Find definitions for thousands of medical terms, treatments, and tests -- even health-related abbreviations, prefixes, and suffixes.
Fabry's disease is an inherited condition in which an enzyme
deficiency prevents the body from breaking down molecules known as
glycosphingolipids. These molecules then accumulate in the kidneys, heart, and
nerves and throughout the body, eventually causing serious symptoms.
The disease affects males more severely than females. In males, Fabry's
disease may cause heart and kidney problems, clouding of the cornea and lens of
the eye, lesions on the skin and in the mouth, decreased ability to sweat,
and pain in the hands and feet. Females may not show any symptoms or may have
impaired heart function.
Fabry's disease is treated with medicines
that replace the missing enzyme. This medicine helps the body break down
glycosphingolipids and helps prevent complications. The medicine slows the
progress of Fabry's disease.
July 24, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
A false-negative test result is one that does not detect what is
being tested even though it is present. A false-negative test result may thus
suggest that a person does not have a disease or condition being tested for
when in fact he or she does.
For example, a false-negative pregnancy test result would be one
that does not detect the substance (human chorionic gonadotropin) that would
confirm pregnancy, when in reality the woman is pregnant.
May 6, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
A false-positive test result is one that appears to detect a
disease or condition when in fact it is not present. A false-positive test
result may thus suggest that a person has the disease or condition when he or
she does not.
For example, a false-positive pregnancy test result would be one
that appears to detect the substance (human chorionic gonadotropin) that would
confirm pregnancy, when in reality the woman is not pregnant.
Having a family history means that a person has one or more
blood relatives with a certain health problem. A doctor can look at a person's
family history to get some idea of the person's risk for that health
Blood relatives include relatives who are alive and those
who have died. They may be:
Some family histories are stronger than others. How strong
a family history is depends on:
April 6, 2012
Family medicine physicians, also called family practice physicians,
are medical doctors who specialize in the total health care of the individual
and the family. After four years of medical school, they complete an additional
three-year residency program.
Family medicine physicians can diagnose and treat a variety of
health conditions and diseases for males and females of all ages. They may
further specialize in another area of medicine, such as the care of older
adults (geriatric medicine) or people who have sports injuries (sports
Family medicine physicians can be board-certified by the Board of
Family Practice, which is recognized by the American Board of Medical
August 17, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
A fasting blood test is a blood sample taken from a person who
has not eaten for 8 to 12 hours. Usually, the blood sample
is taken early in the morning.
Examples of blood tests that may
be done after a period of fasting include fasting blood sugar (fasting plasma
glucose) and lipid profile (cholesterol and triglycerides).
September 20, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness or exhaustion or a need to rest
because of lack of energy or strength.
Fatigue may result from overwork, poor sleep, worry, boredom, or lack of exercise. It is a symptom that may be caused by illness, medicine, or medical treatment such as chemotherapy. Anxiety or depression can also cause fatigue.
January 7, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
Fetal ultrasound uses reflected sound waves to provide an image of
the fetus and placenta. Fetal ultrasound is the safest way to obtain
information about the fetus, such as its size, position, age, and
During a fetal ultrasound, a small handheld instrument called a
transducer is used to direct sound waves through the pregnant woman's abdomen.
A computer analyzes the sound waves that are reflected back from the fetus and
other structures in the uterus and converts them into an image. Fetal
ultrasound can be done by moving the transducer across the woman's abdomen
(transabdominal) or by inserting the transducer in her vagina (transvaginal).
After about the 11th week of pregnancy, almost all fetal ultrasounds are done
using the transabdominal method.
June 18, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
A fetus is the growing baby in the womb (uterus) from 10
completed weeks after a pregnant woman's last menstrual period until
July 23, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that the body cannot
digest. Eating foods with fiber helps to keep the digestive tract healthy,
stabilize blood sugar levels, and control cholesterol levels.
recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Fiber in the diet is
classified as either soluble or insoluble.
Bran is widely known as a good source of fiber. But
many commercially made bran products, such as muffins and waffles, actually
contain very little bran, and they are often high in saturated and total fat.
Check the labels for the actual fiber content.
January 25, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues. People who have it feel pain, tenderness, or both even when there is no injury or inflammation.
Depression, stress, and sleep problems are common in people who have fibromyalgia. These problems may make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
October 9, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Flashes of light are "sparks" that you may see when you move your head. They can happen when the
vitreous gel in your eye pulls or tugs (causes traction) on the
retina. This creates nerve impulses that appear as
flashes of light.
The flashes are easier to see when your eyes are closed or you are looking at a dark
area. They may come and go.
Flashes of light are often harmless, but they can be a sign of a retinal problem and should be checked by a doctor right away.
May 11, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
Floaters are shadows or dark objects that "float" across your field
of vision. Floaters may appear as dark specks, strings, or cobwebs that float
through the eye.
Many people begin to see floaters as they get older and their eyes
age. If floaters have been present before, or if they occur with a diagnosed
migraine headache, this condition is usually not serious. They are usually
caused by tiny bits of solid tissue that collect in the thick fluid that fills
the center of the eye (vitreous gel), blocking light to the retina.
Sudden development of floaters or black dots may mean that a
retinal blood vessel has broken and is bleeding into the middle of the eye.
This condition, called vitreous hemorrhage, results from the vitreous gel
tugging on the retina. It may also be a sign of a serious retinal tear, which
requires immediate medical attention.
August 7, 2011
Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
Fluoroscopy is a test that uses a steady beam of X-ray to look at
parts of the body and movement within the body, such as blood moving through a
blood vessel. Fluoroscopy also can be used to help find a foreign object in the
body, position a needle for a medical procedure, or realign a broken bone. A
dye (contrast material) that shows up on fluoroscopy can be put in a vein (IV)
or swallowed so vessels or organs show up clearly.
Fluoroscopy usually is done during other diagnostic procedures. For
example, fluoroscopy is done during cardiac catheterization to look at the
coronary arteries and the flow of blood through them. Fluoroscopy also may be
used to look at the urinary tract or during a hysterosalpingogram to look at a
woman's reproductive organs.
Fluoroscopy uses more radiation than standard X-rays.
June 29, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, is important for the normal
development of an unborn child (fetus). Folic acid and its closely related
compounds, folates, are needed for the production of red and white blood cells
and platelets, the formation of genetic material (DNA) in cells, and growth.
Only a small amount of folic acid is stored in the body. So
to avoid a deficiency, you must get folic acid regularly from the foods in
your diet. Folic acid is found in foods such as liver, kidney, yeast, fruits
(bananas, oranges), leafy vegetables (spinach), eggs, whole wheat bread, lima
beans, and milk.
Taking supplements of folic acid before and during pregnancy can
reduce the chance of having a baby with birth defects, such as spina bifida.
December 18, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
Folic acid deficiency anemia results from lower-than-normal levels
of folic acid in the body. It causes symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.
Causes of folic acid deficiency anemia include:
acid deficiency anemia is treated by increasing a person's intake of folic acid
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps control a woman's
menstrual cycle and egg production and also a man's sperm production. FSH is
produced by the pituitary gland.
Women's FSH levels normally vary throughout the menstrual cycle and
are highest just before release of an egg (ovulation). Men's FSH levels
normally stay at a constant level. An abnormally high or low level of FSH is
often a sign of an inability to produce eggs or sperm.
December 7, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
A fungus is an organism that can grow on living and nonliving
things. Fungi (the plural of fungus) include many types of organisms including
yeasts, mold, and mushrooms. Fungi that cause problems for people include
yeasts and molds and other types of fungi.
In some situations,
fungi can infect and damage tissue, such as skin, hair, or nails. Fungi also
may be involved in infections throughout the body, such as in the central
nervous system or the bloodstream.
June 27, 2012
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine