immune system identifies its own body's tissues as foreign and sets off an immune reaction (attacks them). 

Autonomic dysfunction– a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which controls all the unconscious functions in the body including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, temperature regulation, urination and breathing. It is also called Dysautonomia.

Autonomic Nervous System - the part of the nervous system which controls all the unconscious functions in the body including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, temperature regulation, urination, pupil reflex and breathing.

Autonomic Neuropathy - a nerve disorder that affects involuntary body functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and digestion. Autonomic Neuropathy refers to damage to the autonomic nerves. This damage disrupts signals between the brain and portions of the autonomic nervous system, such as the heart, blood vessels and sweat glands. This can cause decreased or abnormal performance of involuntary body functions. 


Buccal - absorbed through the oral mucosa (gums).


Central Line – An intravenous line which sits in one of the central veins leading to the heart, or just inside the heart. There are different types of central line, named depending on their type and the site where the line exits the body. I have a Hickman line, which is a tunnelled central line, which exits the body on my chest, enters the blood stream in a vein in my neck, and the tip sits just inside my heart.

Cannula - also known as a venflon, is a small plastic tube inserted into a vein. 

Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction (CIPs) – a condition in which the nerves and muscles in the gut do not work properly, producing symptoms of a bowel obstruction in the absence of a physical obstruction (a “Pseudo Obstruction”). 


Dysmotility - a lack of or disordered movement of the gastrointestinal tract (gut).

Dysphagia - difficulty swallowing.


Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) – is a heritable genetic connective tissue disorder caused by a defect in the protein Collagen.

Endocrinologist - are doctors that deal with diseases of the glands, the endocrine glands. The glands release hormones. Endocrinologists treat patients with hormonal imbalances, typically from the glands of the endocrine system. 

Endoscopy - a procedure in which an endoscope (a camera in a long, thin tube) is inserted into an organ or body cavity to look inside; endoscopy literally means "look inside". Examples include Gastroscopy: an endoscopy of the stomach, Colonoscopy: an endoscopy of the colon, Bronchoscopy: an endoscopy of the lungs, and Arthroscopy: looking inside a joint. 

Enteral – (Greek,enteros , meaning intestine) is any route of drug administration or feeding that involves absorption of the drug through the gastrointestinal tract.


Fentanyl - a synthetic opioid which is 100 times stronger than Morphine.


Gastroparesis - also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a condition whereby the stomach cannot empty properly so food takes a very long time to move from the stomach to the small bowel. 

Gastrostomy tube/PEG – is a tube inserted through a small incision in the abdomen into the stomach and is used for long-term enteral nutrition, medication administration and gastric decompression or drainage. One type is the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube which is placed endoscopically.

Gut bacterial translocation - where bacteria from the gut pass into the bloodstream and are pumped round the body, settling somewhere else in the body. For example, many people with gut conditions have infections in the body caused by bacteria normally found in the bowel where the bacteria has translocated from the gut to another place in the body. 


Haemoglobin - is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns the carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. 

HDU - High Dependency Unit

Hickman line - see central line.

Hypermobility - where the joints have a larger range of movement than normal.

Hyperthyroidism - where the thyroid produces too many hormones (thyroxine), also known as an overactive thyroid. 

Hypotension - low blood pressure.


Ileal Conduit - a form of a Urostomy whereby a section of bowel is cut free, one end sewn up, the ureters (tubes from the kidneys to the bladder) are attached to the sewn up end and the open end brought out through a hole in the skin to form a stoma. A bag is worn over this to collect the urine. 

Ileostomy – is a surgical opening constructed by bringing the end or loop of small intestine (the ileum) out onto the surface of the skin. Intestinal waste passes out of the ileostomy and is collected in an external pouching system stuck to the skin (“stoma bag”). Ileostomies are usually sited above the groin on the right hand side of the abdomen. 

Intramuscular (IM) – “within the muscle”, meaning that it is injected into a muscle. 

Intravenous (IV) –  “within a vein”. This means the drug/TPN is given straight into the bloodstream. 

Intestinal failure - a failure of the bowel to digest food and absorb nutrients. 


Jejunum - the middle section of the small bowel, following on from the duodenum and leading into the ileum. 

Jejunostomy tube - a feeding tube of which the tip lies in the jejunum, the middle section of the small intestine, which means feed and medication can be delivered straight into the small bowel, bypassing the stomach completely.


Ketamine - an anaesthetic, which is a type of drug that you might be given to put you to sleep for an operation. It is also used as a painkiller and a bronchodilator (which opens up the lungs to make it easier to get air into them). It is often used as a recreational drug to produce a high and can cause hallucinations including ones that make you feel detached from your body and can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), a fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and dizziness, nausea and vomiting. When used long term it can cause bladder problems and an increased risk of depression. 



Myopathy – is a muscular disease in which the muscle fibers do not function for any one of many reasons, resulting in muscular weakness.


NG tube – stands for NasoGastric or Nasal Gastric tube. It is inserted through the nose and down into the stomach, and can be used for feeding, giving medication and draining the contents of the stomach. There are also NJ tubes, a Nasojejunal tube which is similar to an NG tube except that it is threaded through the stomach and into the jejunum, the middle section of the small intestine.

Neurogenic – arising in or caused by nerve tissues.

Neuromuscular disease  is a very broad term that encompasses many diseases and ailments that impair the functioning of the muscles, either directly, being pathologies of the muscle, or indirectly, being pathologies of nerves or neuromuscular junctions.

Neuropathy – is damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which may be caused either by diseases of or trauma to the nerve or the side effects of systemic illness. It is classified according to the number of nerves affected or the type of nerve cell affected (motor, sensory, autonomic), or the process affecting the nerves (e.g., inflammation in neuritis).


Orthostatic - caused by standing up.

Orthostatic Hypotension - also known as postural hypotension, is a form of hypotension (low blood pressure) in which a person's blood pressure suddenly falls when standing up or stretching.

Osteopenia - low bone density that is not low enough to be classed as Osteoporosis (see below). 

Osteoporosis – a condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak and fragile and more likely to break (fracture) due to low bone density.


Parenteral - administered through any other part of the body than the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. "Parenteral Nutrition", nutrition not delivered through the digestive system). 

PEG - stands for Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy, a type of gastrostomy tube which goes through the abdominal wall into the stomach. 

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) – a condition caused by dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system whereby the heart rate increases abnormally on changing posture (laying to sitting, sitting to standing), which can be accompanied by a drop in blood pressure (Orthostatic Hypotension). The increase in heart rate should be over 30bpm.

Pseudo-obstruction - where the intestines act as if there is an obstruction without there being a physical blockage. 

Pulmonary Embolism - a blood clot on the lungs. 




Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) - also known as Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome (SBBOS), is a condition where there are abnormally large numbers of bacteria in the small intestine. The small bowel normally contains bacteria, but when a condition interferes with the movement of the gut, the bacteria stay longer and multiply quicker, causing SIBO, resulting in too many bacteria in the small bowel.  

Stoma – is an opening, either natural or surgically created, which connects a portion of the body cavity to the outside environment.

Sublingual - dissolved and absorbed under the tongue.

Suprapubic catheter - a suprapubic catheter is a hollow flexible tube that is used to drain urine from the bladder. It is inserted into the bladder through a cut in the tummy, a few inches below the navel (tummy button). 

Syncope - (pronounced sin-co-pee) fainting or passing out.


Tachycardia - fast heartbeat, defined as a heart rate of over 100 beats per minute (bpm). 

Thyroid - a gland in the neck that produces hormones. It produces Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4), which regulate the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. It also produced Calcitonin, which plays a role in regulating Calcium levels.

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) – Total Parenteral Nutrition is where all nutrition is delivered straight into the bloodstream. TPN delivered in the home setting is often referred to as Home Parenteral Nutrition (HPN). Parenteral means "not through the gut". 


Urostomy – a stoma made of a section of bowel which has been cut free from the gut, which the tubes from the kidneys (ureters) are then attached to. This means the urine drains from the kidneys, through the section of bowel (which acts like a tube), out through the stoma and into a bag stuck to the abdomen. It bypasses the bladder completely, which either must be removed (such as in bladder cancer cases) or just left unused in the body as it no longer works. 

UTI – stands for Urinary Tract Infection. It is an infection anywhere along the urinary tract, most often the lower urinary tract; a bladder infection, a.k.a cystitis.







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