Glossary try the best to avoid the use of medical terms that could make it more difficult to understand the information on this website. Still, there are a number of terms that can't be avoided and that are useful to know because they are so often used by the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals with whom you might speak. The list below includes the terms used on for which we have provided definitions.

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Term Definition

Excessive loss of water from the body tissues, often accompanied by imbalance of sodium, potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes


Progressive state of mental decline, especially of memory function and judgment


Acute or chronic inflammation of the skin


Any one of the group of fungi that cause infection of the skin, hair, or nails

Diabetes insipidus

A disorder similar to diabetes mellitus in that it causes symptoms such as increased thirst and increased urine production, but differing in cause, frequency, treatment, and associated complications; diabetes insipidus results from a lack of production of arginine vasopressin (also called antidiuretic hormone or ADH) by the pituitary or a lack of response of the kidneys to ADH, causing an inability of the kidneys to conserve water. It can lead to severe dehydration and high serum sodium if inadequately treated. Diabetes inspididus is a much more rare condition than diabetes mellitus.


Change from an original unspecialized form, to a different more specialized form or function.


Drug that promotes the production and excretion of urine in order to remove excess fluid from the body in, for example, conditions such as congestive heart failure or hypertension


A condition characterized by having pouches (diverticulum) that poke through parts of the colon


Also known as: Deoxyribonucleic acid

The unique genetic code found in all living cells (bacteria, viruses, parasites, plants, and animals).

Dominant gene

One of a pair of genes whose action is expressed even when only one copy is present


The use of substances or procedures to improve athletic performance and give an athlete an unfair advantage over other competitors.

Double contrast barium enema

Also known as: DCBE

Series of x-rays of the colon and rectum; patient is given an enema with a white, chalky solution that outlines the colon and rectum on the x-rays.


Also known as: Digital Rectal Exam
Part of a physical examination performed in order to examine nearby structures (e.g., the prostate in men)

Dumping syndrome

Symptoms such as nausea, cramping, sweating, and weakness that may occur when the stomach contents are emptied rapidly into the small intestine before being digested; may occur in patients who have had gastric resections or bypass surgery


first part of the small intestine that receives digesting material from the stomach