IBD Medical Terms in Plain Language

February 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm 1 comment

I was going through my Twitter feed the other day and came across something from Care Novate Magazine, an online resource that provides information on caregiving, social media and medical literacy. It’s a really cool idea and I spent awhile going through the site, which is how I came up with this post.

The most difficult part of living with a chronic illness like IBD is understanding what your doctors tell you. No matter how hard they try, medical jargon is still used in explanations, and a lot of the time, patients and their loved ones don’t fully understand what’s going on.

However, that’s about to change. PlainLanguage.gov provides an awesome in-depth medical thesaurus that defines commonly used terms for the average person. I spent some time going through it today and have come up with a list of ones that IBD patients often hear. Some of these may be repeats from my IBD glossary and others may be new. However, these are some terms that you will hear often and I thought it was important to put it all into one location for IBD-ers and their loved ones to refer to.

abscess: sore, wound, infection

abdomen: stomach, stomach area, belly, tummy, abdominal

absorption: take in, soak up

acute: sudden start, short term, quick

adverse event: something bad that happens, bad reaction, unexpected or unwanted effects

adverse health effect: bad side effect, bad reaction

analgesic: pain reliever, aspirin, Advil, or Tylenol

anaphylaxis: shock, a sudden and severe allergic reaction, stop breathing, poisoning, life threatening allergic reaction

anemia: tired, low iron, a low blood count

antibiotic: drug, medicine, drug that fights bacteria, infection-fighting medicine, medicine that fights infection

antibody: your body’s way to fight off infections, infection-fighting cells, cells that fight infection

antigen: germ, bacteria, virus, poison, something in your body that your body tries to fight off, something that helps your body fight disease

anti-inflammatory: a drug to reduce swelling, something that reduces swelling and pain, aspirin, cortisone, a drug that brings down the swelling; drug that prevents swelling

asymptomatic: someone who is sick but does not feel or look sick

autoimmune disease: disease that makes your body attack itself

autoimmunity: body fighting itself, rejecting problem with your immune system

bacteria: germ

biological agent: disease, poison, germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi

bone density test: bone strength test, a test of how solid and how strong your bones are; test for osteoporosis, xray test for brittle bones

catheter: tube

chronic: constant, never ending, does not go away, long term, lasting a long time, long-lasting

chronic disease: long-lasting disease, disease that lasts for years

chronic health condition: constant health problem, something that effects your health for a long period of time

colonoscopy: check your colon, check your intestines, look inside your intestine, check for colon cancer

conclusive: definite, final, last

contraindication: dangerous to give, not good for, when a drug or procedure may be harmful, wrong,


Crohn’s Disease: digestion disease, problem with bowels

deficiency: lack, not enough

dehydrate: need water, water loss, remove water, remove water

diagnose: test, find out, figure out, learn cause, name

diagnosis: finding out the cause of an illness, condition, disease, medical answer

dilate: become wider, become larger, become bigger, open

dilator: something used to make something become larger, wider, or bigger

don’t be alarmed: don’t worry

dose: amount of medicine, chemical, or radiation; amount, size

dyspepsia: indigestion, heartburn

edema: swelling

EHR (Electronic Health Record): synonymous with EMR (Electronic Medical Record) which is a digitally formatted medical record

electrolytes: blood salts, a type of necessary salt found in blood

emaciated: very thin, starving

emergency: emergency, urgent, threat, disaster, crisis

EMR (Electronic Medical Record): chart, medical records, computer medical record; medical record in a digital format

ESR: a blood test

family history: health information about your close relatives

fast: go without any food or drink, not eat or drink anything

fatigue: tired, weak feeling of the whole body, feeling tired all over

flare: a period of time when symptoms of a disease are worse, when your disease hurts more than normal

general anesthesia: put to “sleep”

genetics: family traits, science or study of family traits, study of blood relatives

hematocrit (hct): amount of red blood cells in the blood

immune globulin: something in your blood that helps fight disease

immunity: protection from disease, ability to fight off an illness

immunosuppression: when your body can’t fight disease

immunotherapy: medical treatment that helps your body fight off diseases

inflammation: swelling, injury, sore

inflammatory bowel disease: digestive system disease, intestinal problems

lesion: cut, injury, wound, sore

local anesthesia: drug that causes numbing only in the area of the body where the drug is put by spreading it or with a shot

microbes: very tiny fungi, sometimes viruses, that are too small too see; bacteria, protozoa

monitor: watch, check on, watch for changes, device that measures changes

MRSA: bacteria that resists antibiotics

mucosal (mucus) membranes: soft, moist areas just inside the openings to your body

narcotic: addictive pain medicine, drug

nephrology: study of kidney problems

nutrition: food, meal, diet, healthy food

obstruction: barrier, block, hurdle

opportunistic infection: infection you get because you’re already weak

osteoporosis: brittle bones

perforation: hole

peritoneum: lining of your stomach, belly, tummy

PO: taken by mouth, eat or drink

progression: move forward, go on, get worse, advance

pyrexia: fever

remission: when a disease is not active

renal: related to the kidney

restrictions: limitations, changes

rheumatology: study of the immune system, joints, and bones

Rotavirus: germ causing stomach flu

serosurvey: test to see how likely you are to get a disease

side effect: reaction, reaction to a medicine

spasm: sudden, strong muscle tightening, jerk, painful twist

spirometer: breathing test, breath strength machine, breath strength indicator

steroid: medicine, drug to lessen swelling, illegal sports drugs

susceptible: more open to, in danger of getting, likely to get

taper: reduce, slow, lower, shrink, decrease

therapeutic: healing, improving, getting better

trigger: cause, start, bring on, lead to

waning immunity: not immune any more; more likel to get sick; lost your disease resistance

warning sign: sign of trouble; problem; alert


Entry filed under: Caregiving, General Disease. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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