These are a Few of My Favorite Things, Part 3, Frequently Used Medical Terms You May Encounter

Have you ever wondered how health care providers learn the thousands of terms they use every day?  Often it is a case of learning suffixes and prefixes.  From there, you can join organ names with prefixes or suffixes to fully describe a condition.  Here are some of those most commonly used:

  • arthr  Of/pertaining to joint or limb,  arthritis is inflammation of the joint(s); arthralgia is joint pain.
  • dys-   Abnormal,  Dyssomnia is abnormal sleep functioning; dysmenorrhea is abnormal menstrual functioning.
  • -ectomy   The process or procedure of removing, e.g., appendectomy is the removal of the appendix; colectomy is the removal of the colon.
  • graphy   The process of recording or capturing, Mammography is capturing images of the breasts; thermography is capturing images using a device that captures heat signatures.
  • hemo- or hema-  Blood,  Hematuria is blood in the urine; hemotympanum is blood behind the eardrum.
  • hyper –  Excessive, e.g., hyperthyroidism is a condition of having an overactive thyroid gland; hypertension is a condition of having too much tension (pressure) in the blood vessels, aka high blood pressure.
  • hypo-   Insufficient, Hypothyroidism is a condition of having an underactive thyroid gland; hypotension is a condition of having too little tension (pressure) in the blood vessels, aka low blood pressure.
  • -itis (eye’-tiss)   Inflammation,  Cellulitis is inflammation of the skin; appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix; diverticulitis is inflammation of the diverticuli (pockets) that are found in many individuals’ colons.
  • -itus (eye’-tuss)   With,  Tinnitus is the condition of having hearing with a “tinny” sound; pruritus is the condition of having itching.
  • lingual  Relating to the tongue,  Sublingual administration of a medication means to take it under the tongue.
  • normo-   Normal, Normotensive means having normal tension (pressure) in the blood vessels.
  • -osis   Condition of,  Psychosis is a condition of psychiatric illness; diverticulosis is a condition of diverticuli (pockets) such as those found in the colon.
  • osteo-   Pertaining to the bones,  Osteoporosis is the condition of having large pores (holes) in the bones; osteoarthritis is a condition of inflammation on or near the bones.
  • pathy   Having disease,  Neuropathy is disease of the nerves; retinopathy is disease of the retina of the eye.
  • plasia   A condition relating to tissue or cells, can be hypo-, hyper, or normo-.  It means an organ is too large or too small because of the number of cells.  Hyperplasia of the prostate means the prostate is abnormally large from having too many cells.
  • scopy   An activity using an instrument for viewing,  Colonoscopy is a study that uses an instrument to view the walls of the colon; laryngoscopy is a study that uses an instrument to view the larynx and vocal cords.
  • -thymia  Condition of mind and/or will,  dysthymia is persistent, abnormal, chronic form of low-grade depression.
  • -trophy   A condition of growth or development, can be hypo-, hyper-, a, or normo-.   Hypertrophy is extra growth of the bones than can lead to bone spurs; atrophy is the loss of development such as atrophy of the muscles; hypertrophy of the toenails means the nails are thick or overgrown; muscular dystrophy means abnormal development of the muscles.
  • uria   In the urine, Hematuria is blood in the urine; proteinuria is protein in the urine.

©July 2016 – Genevie Kocourek, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine and practices at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. She is the founder of Trinity Integrative Family Medicine and focuses her practice on integrative care and prevention of disease for the entire family. Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311