Glossary

A

Acute: of rapid or sudden onset (opposite of “chronic”).

Airborne: conveyed by or through the air.

Airway: the passages that carry air when we breathe.

Allergen: a substance that causes an allergy e.g dust, pollen.

Alveoli: tiny air sacs in the lung.

Antibiotics: substance produced by, or derived from, a microorganism that destroys or inhibits the growth of other microorganisms. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by organisms that are sensitive to them, usually bacteria or fungi.

Antibody: proteins in the blood and body fluids that are used by the immune system to identify and neutralise potentially harmful foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses (antigens) by binding to their surfaces.

Antigen: a molecule that can stimulate an immune response.

Antimicrobial: an agent that kills microorganisms or suppresses their multiplication or growth.

Antioxidants: a synthetic or natural substance added to a product to prevent or delay its deterioration by action of oxygen in the air, a process known as oxidation.

α1-antitrypsin: a plasma protein produced in the liver, which inhibits the activity of trypsin and other proteolytic enzymes. Deficiency of this protein is associated with emphysema.

Apnoea: the suspension of breathing.

Apnoea of prematurity:  occurs in premature babies when the part of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that controls breathing is not yet mature enough to                             allow continuous breathing. This results in large bursts of breath followed by periods of shallow or stopped breathing.

Asphyxia: suffocation: a life-threatening condition in which oxygen is prevented from reaching the tissues by obstruction of or damage to any part of the respiratory system.

Atopic syndrome: Hereditary tendency to experience immediate allergic reactions on parts of the body that are not in direct contact with the allergen.

B

Bacteria: a group of microorganisms all of which lack a distinct nuclear membrane and have a cell wall of unique composition. Most bacteria are unicellular. Bacteria are very widely distributed, some live in soil, water or air and others are parasites. Many parasitic bacteria do not harm their hosts; some cause diseases by producing poisons.

Benign tumour: a tumour that is localised and will not migrate to other parts of the body, not cancerous, usually harmless. 

Biomarker: A specific substance used to measure or indicate the effects or progress of a disease or condition

Biomass fuel: liquid, solid, or gaseous fuel produced by conversion of biomass (vegetable matter used as a source of energy).

Body mass index: a measure of body fat in relation to weight and height. Helps healthcare professionals determine whether or not someone is overweight or obese.

Bronchiectasis: abnormal widening of one or more airways. Excess mucus is made in the abnormal airways, which can lead to infection. Cough is usually the main symptom.

Bronchiolitis: is an infection in the airways that makes breathing difficult.

Bronchitis: inflammation of the bronchial tubes, characterised by coughing, difficulty in breathing etc., caused by infection or irritation of the respiratory tract.

Bronchoalveolar lavage: a medical procedure performed to diagnose lung disease. It involves passing a bronchoscope through the mouth or nose and into the lungs. Fluid is used to wash off cells that are later collected and examined.

Bronchoconstrictor: a drug that causes narrowing of the air passages by producing contraction of bronchial smooth muscle.

Bronchodilators: an agent that causes widening of the air passages by relaxing bronchial smooth muscle.

Bronchoscopy: the procedure carried out by a doctor to look at your throat, larynx, trachea, airways and lungs through a thin viewing instrument called a bronchoscope. It is used to diagnose and treat lung diseases. 

Bronchus: (pl. bronchi) any of the air passages beyond the trachea (windpipe) that has cartilage and mucous glands in its walls.

C

Cancer stage: (usually numbers I to IV) describes how much the cancer has spread.

Carcinogens: any substance that, when exposed to living tissue, may cause the production of cancer.

Cardiovascular: of or relating to the heart and the blood vessels.

Cerebrovascular: of or relating to the blood vessels and the blood supply of the brain.

Chemotherapy: the prevention or treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances. The term is sometimes restricted to the treatment of infectious diseases with antibiotics and other drugs or to the control of cancer.

Chronic: describing a disease of long duration involving very slow changes. Such disease is often of gradual onset. The term does not imply anything about the severity of a disease.

Coronavirus: A virus so called because of the appearance of a crown (corona) or halo under a microscope.  Associatied with gastrointestinal, respiratory, liver and neurological diseases in animals.

Corticosteroids: any steroid hormone synthesised by the adrenal cortex (part of the adrenal gland, at the top of the kidneys).

Cytokine: a substance that is secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells, and have an effect on other cells.

D

DNA: the genetic material of all living organisms, which controls heredity.

Dysphonia: hoarseness; defective use of the voice.

E

Emphysema: the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs are enlarged and damaged, which reduces the surface area for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Endocrine system: a control system of ductless glands that secrete chemical messengers called hormones that circulate throughout the body in the blood, to affect distant cells within specific organs.

Endoscope: a flexible tube with a camera inside, used to observe internal body structures.

Enzyme: a protein that speeds up the rate of a biological reaction without being used up in the reaction.

Epidemic: a sudden outbreak of infectious disease that spreads rapidly through the population, affecting a large proportion of people.

Epidemiology: the study of the occurrence, distribution, and control of diseases in populations. 

Epithelial: relates to the layer of cells which form a covering over the internal and external surfaces of the body. e.g. the inner lining of the lungs, digestive tract, and skin cells.

Exacerbation: to make more intense.

Extrapulmonary: situated or occurring outside the lungs.

F

Fibroblast: a type of cell that forms the structural support of connective tissue and plays a critical role in wound healing.

Fibrosis: thickening and scarring of connective tissue, most often a consequence of inflammation or injury.

Fungi: (plural of fungus) a simple organism (formerly regarded as a plant) that lacks the green pigment chlorophyll.

Fungicide: a chemical substance that destroys or inhibits the growth of fungi.

G

Genes: a region of DNA corresponding to a unit of inheritance.

Genetic: of or relating to genes.

H

Hereditary: transmitted from parents to their offspring; inherited.

Histopathology: examining tissue with a microscope to study disease.

I

Idiopathic: (a disease) of no known cause

Immune: protected against a particular infection by the presence of specific antibodies against the organisms concerned.

Immunocompromised: patients in whom the immune response is reduced or defective due to immunosuppression.

Immunosuppressant: a drug that reduces the body's resistance to infection and other foreign bodies by suppressing the immune system.

Inflammation: the body's response to injury.

Ischaemic heart disease: atherosclerosis (hardening) of the heart vessels, which makes the patient likely to suffer from angina (chest pain) and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Incidence: the rate of occurrence.

L

Latency period: the time that it takes for a patient to show symptoms once they have been exposed to a pathogen.

Lung function: is a measure of how well the lungs take in and exhale air and how efficiently they transfer oxygen into the blood.

Lymphatic system: is a major component of the immune system. It is made up of organs, nodes, ducts, tissues, capilliaries and vessels that produce the lymph fluid and transport it to the circulatory system.

Lymph nodes: components of the lymphatic system. They contain white blood cells that trap and destroy bacteria or viruses.

M

Malaise: a general feeling of being unwell.

Malignant: describes a disease or diseased growth that is likely to get worse.

Median: a type of average that is calculated by taking the middle value of a collection of data.

Metastasis: the spread of malignant tumour from its site of origin.

Microorganism: any organism too small to be visible to the naked eye.

Morbidity: the symptoms and/or disability resulting from a disease.

Mortality: the rate of death in the population in a given period.

Mutation: a change in the genetic material (DNA) of a cell, or the change this causes in a characteristic of the individual, which is not caused by normal genetic processes.

Mutagenic: an agent capable of causing a mutation.

N

Nanometer: a measurement equivalent to one billionth of a meter.

N

Nanometer: a measurement equivalent to one billionth of a meter.

O

Oedema: excessive accumulation of fluid in the body tissues.

Oesophagus: the gullet: a muscular tube, about 23 cm long, that extends from the throat to the stomach.

Oxidative: causing the loss of electrons by a molecule.

Oxidative stress: is a general term used to describe the steady state level of oxidative damage in a cell, tissue, or organ, caused by the reactive oxygen species such as free radicals.

P

Palliative: a medicine that gives temporary relief from the symptoms of a disease but does not actually cure the disease.

Pandemic: an epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population.

Particulate matter: term used for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air.

Pathogen: a biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host.

Pathophysiology: the functional changes associated with disease or injury.

Pharmacogenetics: Scientific medical branch which studies the genetic differences in metabolic pathways that can influence the individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic and adverse effects.

Plasma: the clear, yellowish fluid portion of the blood in which cells are suspended.

Pleura: membrane lining the lungs and chest cavity.

Pneumoconiosis: a lung disease primarily caused by inhaling dust in the work place.

Prevalence rate: a measure of morbidity based on current sickness in a population, estimated either at a particular time or over a stated period.

Pulmonary: relating to, associated with, or affecting the lungs.

Pulmonary fibrosis: scarring or thickening of tissues deep in the lung without a known cause.

R

Resection: surgical removal of a portion of any part of the body.

Respiratory system: the combination of organs and tissues associated with breathing.

S

SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Species barrier: a term referring to the biological divides between different species, for example cows/goats/humans.  These biological differences make the transference of viruses between different species difficult and unusual, although not impossible.

Socioeconomic: involving social as well as economic factors.

Somnolence: causing drowsiness.

Susceptibility: lack of resistance to disease.

Synergistic: a drug that interacts with another to produce increased activity, which is greater than the sum of the effects of the two drugs given separately.

Systemic: affecting the body as a whole.

T

Therapeutic: of or relating to the treatment of disease.

Trachea: the windpipe.

Trypsin: an enzyme that breaks down/ digests proteins.

Tumour: a lump of tissue caused by an abnormal growth of cells, can be benign or malignant

V

Vector: is a vehicle for delivering genetic material, such as DNA, to a cell.

Virology: t
he scientific study of viruses and the diseases that they cause.

Viruses: a minute particle that is capable of replication but only within living cells. They infect animals, plants and microorganisms.

W

Wheeze: an abnormal high-pitched or low-pitched sound heard during expiration; results from narrowing of the airways or increased secretion or retention of sputum.