Medical Glossary for Diseases and Complications (A-Z)


Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic test that uses magnetic and radio waves to produce images of the structures in the body. It can be used to produce 3D images from different angles.Benefits of MRI ScanProvides very detailed diagnostic images of the organs and tissues in the body Provides unique information that other tests are unable to Is a painless procedure It does not use radiationCautions and Precautions While Conducting MRI ScansMetallic objects. Remove all metallic objects such as watches, keys and jewellery that may alter the image. Risks during pregnancy. MRI scans are generally considered safe during pregnancy, and there are not many studies that have shown that it harms the unborn child. MRI scans may cause warming of the body, and therefore it is recommended to avoid the scan during the first 3 months of pregnancy, unless it is absolutely essential.

Myths and Facts about Epilepsy

Myth 1: Having a seizure means you have epilepsy. Fact 1: Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Some seizures may be due to excessive drinking, lack of sleep or medication. A person experiencing 2 or more seizures more than 24 hours apart, with no identifiable trigger, has epilepsy. Myth 2: People with epilepsy are mentally unstable. Fact 2: Epilepsy is not a mental illness, but a physical problem with no single identifiable cause. Myth 3: You can easily predict when a seizure is going to occur. Fact 3: It is difficult to predict a seizure, although few patients can get a brief feeling called aura seconds before a seizure begins. Myth 4: Epilepsy is most common in children. Fact 4: It can develop at any age and is common in both the young and elderly. Myth 5: A person could choke on or swallow his/her tongue during a seizure. Fact 5: This is impossible. The person may bite his tongue during a seizure. Myth 6: It is not safe for a woman with epilepsy to get pregnant. Fact 6: Epilepsy has a minimum effect on the baby’s development. However, if an epileptic woman is on medication, there is a slight risk of birth defects.The neurologist and obstetrician could collaborate closely to reduce this risk. Myth 7: A person with epilepsy cannot live a full, normal life. Fact 7: Such people can live a full, normal life, but need to avoid extremes in lifestyle.

Myths and Facts about Food Poisoning

Myth 1: Food that drops on the floor is safe to eat if picked up within 3 to 5 seconds. Fact 1: Floors are usually contaminated with harmful bacteria that will come in contact with the food. Food that drops on floor should not be eaten or mixed with other foods. Myth 2: Washing hands briefly before start preparing food is enough to protect from food poisoning. Fact 2: Hands need to be washed properly before or after touching food, after using bath room, changing diapers, or handling pets. Ideally, hands should be washed with warm water and soap for about 20 seconds, scrubbing between the fingers, under the nails, up till the wrists. Myth 3: Cooking kills bacteria and thus prevents food poisoning. Fact 3: Though cooking kills bacteria to some extent, some bacteria produce spores and toxins that are not destroyed by cooking. This may cause food poisoning. Good food safety handling practice can minimize the risk. Myth 4: Only foodst hat look, taste or smell bad cause food poisoning. Fact 4: No, food does not need to look, smell, or taste bad to cause food poisoning. This may be due to the ability of some bacteria to produce harmful toxins in food. Myth 5: Food poisoning is not serious; it is just a stomach upset. Fact 5: Most cases of food poisoning are mild and it usually resolves in 1 to 2 days. In some it can be serious cause of death. Avoid food poisoning by maintaining good hygiene like cleaning, cooking, chilling, and cross-contamination.

Myths and Facts about Sleep

Myth 1: Your body can adjust to different sleep schedules easily. Fact 1: Your body takes more than a week to adjust to changes in time zones or switching to job shift timings. Myth 2: Extra sleep hours can ward off daytime fatigue. Fact 2: Quality of sleep is more important than quantity of sleep. Eight to nine hours of sleep may still not keep away fatigue if the quality of sleep is poor. Myth 3: Sleeping for longer during weekends can make up for lost sleep during weekdays. Fact 3: Following this may not help, but it may disturb your sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult for you to wake up on time on Monday mornings. Myth 4: Feeling sleepy in the daytime means that the person is not getting enough sleep at night. Fact 4: Feeling drowsy during the day even after sleeping well at night could signify a medical condition. Myth 5: The older you get, lesser the sleep you require. Fact 5: Sleep patterns change with age, but not sleep needs. Older people may sleep less at night and more during day. Myth 6: Your brain rests during sleep. Fact 6: The body rests during sleep, but the brain remains active and controls many body functions.

Myths and Facts of Breast Cancer

Myth 1:I can’t get breast cancer as none of my relatives have it. Fact 1:Majority of the women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. However, a woman who has a positive family history is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than a woman who doesn’t. Myth 2: If you have a family history of breast cancer, I will also definitely develop it. Fact 2: Not all women having relatives with breast cancer develop the disease. Genetic tests can help determine your risk of breast cancer. Tell your doctor if you have relatives with breast cancer because it will help the doctor decide if genetic testing is required. If the genetic test is positive, your doctor may recommend screening tests such as MRI scans and mammograms. These can help identify the disease earlier. Myth 3: MRI is better than mammography in detecting breastcancer Fact 3: MRI and mammography have their own benefits and disadvantages in detecting breast cancer. Owing to its sensitivity, MRI is able to detect more cases of cancer than mammography. However, MRI may also indicate breast cancer when you actually don’t have it (false positive), leading to unnecessary biopsies. Hence, it is currently not recommended as an initial test to identify breast cancer. Talk to your doctor to find out what option is best for you. Myth 4: Because the lump in my breast is painful, it cannot be cancer. Fact 4: Breast cancer is usually painless. However, some breast cancers can be painful. Inflammatory breast cancer can manifest as redness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in the breast. Myth 5: Any breast lump is probably a cancer. Fact 5: Most of the breast lumps are non-cancerous. It may be just a sac or an abnormal growth. Some lumps appear or disappear during menstruation.

Myths and Facts of COPD

Myth 1: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be cured. Fact 1: COPD cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Treatment can slow down the destruction of the lungs. Myth 2: COPD affects only the lungs. Fact 2: COPD not only affects the lungs, but can also increase the risk of heart disease. It can also result in high blood pressure and depression in the long run. Myth 3: COPD occurs only in the elderly. Fact 3: Yes, COPD mainly occurs in older people who have smoked for many years. In rare cases, it can be seen in younger people. Myth 4: It is too late to quit smoking. Fact 4: Even if you have already developed COPD, quitting smoking can reduce your symptoms and slow down progression of the disease. Myth 5: COPD only strikes smokers. Fact 5: The main cause of COPD is smoking as well as exposure to second-hand smoke. Long-term exposure to air pollution also increases the risk. Exposure to gases or fumes at the workplace can also lead to COPD.

Myths and Facts of Dengue

Myth 1: Any type of mosquito can cause dengue fever. Fact 1: No, all types of mosquitoes do not carry the germs that cause dengue fever. Only the species Aedes Aegypti carries the germs causing dengue fever. Myth 2: Vaccination can prevent dengue fever. Fact 2: There is no vaccination to prevent dengue. There are certain vaccinations that may help to subside the fever and ease other symptoms. You can prevent dengue by protecting yourself from mosquito bites. Myth 3: Mosquitoes that carry dengue virus only breed in sewer water or river water. Fact 3: Mosquitoes breed in any stagnant water and not only in sewers or river water. You should empty stagnant water from old tyres, pools, trash cans and flower pots. Myth 4: Antibiotics are required to treat dengue fever. Fact 4: Dengue is caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not used to treat dengue fever. Currently, there are no medicines to treat the viral infection. Myth 5: Do the dengue-carrying mosquitoes only bite during the day? Fact 5: Mosquitoes usually bite at dusk and dawn, but they may bite anytime during the day, especially when indoors, in shady areas or during cloudy weather.

Myths and Facts of Falls

Myth 1: Medications cannot be the cause of my fall. Fact 1: Some medications can help reduce a person’s risk of falling by treating conditions such as arthritis and low blood pressure. There are certain other medications that have side effects, such as dizziness, fatigue, confusion or weakness, that can increase the risk of falling. Myth 2: Muscle strength and flexibility once lost cannot be regained. Fact 2: As a person’s age increases, 20% to 40% of the muscle tissue is lost. Beginning an exercise program can help in regaining the strength and flexibility of the muscles and prevent falls. Myth 3: Falls are no big deal. They happen to everyone and do not cause any serious problems. Fact 3: One in three people older than 65years experience a fall that requires medical attention. Falls can lead to hip fractures and other serious injuries that can lead to death. Myth 4: Unlike balancing exercises, aerobics and stretching exercises do not help prevent falls. Fact 4: Besides balancing exercises, aerobics and stretching or strengthening exercises can also help prevent falls. Myth 5: It is better that I don't mention my fear that I may fall to family members to avoid worrying them. Fact 5: It is better to discuss it with anyone else who is in the position to help such as your doctor and family members. Collectively, you can reduce the risk of falls.

Myths and Facts of Influenza

Myth 1: Influenza is not a serious illness. Fact 1: In the past, influenza was considered a serious condition, which caused hundreds of deaths. Influenza can be a serious illness in people older than 65 years of age and in other high-risk groups. Myth 2: Influenza vaccine causes severe reactions or side effects. Fact 2: Influenza vaccines are safe. Most people who get vaccination may have redness, soreness or swelling. In some very rare cases, influenza vaccine may cause Guillain-Barrésyndrome, a rare condition that can cause weakness and paralysis of the body’s muscles. Myth 3: Getting influenza vaccine every year weakens the immune system. Fact 3: It does not weaken the immune system, but can increase your immune system’s ability to protect you against the virus. Myth 4: There is no treatment for the flu. Fact 4: There are anti-viral drugs that are effective against the flu. These drugs are more effective within 48 hours of having the symptoms. They can reduce the amount of time you are ill and make you less contagious. Myth 5: Antibiotics can fight flu. Fact 5: No, antibiotics can fight only bacterial infections. Flu can either be seasonal or swine flu, which is caused by another viral infection.

Myths and Facts of Kidney Stones

Myth 1: Kidney stones are caused by increased calcium intake. Fact 1: Calcium is one of the major components involved in the formation of stones. However, excessive calcium intake is rarely the cause for stone formation. Myth 2: Cranberry juice helps prevent stone formation. Fact 2: No. There is some evidence suggesting that cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections, but it does not have an overall beneficial effect against formation of stones. Myth 3: Men are more prone to kidney stones. Fact 3: Although men tend to develop kidney stones more frequently than women, in recent days a number of women and children are also developing kidney stones. In children, they may be due to genetic or metabolic disorders. Myth 4: Kidney stones are rare. Fact 4: No. Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. They are becoming a common occurrence in adults. Myth 5: Water is the only fluid that can help prevent stones. Fact 5: Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent stone formation. It does not depend on any particular type of fluid.

Myths and Facts of Osteoporosis

Myth 1: Osteoporosis is rare. Fact 1: Osteoporosis is a major health issue affecting millions of people every year that causes bones to become weak and porous. Myth 2: Osteoporosis is inevitable. Why worry about it? Fact 2: Osteoporosis and fractures are more common in those older than 50 years. The condition is not inevitable. There are three health choices you can make to prevent bone fractures and these are exercise, adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in the diet. Myth 3: I cannot get osteoporosis because I am a male. Fact 3: Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is more common in older women. Myth 4: Broken bones are the only danger. Fact 4: Osteoporosis is a serious and fatal condition. Complications of hip replacement surgery for hip fracture can lead to death. Myth 5: You can feel your bones getting weaker. Fact 5: Unfortunately, you cannot make out if your bones are weak. You may come to know that your bones are weak only when you have a fracture. Myth 6: Bones only break during falls. Fact 6: Most people get their bone fractured due to a fall. However, some people may experience spontaneous fracture due to pressure or stress on the bone even without a fall.

Myths and Facts of Tuberculosis

Myth1: Tuberculosis is hereditary. Fact 1: No. Tuberculosis is not hereditary. It is an air-borne disease that spreads from one person to another through coughing and sneezing. Tuberculosis can be contracted by anybody. Myth 2: Tuberculosis can cause lung cancer. Fact 2: Tuberculosis can increase the risk of but does not always lead to lung cancer. Myth 3: A positive skin test means you have tuberculosis. Fact 3: A positive test only confirms that you have been exposed to the tuberculosis bacteria and are infected. It is not necessary that you have the disease if you have a positive skin test. Myth 4: Only tuberculosis patients need antibiotics. Fact 4: Tuberculosis is a curable disease with medication. Even if you have the tuberculosis bacteria in your body but do not have the disease, you should receive treatment to prevent yourself from getting sick in the future. Follow your doctor's instructions to ensure that it does not become harder to treat it in the future. Myth 5: I will automatically get tuberculosis if I am in contact with a tuberculosis patient even once. Fact 5: Tuberculosis is not easily contracted. If you have been in close contact with someone who has had the disease for a long period of time, there is a risk of developing tuberculosis. Be aware of the symptoms of the disease, so you can consult your doctor if required. Myth 6: Tuberculosis infection always develops into tuberculosis disease. Fact 6: Infection with the bacteria does not always lead to tuberculosis disease. Mostly people with a weakened immune system such as those with cancer or HIV infection develop the disease once infected.