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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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  • VIRUS

    This is a germ that causes disease that cannot be cured by antibiotics. Measles and chicken pox are caused by viruses. Antibiotics will not help cure a virus.
  • VIRUS

    This is a tiny germ that causes diseases. Viruses cannot be cured by drugs. Measles and chicken pox are caused by viruses. So is HIV.
  • w

    weight
  • w/

    with
  • WASTING SYNDROME

    This is a big weight loss. You may have fever and diarrhea.
  • WESTERN BLOT

    This is a type of blood test to see how hard the body is fighting a virus.
  • WHEEZE

    This is a whistling sound made when you breathe, as in asthma or other lung disease. Wheezing can also be caused by an object stuck in your airway.
  • WHITE BLOOD CELLS

    These are cells that fight germs in the body. AIDS makes people have fewer white blood cells and they can get sick easier.

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