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Glossary - Nontraumatic Emergencies

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Acetaminophen - a pain-relieving and fever-reducing drug found in many over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol.

Aneurysm - a saclike protrusion from a blood vessel or the heart.

Angina pectoris (also called angina) - recurring chest pain or discomfort that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood.

Antivenin (also called antivenom) - an antidote to snake venom used to treat serious snake bites. Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a horse's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snake bite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed.

Appendectomy - the surgical removal of the appendix (to treat acute appendicitis).

Appendicitis - an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-like portion of the large intestine that generally hangs down from the lower right side of the abdomen. Although the appendix does not seem to serve any purpose, it can become diseased and, if untreated, can burst, causing infection and even death.

Arteriosclerosis - commonly called "hardening of the arteries"; a variety of conditions caused by fatty or calcium deposits in the artery walls causing them to thicken.

Asthma - a chronic, inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems usually triggered by allergens. Infection, exercise, cold air, and other factors may also be allergic triggers.

Atherosclerosis - a type of arteriosclerosis caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.


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Blood pressure - the force or pressure exerted by the heart when pumping blood; also, the pressure of blood in the arteries.

Brain attack (also called stroke) - the sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain.


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Carbon monoxide (CO) - a colorless, odorless gas which can be created whenever a fuel (such as wood, gasoline, coal, natural gas, or kerosene) is burning.

Cardiac arrest - the stopping of heartbeat.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) - an emergency method of life-saving. Artificial respirations and chest compressions are used to restart the heart and lungs.

Central nervous system - the brain and the spinal cord.

Cerebral embolism - a brain attack that occurs when a wandering clot (embolus) or some other particle forms in a blood vessel away from the brain - usually in the heart.

Cerebral hemorrhage - a type of stroke occurs when a defective artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.

Cerebral thrombosis - the most common type of brain attack; occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms and blocks blood flow in an artery bringing blood to part of the brain.

Cerebrovascular accident - apoplexy or stroke; an impeded blood supply to the brain.

Cerebrovascular occlusion - an obstruction in the blood vessel in the brain.

Cholecystectomy - surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Cholecystitis - inflammation of the gallbladder wall.

Cholecystography - X-ray that shows the flow of contrast fluid through the intestines into the gallbladder.

Choledocholithiasis - a condition characterized by gallstones present in the bile ducts.

Cholelithiasis - a condition characterized by gallstones present in the gallbladder itself.

Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.


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Defibrillator - an electronic device used to establish normal heartbeat.

Dehydration - loss of fluids from the body, often caused by diarrhea.

Direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA) - a test most frequently used to diagnose rabies in animals.

Dyspnea - shortness of breath.


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Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) - an X-ray procedure to look into the bile and pancreatic ducts; an endoscope is inserted through the mouth into the duodenum and bile ducts.

E. coli O157:H7 (also called E. coli. or Escherichia coli) - a species of bacteria found in the intestines of man and healthy cattle; often the cause of urinary tract infections, diarrhea in infants, and wound infections.

Epilepsy (also called seizure disorder) - a brain disorder involving recurrent seizures.

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) - a procedure that uses shock waves to break gallstones up into tiny pieces that can pass through the bile ducts without causing blockages.


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Fever (also called pyrexia) - an abnormal temperature of the body. A fever generally indicates that there is an abnormal process occurring in the body.

Food-drug interaction - occurs when food eaten affects the ingredients in a medication being taken, preventing the medication from working the way it should.

Frostbite - an injury to the body caused by freezing.


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Gallbladder - organ that stores the bile made in the liver.

Gallstones - solid masses or stones made of cholesterol or bilirubin that form in the gallbladder or bile ducts.


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Heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) - occurs when one of more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.

Heat stroke - the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency. It is the result of long, extreme exposure to intense heat, in which a person does not sweat enough to lower body temperature.

Heimlich maneuver - an emergency first-aid treatment, consisting of a series of under-the-diaphragm abdominal thrusts, used on a person choking on food or a foreign object.

Hypertension - high blood pressure.

Hypothermia - an abnormally low body temperature brought on by staying in cold temperatures for a long period of time; a life-threatening emergency.


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Ibuprofen - a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) found in many over-the-counter medications (for instance, Advil or Motrin).

Indigestion (also called dyspepsia) - poor digestion; symptoms include heartburn, nausea, bloating, and gas.

Influenza (also called the flu) - a viral respiratory tract infection. The influenza viruses are divided into three types: A, B, and C.


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Lyme disease (LD) - a multi-stage, multi-system bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, a spiral-shaped bacterium that is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite.


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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Methyl-tert-butyl ether - a solution injected into the gallbladder to dissolve gallstones.

Myocardial infarction (also called heart attack) - occurs when one of more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.


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Peak flow meter - a portable, inexpensive, hand-held device used to measure how air flows from lungs in one "fast blast;" to measure the ability to push air out of the lungs.

Post-Lyme disease syndrome (PLDS) - a condition, also known as chronic Lyme disease, characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.


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Rabies - a widespread, viral infection of warm-blooded animals; caused by a virus in the Rhabdoviridae family, it attacks the nervous system and, once symptoms develop, it is 100 percent fatal in animals.


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Seizure - occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function.

Shock - impaired body function due to blood loss or a disturbance in the circulatory system.

Sphincterotomy - a procedure to open the muscle sphincter - a ring of muscle around a natural opening that acts like a valve - wide enough so stones can pass into the intestine.

Spirogram - a record of the amounts of air being moved in and out of the lungs.

Spirometer - an instrument that measures the amount of air moved in and out of the lungs (the amount of inhaled and exhaled air).

Spirometry - a pulmonary test of the lungs using a spirometer.

Splints - a device for preventing movement of a joint or holding in place any part of the body.

Stroke (also called brain attack) - the sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain.

Sunburn - the skin's reaction to overexposure of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the invisible rays that are part of sunlight.

Syrup of ipecac - an emetic made from the dried root of a plant called ipecacuanha, which is grown in Brazil. An emetic is an agent that causes vomiting.


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Transient ischemic attack (TIA) - a strokelike event that lasts for a short period of time caused by a blocked blood vessel.

Trauma - a physical injury or wound caused by an external force of violence, which may cause death or permanent disability. Trauma is also used to describe severe emotional or psychological shock or distress.


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Ultrasound - a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.


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Vertigo - dizziness.


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X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.


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