Lexicon

The following are the basic medical terms used throughout this history.  Many of these terms are no longer used.  The terms are not in any particular order.

Basic terms by Hippocrates:
  1. Dyspnea:  Shortness of breath
  2. Asthma: More severe shortness of breath (gasping, panting)
  3. Orthopnea: Shortness of breath that requires  the person to sit up to breathe. 
Basic Medical/ Historical Definitions:
  • Magico-religious:  Treatment for diseases that involves either incantation (magic) or prayer religious). 
  • Emperico-rational:  Treatment based on experience and observation.  
  • Rational (civilized):  A word that means physical, dietic, and pharmacological treatments that are not mystical in themselves.  They are generally treatments used by physicians, although they can work their way into the magico-religious.  For example, common ailments such as colds, asthma, stomach aches may be treated with herbs, but the unexplained diseases may be treated with magic.  We must be careful when using the term rational, as we must put it into the perspective of the beliefs of the people we are referring to.  While magic may not appear to be rational to us, it is to the ancient Egyptians, for example.  Usually, rational is used from our perspective, and in which case magic is considered not rational (irrational), and in this sense the term rational is equivalent to the term civilized.
  • Civilized:  Empirical medicine. It's what we would see as rational in the modern world.  For example, treating asthma with an incantation is not civilized, and treating asthma with inhalation of herbs on stones is rational because it would actually work.  
  • Natural:  These are diseases that are normally occurring , such as your common colds, aches and pains, pneumonia, pleurisy, etc.  They are generally treated with herbs, massage, broths, salves, etc.
  • Herbs:  Herbs were available to ancient people.  They may have known of their effects, yet not the why or how.  Such herbs were used to treat naturally occurring ailments such as aches and pains and colds.  Common herbs were opium, coca, cinchona, ephedrine, caffeine, carcara, sagrada, chaulmoogra, digitalis, ipacacuanha, podophyllum,, pyrethrum, squill, belladonna, and strammonium.  The modern medical profession may recognize these as many have been synthesized into many of the modern medicines we use today.  
  • Amulet:  An object that possesses magic properties to ward off evil spirits.  Generally it can be anything from a bone from prey, a chip of human bone (as from trepidation), an animal, an object such as an ax, knives, etc.  They meet and destroy evil spirits.  They catch and neutralize black magic directed toward the owner of the amulet.  These are often the chief means of preventative medicine in many ancient societies.
  • Black Magic:  Spells with the intention to do harm. 
  • White Magic:  Spells with the intention to do good. 
  • Fetish:  An object that  is the seat of magic power.  It may be the abode of a spirit or may have been charged by the medicine man with the mystic power, mana, or manitou, or whatever it may have been called.  It may be an object of worship.  The owner of a fetish expects it to act according to his intentions.
  • Omen:  A message believed to tell the future.  It was very common for ancient societies to see temples and priests, and even to dissect organs of humans and animals, for signs as to what will happen in the future.  It was important to medicine in that it could give the people hope and faith that good things are to come, such as victory in battle.  Of course it could also predict gloom, and in this case the person would be wary and careful.  
  • Totem:  An object reminding a group of their ancestry.  It could either be an object or an animal.  
  • Charm:  Stating of a magic spell
  • Talisman:  An object that possesses magic properties and brings good luck
  • Mascot:  An animated talisman, a person or animal that brings good luck
  • Incantation:  A magic spell used as medicine.  It's generally said to rid the body of black magic or evil spirits.
  • Prayer:  Petition to a deity, such as God or a specific god in the pagan world, for something good.  We don't think of it this way, but prayer is a form of medicine.
  • Pagan:  Polytheistic medicine; many gods; a follow of polytheistic medicine; 
  • Polytheistic:  Many gods
  • Monotheistic:  One god
  • Literati:  The educated.  In the ancient world few are educated, so it was special to be a member of the literati. 
  • Scribe:  A person who understands language and can read and write.  It was a very prominent position in the ancient world, and usually such individuals held high status.  
  • Physician:  A person who uses rational or emperico-rational treatment to treat the sick.  The first physicians by this definition were seen during the Ancient Egyptian era of about 3,000 B.C. They relied less on religion and magic and more on reality.
  • Priest:  These are people who treat diseases with incantations and prayers.
  • Sorcerer: See witch and magician; They diagnose what demon is in you, or what god is mad at you. Cures are based on the diagnosis, and generally are incantations, fetishes, amulets, etc.  They perform rituals, dances, touches, massages or whatever their society has decided is necessary to drive the demon out or satiate the angry god.
  • Fetish:  An object thought to have magical powers to protect and aid its owner.  
  • Magic:  Sorcery; the use of made up charms and spells to cure diseases; see white magic and black magic.  
  • Spell:  Incantation
  • Superstition:  Trust in magic; belief that what you do or say will effect your health; examples include: if you walk in front of a black cat you will have bad luck; if you toss salt over your shoulder you will have good luck.  It's also belief that incantations will actually work.  
  • Shaman:  A better term for medicine man.  Inspirational type of medicine man who is voluntarily possessed, through whom the spirit speaks, who exorcises and prophesies.
  • Seer:  The non-inspirational type of medicine man who is not possessed but has a guardian spirit that speaks to him not through him, who does not exorcise and is not a prophet.
  • Medicine man:  A person who embraces the totality of transcendental forces.  He is concerned not only with the people's health but with their general welfare, ranging from crops to victory in war.  It is his function to avert evil that may threaten the individual or tribe in any form to propitiate the spirits for the benefit of his people, and also to destroy the enemy.  He is, therefore, priest, sorcerer, and physician in one.  He is often the chief of the tribe, the king who rules over the people.  He often knows the stories and songs that tell of the origin of the world and the deeds of the tribe and it's heroes in a far remote age.  This secondary role is very important in a script less society.  For specific medicine men see Shaman and Seer. 
  • Humor (Humour):  Bodily fluids.  Throughout most of the ancient world it was believed there were four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile.
  • Blood:  Sanguine; if you have too much or too little you had a sanguine personality, or a specific ailment.  Curing it is to render the opposite humor.  If a person is believed to be sick due to too much blood, bleeding is the obvious remedy.
  • Phlegm:  A humor considered to be copld and moist. 
  • Black bile:  Not a normally occurring humor unless the person has been obsessed or cursed with some form of black magic.  An excess results in a melancholy personality.
  • Yellow bile:  Humor secreted by liver and causes the skin to be yellow.  
  • Primitive man:  man who lived pre-civilization, out in the wilderness, and daily in search of food and shelter.  In the modern world it means men who live outside civilization, such as the aboriginies of Australia.  They may participate in non rational or uncivilized medicine.
  • Serfs:  People who were bound to the soil or to the shop
  • Diathesis:  Hereditary predisposition to get a disease, such as asthma or allergies
  • Naturalistic:   Health and healing involving the use of preparations of the various plants and natural products.  
  • Supernaturalistic:   Health and healing involving incantations, prayers and exorcisms.  
  • Synthetic:  A chemical composition of a medicine that is similar in effect and cause as the original medicine.  It is the medicine made in a factory as opposed to grown on a farm or extracted from animals.  For example, atropine is a natural component of the thorn-apple plant, although atrovent is a synthetic form of atropine made in a factory (atrovent is synthetic).  Epinephrine is drawn from the thyroid of animals, whereas Iseotharene was synthesized as the first successful modification of epinephrine.  Epinephrine is natural, Iseotharene is synthetic. 
  • Physic/ physick:  Medicine; the art of medicine
  • Pharmacology: The making of medicines; this was a component of the Egyptian "black art," or chemistry.  It was originally to be an evil art, mainly because most of the solutions made were poisonous.  When solutions were mixed in adequate doses and given at adequate frequencies, these potions worked as remedies.  However, the potions must have been trialed on unwitting slaves or prisoners to learn what the results would be.  For a person who was severely ill, it may have been worth the risk of trying such a preparation.  
  • Chemistry:  Some think it comes from the Egyptian term khemia, which means "black land." Egypt was called the black land as opposed to the dessert being called the red land.  It was called chemistry because the Egyptians were thought to be the first to mix various liquids together.  This is also believed to be how pharmacology got its start.
  • Black Art:  Chemistry; comes from the Egyptian art of chemistry; pharmacology
  • Alchemy:  Art of mixing chemicals in search of the combination of chemicals that make gold or the ultimate cure.  This was the method of making many of the proprietary remedies. 
  • Proprietary Preparations:  Medicines made by combining a variety of chemicals and herbs and sold on the market under the guise that it is the ultimate cure for a specific ailment, or as a panacea or preventative for all ailments; folk medicine. The medicine usually involved solutions (mostly alcohol) that were bottled and sold to a naive or ignorant populace
  • Patent Medicine:  Proprietary preparations that were patented, bottled and sold under colorful names and labels.  This was a popular fad of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Most proprietary preparations of the 19th century were called patent medicines even though most were not patented.  Even the products not patented came under that claim that they were, indeed, patented.  
  • Folk Medicine:  Medicine practiced by people not associated with the medical profession; medicine practiced based on myth, theories, and lies. 
  • Proprietary Medicine:  See proprietary preparations or patent medicine
  • Nostrum Remedium:  Medicines that were sold but not tested (Latin).  In the middle ages such preparations were referred to as proprietary preparations; In the 19th century they were called patent mediicne. 
  • Morbidity:  Causes disease or distress
  • Mortality:  Causes death
Anatomy/ or Anatomy Related Terms
  • Circular muscles of the bronchial tubes:  A 19th century description of the muscles that wrap around the bronchial tubes or passages; bronchial muscles; see bronchiole muscles
  • Bronchioles:  The are the air passages in your lungs. The air you inhale moves through these tubes. They are often referred to as the bronchiolar passages or simply air passages.
  • Bronchiole muscles:  These are muscles that wrap around the bronchioles. They are often referred to as bronchiolar muscles.  In the older days, they may have been referred to as: "circular fibres of the branchiae."
  • Bronchoconstriction:  This is when bronchiolar muscles spasm and squeeze the air passages causing them to become narrow.  This makes it so air has trouble moving past the constriction.  This is the main component of an asthma attack.
  • Bronchodilation:  This is when the air passages open up, or when broncoconstriction is reversed.  This is what's necessary to reverse an asthma attack. 
  • Beta 2 Adrenergic Receptors (B2):  These are receptors that line bronchiolar muscles. Stimulation of these causes bronchodilation. They are often referred to as B2 receptors.  The ideal bronchodilator is specific to these receptors.
  • Beta 1 Adrenergic Receptors (B1):  Line heart muscle and, when stimulated, cause vasodilation, increase blood pressure, and speed up rate and strength of heart rate.  The ideal bronchodilator will not be selective to these receptors to limit side effects.
  • Alpha 1 Adrenergic Receptors (A1):  Line heart muscle and, when stimulated, cause vasodilation, increase blood pressure, and speed up rate and strength of heart rate.   The ideal bronchodilator will not be selective to these receptors to limit side effects.  
  • Beta 2 adrenergics:  This is medicine that sits on B2 receptors and cause bronchodilation.  These are sometimes referred to as beta agonists, B2 agonists, front door bronchodilators, asthma rescue medicine, or rescue medicine.  I prefer the term rescue medicine.  Examples include epinephrine, metaproterenol , albuterol, and levalbuterol.
  • Acytylcholine:  This is a neurotransmitter that sits on receptor sites on bronchiole muscles and cause bronchoconstriction.  
  • TracheaThis is the main tube-like passage to the lungs, and is often referred to as the windpipe. It's kept open by 16-20 c-shaped cartilages.
  • Glottis: The opening to the larynx
  • Epiglottis: This is the object projecting upward and guarding the opening to the glottis
  • Laryx: This is a very short passage that protects the lungs during swallowing, helps produce a voice, and is often referred to as the voice box.
  • Voice Box:  See Larynx
  • Vocal cords:  
  • Carina: This is where the trachea divides into the right and left lung. 
  • Alveoli. Microscopic air sacs inside the lungs where gas exchange occurs. Most adults have over 300 million of these in their lungs, and this is where most gas exchange occurs. Oxygen molecules inhaled wait here for an available hemoglobin molecule.
  • Bronchioles:  Smaller airways in the lungs between the bronci and alveoli
  • Bronchi: The larger airways that allows the passage of air from the trachea to the bronchioles. There are three regions:  lobar, segmental, then subsegmental. 
  • Bronchioles: These are the smaller airways that allow passage of air from the bronchi to the alveoli. They are divided into the respiratory airways and then terminal airways. Terminal airways connect to many alveoli to allow gas exchange. There is not cartilage to keep these airways open. They usually ranges from about 0.5 to 1 mm in diameter. These are usually considered the smaller airways. 
  • Cartilage: It is firm, soft, and flexible tissue that allows a structure, such as the bronchi and trachea, to maintain their shape. 
  • Bronchial Tree: A tree-like shape created by the branching into smaller and smaller airways of the air passages (bronchi and bronchioles)
  • Bronchial Smooth Muscle:  Smooth muscle fibers that crisscrosses and spirals (wraps) around the bronchial airways. These muscles spasm and constrict during asthma attacks to squeeze the airways to cause airway obstruction.
  • Alveolar Ducts: The respiratory bronchioles leads air to these fine ducts that terminate in clusters of 10-16 fine balloon-like structures called alveoli
Diagnosis/ Symptoms: 
  • Paroxysm:  Convulsion; A sudden attack of a disease; asthma symptoms; acute symptom
  • Exacerbation:  Acute worsening of a disease process, i.e., asthma exacerbation; exacerbation of asthma
  • Hypertrophy:  Enlarged, bigger.  An example is when you workout your muscles become hypertrophied; an overworked heart becomes hypertrophied
  • Spasms:  Involuntary contraction or convulsions of muscle or group of muscles; i.e., bronchospasm
  • Convulsions:  Spasms; 
  • Exciting cause:  Trigger; it causes a paroxysm
  • Asthma:  It was first defined as a disease entity by Hippocrates around 400 B.C., although he pretty much defined it as dyapnea, or short, gasping breaths.  Asthma wasn't separated from the umbrella of dyspnea and defined as a disease of its own until around 1700 by John Cullen.  Through the 17th century it was believed to be caused mainly by sputum, and in 1840 Dr. Charles J.B. Williams proved the spasmotic theory of asthma.  Through most of history asthma was also believed to be a nervous disorder, and this wasn't disproved until around 1950.  For a more thorough definition of asthma, read through this asthma history.  
  • Bronchospasm: Spasming of bronchial smooth muscle, such as what occurs during an asthma attack and results in shortness of breath. 
  • Dyspnea:  Shoreness of breath; short, gasping breaths; air hunger. We now use it to describe air hunger, although it's used by its generic for as simply shortness of breath. The term comes from Greek terms dysp for "ill" or "hard" and pnoe from the term pnein which means "breathing" or "to breathe." (from Dictionary.com)
  • Orthopnea:  Shortness of breath so severe that it requires a person to sit up in order to breath.  John Fuller defined it as more severe than asthma.  It's frequently a sign of heart failure. 
  • Pulmonary edema:  It refers to fluid buildup in the lungs usually due to heart failure. It's actually blood that backs into the lungs when the heart fails as a pump.  It generally presents as pink and frothy.  When it starts to back up to the point that a person starts coughing it up, it often appears as foaming pulmonary edema.   
  • Catarrh:  This is an old term that means swelling or inflammation of the respiratory tract that causes increased secretions.  It's usually used to refer to swelling and drainage in the nose. It's an old way to describe a cold, although "catarrh" can also exist due to other ailments, such catarrh of the lungs is bronchitis.  It may also refer to a symptoms of influenza or asthma.  . 
  • Ordinary Catarrh:  An old term used to describe the common cold.  It was probably also used early on to describe hay fever until hay fever was defined by John Bostock in 1819.
  • Dry Catarrh:  Described by Rene Laennec as catarrh that is not associated with increased sputum production.  It was more associated with asthma as compared with chronic bronchitis.  Laennec defines it as dyspnea associated with narrowing of the bronchi by swelling of the mucus membrane. 
  • Coryza:  Common cold. Acute inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.  It's an old term that is not used anymore now that we have more specific disease processes such as colds, allergies, bronchitis, and asthma.
  • Pleurisy:  Pain in chest with each breath.
  • Perepneumony (peripneumonia): Pneumonia and pleurisy
  • Pneumonia:  Inflammation or puss in the distal air passages and alveoli that impedes ventilation.
  • Ventilation:  The exchange of gases inside the lungs.  The inhaling of oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide. 
  • Pericarditis:  Inflammation or swelling of the heart
  • Hydrops pectoris:  Pleural effusion; fluid in the pericardial sac surrouding the lungs
  • Ascites:  Fluid in the abdominal cavity
  • Nephrosis:  edema
  • Hydrothorax:  Dropsy of the chest; fluid in the lungs
  • Edema:  Nephrosis; Increased fluid in tissue or organ; inflammation
  • Edema of lungs:  Pulmonary edema or foaming pulmonary edema caused by heart or kidney failure
  • Pulmonary Edema:  Fluid in lungs; see foaming pulmonary edema
  • Foaming Pulmonary Edema:  Fluid in lungs that foams; pink frothy secretions that seep from the nose and mouth during severe, end stage heart or kidney failure; symptom with it include severe orthopnea and dyspnea
  • Dropsy:  An old term for edema. It's an accumulation of fluid in a body cavity; a greater than normal quantity of water in a body cavity.  It generally presents with tightening of the skin due to fluid under the skin, and usually presents in the lower extremities, such as the ankles.  There are various forms of dropsy, which general are diagnosed by using the word dropsy coupled with the body part involved.  For example, fluid in the lungs was referred to it as dropsy of the lungs.  Water on the brain was referred to as cerebral dropsy. Other examples include dropsy of the eye, dropsy of the tongue, and dropsy of a joint.  Dropsy is the English version of the Greek term for water. 
  • Hydro:  Another Greek term for water.  It may be used in place of dropsy.  For instance, if a patient has dropsy of the brain, it may be referred to as hydrocephalus.  If a person has dropsy of the eye it may be referred to as hydrothalmia.  Dropsy in the paricardial sac around the heart was hydrocardia.  
  • Hydrops:  Another term for water.  For example, hydrops ascites is water in the belly. 
  • Hydropsy: Full name for dropsy 
  • Cor Pulmonale:  When your heart is overworked due to forcing blood through stiff lungs, the right heart eventually becomes hypertrophied.  As the disease progresses, this often results in left heart hypertrophy by default.  This is generally not a concern with pure asthma, although it is with other chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, farmer's lung, etc. However, it may be linked to asthma in older texts where one or more of these diseases was thought to be asthma due to the symptoms that present.  
  • Heart Failure:  Also referred to as Congested Heaart Failure.  This is when your left heart becomes weak and becomes an inefficient pump.  The result in blood gets backed up into the lungs and this results in pulmonary edema.
  • Winter Catarrh:  Common cold
  • Summer catarrh:  Hay fever 
  • Catarrhus aestivus:  Hay fever
  • Hay asthma:  Dyspnea caused by hay fever, or during the hay fever season
  • Summer Catarrh:  Hay fever 
  • Autumnal Catarrh:  Hay fever
  • Hay Fever:  An old term for allergies; sneezing, stuffy nose, nasal drainage, wheezes, itchy eyes and nose, and the like that were linked with the hay fever season; rhinitis
  • Rose Fever:  An old term for allergies; sneezing, stuffy nose, nasal drainage, wheezes, itchy eyes and nose, and the like that were linked with the rose blooming season
  • Fever:  Modern definition is a temperature of the human body that exceeds 98.7 degrees Farenheit; hyperthermia.  The old definition is any malady of the human body.  
  • Laryngo-bronchio-catarrh:  A term used by Dr. Philip Phoebus in the 19th century to describe inflammation of the respiratory passages due to contact with pollen.  
  • Aniphylactic shock:  A sudden and severe allergic reaction that results in drop in blood pressure and inability to breathe; pharynx and larynx and bronchioles swell so much it's impossible to get air in or out of lungs.  
  • Inflammation:  Swelling and redness; edema
  • Turguscence:  Swelling and redness, inflammation; edema
  • Lung Fever:  Pneumonia
  • Lung Sickness:  Tuberculosis
  • Gripp (Grippe):  Tuberculosis
  • La Grippe:  Tuberculosis
  • Pthisis:  Tuberculosis of the lungs; chronic wasting away
  • Pott's Disease:  Tuberculosis of the spine
  • Consumption:  Tuberculosis
  • King's Evil:  Tuberculosis of neck and lymph nodes
  • White Plague:  Tuberculosis
  • Plague:  Any disease with a high morbidity and mortality rate
  • Marasmus:  Chronic wasting away (malnutrition); often used in referring to tuberculosis
  • Long Sickness:  Tuberculosis
  • Galloping Consumption:  Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Potter's Asthma:  Tuberculosis
  • Polio Potter's Asthma:  Poliomyelitis
  • Poliomyelitis (polio):  Disease that causes infantile paralysis
  • Neuralgia:  General discomfort (i.e., neuralgia of the head is a headache)
  • Costiveness:  Constipation
  • Croup:  Inflammed (swollen) larynx; laryngitis, diptheria, strep throat
  • Cyanosis:  Darkened skin, bluish discoloration of skin, due to lack of oxygen in blood to that part of body
  • Debility:  Lack of movement; not able to get out of bed
  • Diptheria:  Contageous disease of throat
  • Dysury:  Difficult urination
  • Dropsy of lungs:  Edema of lungs; water in lungs; hydrothorax
  • Epitaxis:  Nose bleed
  • Quinsy:  Tonsillitis
  • Rose Cold:  Hay Fever; seasonal coriza, seasonal catarrh
  • Hay Fever:  Seasonal allergy, summer catarrh; winter catarrh, spring catarrh, etc.; Rhinitis
  • Suffocative Catarrh:  Croup
  • Epidemic Catarrh:  Influenza, coryza (common cold or flu)
  • Chronic Bronchitis:  Inflammation of the bronchi
  • Melancholia:  Depression; severe depression
  • Dysentery:  Disease of intestine causing fever, pain and diarrhea
  • Flux:  Dysentry
  • Flu of humor:  Circulation
  • Dysphasia:  Difficulty of speech
  • Frogg:  Croup (voice/ breathing sounds frog-like)
  • Kink:  Fit of coughing; fit of choking
  • Lumbago:  Back pain
  • Mania:  Insanity
  • Horrors:  Delerium tremons
  • Infantile Paralysis:  Polio
  • Membranous Croup:  Diptheria
  • Pertussis:  Whooping coug
  • Turgescence:  swollen, inflamed; buildup of fluid inside a tissue
  • Congestion:  Accumulation of fluid in one area, as in the lungs. 
  • Melancholy:  Gloomy, depressed, pessimistic; caused by an accumulation of black bile (see Spleen)
  • Spleen:  The ancient Greeks believed the spleen produced the humor black bile.  With an increased supply of black bile in the system, the person had a tendency to be melancholy (depressed) in nature.  Due to this belief, a depressed, gloomy person person was generally diagnosed with Spleen or Melancholy.  
  • Splenetic:  Melancholy, spleen, depressed; caused by an accumulation of black bile in spleen
  • Choleric:  The ancient Greeks believed a person with an increased supply of yellow bile had a tendency to become overly organized and controlling.  
  • Phlegmatic:  The ancient Greeks believed a person with an increased supply of phlegm had a tendency to become overly relaxed, easy going, friendly, peaceful (and also stubborn and pessimistic) 
  • Sanguine:  The ancient Greeks believed a person with an increased supply of blood had a tendency to be overly jovial and social.  
  • Cachexia (cachectic): Loss of appetite and weight due to chronic disease; chronic wasting away
  • Palsy:  An old term for paralysis or uncontrolled movement (shaking) of a body part.  It may be specific to a body part, such as the face (cerebral palsy), face, hands, legs, feet.  It may be specific to the heart, lungs, or body in general, which is generally associated with high mortality.
  • Torpor:  A state of sluggishness, lassitude, languor, lethargy, apathy, indifference.  
  • Lethargy:  A state of being sleepy; barely awake; awakens, although quickly falls back to sleep 
  • Apoplexy:  Old term meaning to become crippled or paralyzed (palsied) due to a stroke
  • Pituitous:  Full of phlegm
  • Anoxemia. A deficiency of oxygen in the blood
  • Hypoxemia. Abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood. 
Allergy/ Asthma
  • Chronic:  It's always there
  • Acute:  It's going on right nowAtopic:  A predisposition to an over reactive immune system that results in hay fever, asthma, allergies and eczema. It's from the Greek word atopia which means out of the way or uncommon (an abnormal response)
  • Allergy:  A hypersensitivity to an an antegen that causes the immune system to over react and this results in symptoms of inflammation of the respiratory tract and eyes, that results in congested nose, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, eczema, hives, and etc. The immune system over reacts to an allergen
  • Allergen:  Something that causes an allergic reaction, such as dust mites, cockroach urine, trees, grass, pollen, etc. 
  • Asthma:  The definition has changed over time.  The latest definition is chronic underlying airway inflammation that makes the bronchial muscles hypersensitive to asthma triggers. When exposed to an asthma trigger the inflammation becomes worse and bronchospasm occurs.  
  • Chronic asthma:  Inflammation of the airways that is always there.  All asthma is essentially chronic.
  • Acute asthma:  Asthma that is acting up right now; asthma exacerbation; bronchospasm
  • Asthma exacerbation:  Asthma that is acting up right ow; bronchospasm
  • Hypersensitive:  Over sensitive
  • Hypersensitivity:  A predisposition to over react to a trigger, such as an asthma trigger or allergen allergen; i.e. asthmatic lungs are hypersensitive to asthma triggers, eczema patients have skin that is hypersensitive to certain allergens
  • Anaphylaxis:  Hypersensitivity to causative agent such as an allergen; a protein entered into the body that does not protect it; a severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylaxis or anaphylactic attack that can become severe and life threatening (i.e. inflammation of the air passages that can inhibit your ability to breathe. 
  • Atelectasis. This is when alveoli collapse during exhalation and do not re-open. It most commonly occurs in the lung bases in patients with certain lung diseases. There is also an increased risk of it occurring in patients who do not take in deep enough breaths, such as patients who are on higher doses of pain medicine, or post-operative patients. 
Remedies
  • Prophylaxis:  a protein entered into the body to offer it protection; to prevent the spread of disease
  • Trepaning (trepination):  Process of opening up the skull for medicinal or spiritual purposes
  • Bleeding:  Allowing some blood to escape by cutting a vein; usually done to balance the humors to cure diseases, such as pneumonia and sometimes asthma; also called phlebodomy or venesection
  • Venesection:  Bleeding, phlebodomy; the drawing of blood from a vein
  • Phlebotomy:  Bleding, venesection; the drawing of blood from a vein
  • Fumigation:  Inhalation of fumes of smoke or steam for medicinal purposes.  It could involve smoke from a fire or steam from bath houses or other. 
  • Cleansing:  Various primitive and ancient cultures believed that a good cleansing of the body would either cure diseases or prevent them; it was also a means to expectorate poisons from the body.  The means of doing this would be by causing sweating, vomiting, bowel movement, urination, removal of sputum, etc. (diaphoresis, emetic, purge, diuretic, expectoration, etc.) 
  • Expectorate:  Cough up sputum; to spit
  • Emetic:  Substance that makes patient vomit (ipacec); expel poisons by mouth; treatment for dysentry
  • Diuretic:  Makes patient pee (lasix); causes urination
  • Enema:  Substance that makes a person have a bowel movement; cleanse out the bowels.
  • Purgative:  A remedy that cleanses the system by causing evacuation of the bowels; stimulates the bowels; laxative; cathartic
  • Purging:  To remove impurities from the body; to cleanse the body, by evacuation of the bowels.  Methods used were enemas and laxatives. 
  • Cathartic:  Substance that accelerates defacation (makes you poop); Stimulates the bowel; acts as a purgative or laxative; expels poisons by rectum
  • Laxative:  Substance that softens defacation to make passage of bowel easier
  • Diaphoresis:  Sweating; medicine that induces sweat; remedy such as steam baths, steam rooms, showers, or any other means of inducing a sweat
  • Diuresis:  Process of urination
  • Astringent:  Constricts body tissues to stop flow of blood or secretions
  • Narcotic:  Anything that dulls the mind or blunts the senses, and causes euphoria, such as opium, morphine, belladonna, strammonium, marijuana, alcohol, etc.
  • Opium:  Juice of poppy that has a narcotic effect; causes relaxation; soporific; analgesic; dulls the mind
  • Analgesic:  Reduces pain
  • Soporific:  Induces sleep
  • Sedative:  Induces relaxation
  • Hallucinogenic:  Relaxes the mind; causes mind to wander so you forget you're short of breath; dulls the mind
  • Solanaceae (Nightshades):  A variety of plants that contain alkaloids that have poisonous or healing effects on the human body, such as Datura Strammonium and Atropa Belladonna.
  • Strammonium (Datura Stramonium, Thornapple, Jimsonweed, jamestown weed, etc.):  It's a member of the  Solanaceae family of medicinal plants.  Used as a herbal remedy to make breathing easier and as a hallucinogenic; any part of the plant could be dried and crushed.  It was then burned and inhaled (inhaled, sniffed, snorted, smoked, etc.) It also thins secretions, so it can make breathing easier that way. 
  • Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade):  It's a member of the Solanaceae family of medicinal plants.  Used as a herbal remedy to make breathing easier and as a hallucinogenic; any part of the plant could be dried and crushed.  It was then burned and inhaled (inhaled, sniffed, snorted, smoked, etc.)  It also thins secretions, so it can make breathing easier that way. 
  • Cannabis (Marijuana):  The plant is dried and inhaled to produce a hallucinogenic effect, and also it makes breathing easier. 
  • Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum, Hemp dogbane): Similar to Cannabis, and grows mostly in America.  Inhaling various forms of the plant can ease the mind to take the edge off dyspnea.  Appocynum means "poisonous to dogs."  It must have been observed that dogs ingesting it died (probably of heart failure). 
  • Atropine:  It's the active component of the members of the Solanaceae family (such as Belladonna, Stramonium, Indian Hemp, Canibis, etc. It causes the bronchial muscles to relax, and in this way opens up the air passages to make breathing easier.  It also dries secretions, which may help both breathing.  It can also benefit some stomach ailments, as it dries secretions there too. 
  • Ipacac (ipacacuanha): It's used to induce vomiting 
  • Clysters:  Enema inserted into rectum
  • Albuterol (Ventolin): Rescue medicine that lasts 4-5 hours and is generally considered safe and effective for the treatment of asthma. It has the r-isomer, which opens airways. It also has the s-isomer, which some believe is responsible for refractory bronchospasm. 
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex): It's a rescue medicine that lasts 6-8 hours and is considered by some to have fewer side effects even than albuterol. It doesn't have the s-isomer present in albuterol, and this is considered to make it stronger and to make it last longer with fewer side effects. 
  • Isuprel:
Inhalers/ nebulizers
  • Atomization:  Nebulized; made into tiny particles that can be inhaled
  • Purvurization:  Pulverizing the particles so they can be inhaled.  An example is when water from a waterfall smashes into the rock turning the water into a mist.  The first mist nebulizers worked in this manner.  
  • Pulverizer:  A device that uses pulverization to create a mist to be inhaled 
  • Atomizer:  A device that creates a mist to be inhaled, although the particles vary in size from large to small.  Some of the first nebulizers were atomizers, although by the 1920s atomizers were reserved for sprays, such as perfume sprays.
  • Nebulizer:  A device that creates a fine mist (usually by using the Bernoulli Principle) to produce a mist small enough to penetrate the air passages of the lungs. 
  • Inhaler:  A device that allows for the inhalation of medicine, such as herbs.  Primitive use involved smoke and steam.  Modern use involves a small, pocket sized device that allows for the inhalation of aerosolized medication that is small enough to penetrate the air passages of the lungs.  
  • Anticholinergic medicine:  This is medicine that sits on receptor sites and prevent acetylcholine from causing bronchoconstriction.  In this way, this type of medicine is a bronchodilator, or a back door bronchodilator.  I prefer to refer to them as back door bronchodilators.  Examples include Atropine, Ipatropium Bromide, and Tiatropium Bromide
Lung sounds: 
  • Stethoscope:  A device used to listen to lung sounds.
  • Auscultation:  The process of hearing lungsounds
    • Direct Auscultation: Placing your ear upon a patient's chest
    • Mediate Auscultation: Using a stethoscope
  • Rhonchi:  This is an old term that originally referred to any continuous high or low pitch sounds heard in the lungs.  Today this lung sound is still used, and mainly refers to coarse or low pitch wheezes (sonorous wheezes).  However, some use it to describe secretions in the air passages (see rhales). In many old text, rhonchi is used instead of wheeze, and rhonchi is broken down into two types: sibilant and sonorous (see below).
  • Rhales (Rales):  This is an old term used to describe wet lung sounds.  The wet sound may be produced from excessive secretions (as with chronic bronchitis) or frothy blood (as with heart failure).  When Rene Laennec came up with this term, heart failure and chronic bronchitis were often looped under the umbrella term of asthma, and therefore you may see it used in relation to asthma.  Today the term is generally no longer used, and coarse crackles is used instead.  Rhales are generally heard on inspiration and expiration, and generally compose at least 3/4 of the lung fields. 
  • Rales Vibrants:  Same as Rales (see above).  It basically refers to the rapid, vibrating, sound of fluid moving around in the lungs as the patient inhales and exhales.  
  • Sibilant Rhonchi:  This is a constant high pitch sound of air moving through narrowed air passages in the lungs, and we now refer to it as a sibilant wheeze, or simply a wheeze.
  • Sonorous Rhonchi:  This is the constant low pitch sound of secretions moving through the air passages.  It's generally a coarse sound and is now simply referred to as rhonchi (see above). 
  • Sibilant Wheeze:  This is a constant high pitch sound of air moving through narrowed air passages.  It is generally associated with bronchospasm.  This sound is almost always inaudible and can only be heard on auscultation.  
  • Sonorous Wheeze:  This is a constant low pitch sound of air moving through secretion filled air passages, as in chronic bronchitis or pneumonia.  It is not associated with bronchospasm.  This sound can be audible or inaudible, and can sometimes be heard with or without auscultation. 
  • Wheeze: This is the same as sibilant wheeze.  However, many simply refer to any respiratory high pitch or low pitch sound as a wheeze.  
  • Crackle:  This is a modern used in an attempt to be more specific than rhales.  It's a fine "crack" of the lungs popping open, or it can be the sound of fluid (either mucus or blood) moving around in the lungfields on inspiration and expiration.  This term is nonspecific, and is ideally broken down into fine crackles and coarse crackles.
  • Fine Crackles:  This generally refers to the sound of the air sace (alveoli) popping open on inspiration.  This sound is generally isolated to certain lung fields.  For example, chronic bronchitis patients are unable to take in a deep breath, and therefore these may be heard in the bases upon a deep inspiration. When heard in only one or two lobes (such as left lower lobe and left upper lobe) it can be an early sign of pneumonia.
  • Coarse Crackles:  This generally refers to the sound of fluid in the lungs.  This sound is generally gravity driven, whereas when a person with fluid in his lungs lies on his left side, coarse crackles will be heard on the left lung fields.  When the person is sitting or standing, they will be heard in the bases. This lungsound, therefore, is not specific to one or two lobes.  
  • Stridor:  This generally refers to the sound of air moving through large airways (such as the throat) that are inflamed or filled with secretions.  This sound is generally harsh and it can be audible.  
Medical theories
  • Spasmotic theory of asthma:  The belief that contraction or spasms of the muscles that line the bronchioles is a main component of asthma
  • Nervous theory of asthma:  The belief that asthma is nervous in origin, or caused by things that influence the mind, such as strong emotions (laughter, crying), stress, excessive happiness, excessive sadness, a yearning for the mother, etc. 
  • Pneumatic asthma:  A term used by Thomas Willis (1621-1675) to refer to all descriptions of asthma before his time.  It is when the lungs are "obstructed or not open enough."  Samuel Gee  (1839-1911) wrote that the ancients regarded all asthma as "pneumatic and dependent on bronchial obstruction."
  • Psychosomatic theory of asthma:  Another name for the Nervous theory of asthma.  It's a term that  was sometimes used by the medical community during the 20th century.  
  • Bronchitic theory of asthma:  Wheezing and dyspnea depend on obstruction of the air tubes by the inflammatory products of bronchitis. 
  • Convulsive theory of asthma:  That asthma is caused by convulsions or spasms of the bronchioles, also see spasmotic theory of asthma and brochospasm theory of asthma
  • Spasmotic theory of asthma:  That asthma is caused by convulsions or spasms of the bronchioles, also see convulsive theory of asthma and bronchospasm theory of asthma
  • Bronchospasm theory of asthma:  That asthma is caused by convulsions or spasms of the brochioles, also see convulsive theory of asthma and spasmotic theory of asthma
Respiratory Therapy Terms
  • Ventilate: The process of moving air into and out of the lungs during inspiration and expiration.
  • Inspiration: The process of taking in a breath, or making a patient take in a breath
  • Expiration:  The process of exhaling, or letting air out of the lungs
  • Respiration: Movement of air from the atmosphere to the lungs.
  • Artificial Respiration: The act of assisting or providing breaths for a person 
  • Artificial Respirator: A device used to provide artificial respiration.
  • Respirator: An device used to induce artificial respiration; an old term for ventilator
  • Ventilator: An device used to induce artificial respiration; a modern term for respirator
  • Positive Pressure Breathing. The use of positive pressure to assist or induce artificial breathing
  • Barotrauma: Trauma to the lungs caused by supplying too much pressure during positive pressure breathing.
  • Intubation: The process of inserting a hollow tube into the airway in order to provide artificial respiration.
  • Intubate:  See intubation.
  • Stoma: A small hole in the trachea
  • Tracheotomy: An incision in the trachea to remove an obstruction to breathing
  • Tracheostomy: A small hole in the trachea intended to reduce obstructions to breathing
  • Tracheostomy Tube: A hollow tube inserted into a tracheostomy stoma.
  • Endotracheol Tube (ETT): A hollow tube inserted into the airway during intubation.. 
  • Laryngoscopy: A procedure used to see the vocal cords
  • Laryngoscope:  A scope used during larygoscopy.
  • Laryngoscope Blade. A blade used to life soft tissue out of the way so the vocal cords can be visualized during larygoscopy and intubation
  • Miller Blade. A straight larygoscope blade introduced in 1941 by Robert A. Miller. It lifts the epiglotis for easy visualization of the vocal cords during intubation. 
  • Macintosh: A curved laryngoscope blade introduced in 1943 by Robert Macintosh. The blade is inserted into the right side of the mouth and sits on the base of the tongue or vallecula to push the tongue to the left and indirectly lift the epiglottis for easy visualization of the vocal cords during intubation. 
  • Magill Forceps: Forceps inserted into the mouth to assist with insertion of the ETT through the vocal cords during nasal intubation. It was introduced in 1921 by Ivan Magill.
  • Manual breaths: Artificial resuscitation
  • Positive Pressure Breathing: Assisting or providing a breath by using positive pressure. This requires creating seal over the mouth and nose with mask, or creating an airway using an ETT or tracheostomy tube. Mouth to mouth breathing, and bagging, are both considered forms of positive pressure breathing. 
  • Negative Pressure Breathing. Air is drawn into the lungs when a negative pressure is created. This is the natural mechanism of breathing. The chest is drawn outward by the muscles of respiration and a negative pressure is created inside the chest to, in effect, suck air into the lungs. Negative Pressure Ventilators (iron lungs) immitate this natural process of breathing by creating a negative pressure inside the chest. 
  • Bagging: Using an AMBU-bag to provide artificial resuscitation
  • AMBU-bag: A bag valve mask; The mask is placed over the patient's mouth and nose, and the bag is squeezed by a provider, in order to provide artificial resuscitation.
  • Bag Valve Mask. See AMBU-bag. 
  • Positive Pressure Ventilator:  A ventilator that causes air to enter the lungs by creating a positive pressure. Most modern ventilators are positive pressure ventilators.
  • Negative Pressure Ventilator: A ventilator that causes air to enter the lungs by causing the chest to expand and causing a negative pressure. Iron Lungs were negative pressure ventilators. 
  • Non-invasive ventilator: A machine that provides positive pressure to a patient using a mask over the nose, mouth, or mouth and nose. It is referred to as non-invasive because it does not require intubation, an invasive procedure.
  • Positive Pressure Machine: Machines that provide positive pressure to the airway, either during artificial resuscitation or as therapy.
  • Iron Lung. A large, metal tank the provided negative pressure ventilator. It completely enclosed the patient's body except for the head. They were the most ventilators used in the hospital setting between 1929 and the mid 1950s when positive pressure ventilators became the norm. 
  • Pneumatic:  Powered by a flow of air and does not require electricity.
  • Intermittent Positive Pressure Breathing (IPPB): A pneumatic positive pressure machine that provides intermittent positive pressure breaths as therapy. This type of therapy has been phased out by most medical institutions. 
  • Secretions: Mucus
  • Mucus: Secretions
  • Sputum: The name for mucus or secretions once they enter the oral cavity (mouth). They can either be swallowed or spit up. 
  • Expectorate: Spit up, as in spit up mucus or secretions. 
  • Tidal Volume: The normal amount of air taken in by a person during a normal inhalation (during artificial resuscitation, the goal is to achieve this normal value.  A modern formula for determining normal tidal volume is 6-8cc/kg ideal body weight. However, when I went to school in 1995, this was 10-15cc/kg ideal body weight. So, as you can see, what is considered normal today was once considered ineffective. 
  • Pressure Support (PS):
  • Pressure Trigger
  • Pressure Cycled: Inspiration ends when a set pressure is reached
Other
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC):  A liquified gas propellant used in used in asthma inhalers until the Montreal Protocol was signed in the late 1990s and a goal was set to ban the propellant to protect the ozone. 
  • Hydroflouroalkane (HFA):  A new propellant used in inhalers that is safe for the environment.  Most inhalers on the market now use this propellant or are propellant free.
  • Montreal Protocol:  A pact by various countries to ban CFC propellants and replace them by something else.
  • Papyri (papyrus):  Paper-like material made from the papyri tree.  It was the material used for writing in ancient Egypt and was usually rolled into scrolls.  
  • Georg Eber Papyri:  A papyri found between the legs of an Egyptian mummy believed to be the oldest medical document in recorded history.  It was purchased in 1873 by George Eber, and is believed to be dated back to 1550 B.C.  It's s 110 page scroll and 20 meters long. It is believed to contain copies of older texts.  It contains descriptions of internal diseases and treatments, which generally involve magic.  It is written in hieroglyphics.  
  • Edwin Smith Papyri:  It's the oldest known surgical text dating back to 1500 BC.  It does not involve as much magic as the Eber Papyri because most of the ailments described are actual and seen, such as broken bones and cuts.  It's considered to be the first document of rational medicine.  It's a 17 page scroll and 4.6 meters in length.  It's believed to be copies of older medical texts.  

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