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What Did My Doctor Say?

The special words doctors and nurses use can be hard to understand. You may see or hear these words at your doctor’s office, on the Internet, on the radio or TV, or in newspapers or magazines. We call these words “medspeak.” The Medical Library Association created this site to help you understand what a doctor or nurse tells you. You’ll find tips on how to understand many health words. The terms on this site were created with the help of the Working Group for Health Literacy, Massachusetts Health Sciences Library Network (MAHSLIN)
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  • DYS

    This is part of a word. It can mean “hard.” A dyslexic person has trouble reading.
  • ECTO

    This is part of a word. It means outside. Ectoderm is a layer of skin.
  • EDEMA

    This is swelling caused by fluid build-up. This can be caused by allergy, disease, or injury. Edema most often occurs in feet, ankles, and legs.
  • EEG

    This means electroencephalogram. This is a test that measures the electrical activity of your brain. This test does not hurt.
  • EKG or ECG

    This means electrocardiogram. This test measures the electrical activity in your heart. This test does not hurt.
  • ELECTRO

    This is part of a word. It means electricity.
  • ELECTROLYTES

    These are important chemicals in the body that you need to stay healthy.
  • EMBOLISM

    This is something that blocks a blood vessel. It can be a blood clot, a clump of cells, an air bubble, or a foreign object.

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