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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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  • ADJUVANT

    This means a material or treatment that helps another treatment work better.
  • AIDS

    This means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease in which people have trouble fighting off infections. People with AIDS get sick very easily.
  • AIDS

    This means Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. People with AIDS have trouble fighting off infections. They get sick very easily. AIDS is caused by HIV.
  • ALGIA

    This is part of a word. It means pain or ache. Myalgia means muscle pain.
  • ALLERGY

    This is when the body overreacts to something that is usually harmless. Things like dust, animal hairs, food or plants may do this. If you are allergic to something, you may have runny eyes, coughing, or itching.
  • AMINO ACID

    This is a chemical mixture needed by the body to make protein.
  • ANTIBIOTICS

    These are drugs that help treat you if you are sick and or have an infection. They will not help if you have a virus.
  • ANTIBODIES

    These are proteins that the body makes to protect itself from bacteria and viruses.

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