Glossary Of Terms

A - E

Abrasion
An abrasion is a skin wound caused by rubbing or scraping the skin. A skinned knee or rug burn are common examples of abrasions.

Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen is a medicine that is used to reduce pain and reduce fever. Acetaminophen belongs to the groups of medicines known as analgesics and antipyretics. Unlike ASA, acetaminophen does not reduce inflammation or thin the blood to a significant degree. Acetaminophen is generally easier on the stomach than ASA.

Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
A medicine that has pain relieving, inflammation reducing and fever reducing properties. Acetylsalicylic acid also reduces the amount of blood clotting that takes place, and is often used to prevent heart attack and stroke in certain people at higher risk of these events. ASA may cause stomach problems such as ulcers. It should not be used in children or teenagers unless recommended by a doctor.

Allergen
An allergen is any substance that is seen by the body as being foreign to it. An allergen causes an allergic reaction which is the result of the body trying to get rid of the allergen. Examples of common allergens include dust, pollen and moulds.

Allergic rhinitis or 'Hay fever'
Allergic rhinitis is also known as 'hay fever'. It is a condition that is caused by an allergy to substances such as pollen. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itching and tearing eyes.

Ammonium chloride
A medicinal ingredient that is used to help liquefy mucus so that it can be coughed up. Ammonium chloride is an expectorant type medicine.

Analgesic
Any medicine that is used to relieve pain.

Anaphylactic shock
An allergic reaction that is widespread and very serious. Anaphylactic shock can cause dizziness, breathing problems, swelling of the tongue and breathing tubes, low blood pressure, heart failure and even death. Some people go into anaphylactic shock after being stung by bees.

Angioedema
Angioedema is a condition associated with sudden painless swelling in the second layer of skin known as the subcutaneous or submucosal tissue. The swelling usually occurs around the face and throat, and can lead to closing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Angioedema can be caused by allergy to food or drugs. In some cases angioedema can be caused by inherited factors.

Anti-infective
A medicine used to treat and cure infection.

Anti-inflammatory
A medicine that is used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Antiemetic
Any medicine that prevents or treats nausea or vomiting.

Antihistamine
A medicine that is used to counteract the effects of histamine. Histamine is a chemical that is released when the body comes into contact with something that one is allergic to. Histamine causes the common symptoms of allergy and colds such as sneezing, itching, stuffy nose, wheezing and hives.

Antipruritic
Any medicine that is used to relieve itching.

Antipyretic
Any medicine used to reduce fever.

Antiseptic
An antiseptic is any material that prevents or discourages the growth of organisms that could lead to infection.

Antitussive
Any medicine that reduces the frequency of coughing.

Astringent
Astringents act on the surface of the skin to contract and wrinkle the skin, protecting the underlying skin from damage. Astringents can reduce the severity of minor bleeding.

Atopic dermatitis
Dermatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the skin. Inflammation can be caused by an allergic reaction causing an eczema rash (eczematous, allergic or atopic dermatitis) or by direct contact with a chemical or other irritant that causes irritation (occupational dermatitis).

Bismuth
Bismuth is a medicinal ingredient that is used in medicines to treat stomach problems and also in medicines that protect surfaces inside the mouth and throat.

Bulk forming laxative
Bulk forming laxatives contain fiber that absorb water, producing the bulk necessary for the bowel to perform naturally. They help to create a soft and well-formed stool.

Chlorzoxazone
A muscle relaxant medicine that is often used in combination with pain relievers for treatment of back pain and other pain involving tight muscles.

Congestion
Congestion refers to the accumulation of fluids or materials in a certain area of the body, preventing the normal flow through that area. Nasal congestion prevents the normal flow of air through the nose and is caused by swollen tissues inside the nose along with accumulation of fluids and mucus.

Constipation
A condition where the stool becomes hard and dry. A person who is constipated usually has fewer than three bowel movements in a week..

Cough Suppressant
A cough suppressant is a drug that is used to reduce the amount of coughing one is experiencing. It is especially useful for a dry, hacky type of cough.

CPR
CPR stands for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. A procedure used to start the heart and lungs working again shortly after breathing and pulse have stopped.

Decongestant
A medicine that is used to reduce congestion and swelling in the nose, sinuses and respiratory system. Decongestants are often used to treat stuffy noses associated with colds and flu. They are available in nose sprays and drops as well as pills and liquids that are taken by mouth.

Dependence
Dependence is a medical term used to describe the constant need for a certain type of medicine in order to function normally. Some people have developed a dependence on stimulant laxatives to have normal bowel movements.

Dermatitis
Dermatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the skin. Inflammation can be caused by an allergic reaction causing an eczema rash (eczematous, allergic or atopic dermatitis) or by direct contact with a chemical or other irritant that causes irritation (occupational dermatitis).

Dextromethorphan
A type of medicine that is used to reduce coughing. Dextromethorphan is an antitussive medicine.

Diarrhea
Diarrhea is the term used for frequent, loose, watery bowel movements.

Diphenhydramine
A medicine used to counteract the effects of histamine (e.g., sneezing, runny nose). Diphenhydramine belongs to the group of medicines known as antihistamines.

Dry cough
A dry cough is a cough caused by irritation of the throat and chest, and that is not associated with coughing up mucus or phlegm.

Emollient
An agent that is used to soften or soothe the skin. Emollients could be in the form of a cream, an ointment, or even a bath oil.

Expectorant
An expectorant is a medicine that is used to liquefy mucus, making it less thick so that it can be coughed or spit up and cleared from the chest and throat. Examples of expectorants include guaifenesin and ammonium chloride.